John Deere Classic Preview

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2009

The PGA Tour heads to Silvis, IL this week for the John Deere Classic.

Needless to say, the British Open, which will take place next week at Turnberry, is at the front and center of most player’s minds.

Silvis, IL is a long way from Scotland, and TPC Deer Run is vastly different to Turnberry’s Ailsa course.  

In a bid to lure top-tier players to the event, the John Deere Classic provides a charter plane to transport players from Silvis, IL over to the British Open immediately following the conclusion of the tournament.

Twenty-two players will hop onto ‘Air Deere’ on Sunday night with the destination being Prestwick Airport in Scotland. During the nine hour flight, you can be assured that virtually everyone on the plane will be snoring away while dreaming of holding up that Claret jug on the 18th hole with the Turnberry Hotel sitting majestically off in the distance.

But, before heading over to Turnberry, there is a mere $4 million up for grabs this week in Silvis, IL.

Here are five players to watch.


Danny Lee

Since turning pro immediately following the 2009 Masters, the 19-year-old, reigning US Amateur Champion has experienced a decent amount of success.

Lee has made the cut in four out of his first seven events as a professional but was unable to crack the top-10 until last week’s AT&T National.

Last week in Bethesda, Maryland, Lee shot six-under-par for the tournament, finished tied for 7th and walked away with more than $180,000.

Lee is not an official member of the PGA Tour right now and is currently playing on sponsor’s exemptions.

A non-member of the PGA Tour is only allowed 10 sponsor’s exemptions during the course of the season, and Lee has already used up eight of his.

Lee was originally not scheduled to appear in this week’s John Deere Classic but decided to take them up on their exemption offer despite this being his second to last exemption with a third of the season still left to play.

So, what does this tell us?

Well, it means that Lee must be very confident in his game and his ability to go out and contend this week.  


Steve Stricker

Stricker has finished outside of the top-25 in just three out of the 11 events he’s attended this year.

Stricker’s last appearance was at the US Open, where he finished tied for 23rd.

Although Stricker's ability to close out a tournament was questioned earlier in the year, he triumphantly squashed those questions with a sudden death playoff win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Stricker may not win this week, but if his level of consistency  this year is anything to go by, there’s a very good chance that he will at least be in contention come Sunday afternoon.


Bryce Molder

Molder certainly had a rough start to the 2009 season.  He missed the cut in five out of his first seven events and had earned just $65,000 heading into the HP Byron Nelson Championship at the end of May.

But, things seemed to really turn around for Molder after finishing tied for 23rd at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Following his strong finish at the Byron Nelson, Molder tied for 2nd at the St. Jude Classic, tied for 19th at the Travelers Championship and finished 4th at last week’s AT&T National.

Molder has a 67.56 scoring average over his last four events and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.


Ryan Moore

After missing the cut in four out of five events, Moore’s game seemed to turn the corner at the US Open out at Bethpage.

Moore tied for 10th at the Open, tied for fourth at the Travelers Championship and finished in a tie for 11th at last week’s AT&T National.

Moore is probably one of the most talented young players on tour who has yet to win an event.

Perhaps this could be Ryan Moore’s week.


Kenny Perry

It’s amazing how after five wins in the past 12 months, people still roll their eyes when they hear Kenny Perry’s name mentioned as a favorite.

But, how could you bet against the guy?

There are few players, if any, that have played as well as Perry has over the past two years.

48-years-old or not, Perry has already won twice this year and finished second at the Masters.

Perry is coming off a win at the Travelers Championship two weeks ago and will be looking to defend his title this week at the John Deere Classic.  

Perry is one of those eligible for a spot on ‘Air Deere’ to take him over to the British Open on Sunday night.

But, with all the money that this guy has won over the past two years, a private jet will more than likely be sitting on the tarmac waiting to take Perry over to Turnberry, which is a comfort he has more than earned.


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