The PGA Tour makes its annual stop in the Quad Cities this week for the John Deere Classic, the final tune-up before the season's third major in Scotland. This event often draws a watered-down field, with many of the top American golfers resting or making the early trip overseas to adjust to the time change. Some, such as Phil Mickelson, even play in the Scottish Open to prep for the weather conditions and/or links style layout that they will face at The Open Championship.
According to the oddsmakers, Steve Stricker will start the week as the favorite -- and with good reason, given that he's won three of the last four John Deere Classics and holds the scoring record at the event. Stricker won three straight before settling for a fifth-place finish last year, four strokes back of native Iowan Zach Johnson. Johnson has the second-lowest odds behind Stricker, starting the week at 14/1. For Stricker, however, this is not simply a tune-up as he's opted to pass on the British next week to continue this first year of a pared-down semi-retirement schedule.
Even with the unenviable spot on the calendar, the field at the Deere this year is fairly strong. Louis Oosthuizen is once again in attendance, mostly because he's a noted tractor (specifically, John Deere) enthusiast. Oosthuizen, who became a worldwide name after a dominating Open Championship victory in 2010, has had an inconsistent and disappointing season after starting the year as a trendy pick to win multiple times, including at a major. But even with that form, he's 20/1, alongside Keegan Bradley with the third-lowest odds. He'll take the favored status, but he's mostly here to tour the John Deere plant and stare in wonder at all the impressive tractors machinery.
The winner this week does earn a last-minute invite to the Open Championship, with the private charters gassed up and ready to take groups across the pond on Sunday night. Most of the field does not have an invite to the Open, but on a course like TPC Deere Run where repeated rounds in the low 60s are available, anyone can come from nowhere to earn a major berth. Here are the odds for some of the favorites this week, via Bovada:
|Brendon De Jonge||40/1|
|Charles Howell III||50/1|