John Deere Classic experts' picks

July, 10, 2012
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: The John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Scott Piercy
Since becoming a full-time member of the PGA Tour in 2009, he has never missed a cut at this event. And now going into to his fourth time in a row playing the Classic, expect Piercy to have the subtle nuances of the greens figured out which will give him a strong weekend performance.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Steve Stricker
The 45-year-old Wisconsin native owns TPC Deere Run. He is 68-under in his last three appearances at the Silvis, Ill. course. This week, the 12-time tour winner will be trying to win his fourth straight John Deere Classic.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Steve Stricker
Hard to go against the top-ranked player in the field here. Stricker has won this tournament three straight years, doing so in dramatic fashion last year with a final-hole birdie.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Steve Stricker
Yup, everyone else is going to pick Strick, so I'll jump on the bandwagon. Kind of hard not to when the guy's won more money at this event in three consecutive victories ($2.38 million) than someone like major champion Tom Weiskopf pocketed in his entire career.

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Brian Gay
Last year was the first time since 2008 he had played the event and he finished tied for ninth. This year, he ranks 11th in strokes gained-putting, which on a course that's not a bomber's paradise, translates into at least another top-10 finish.

Farrell Evans: Ken Duke The 43-year-old journeyman has T-7s in two of his last three events, including one last week at the Greenbrier Classic, which was his sixth top-10 of the year.

Bob Harig: Ted Potter, Jr.
Hey, he's on a roll. What a finish at the Greenbrier, where he went eagle-birdie to get into a playoff, which he won on the third extra hole.

Kevin Maguire: Charlie Beljan
After a 62 in Round 2 last week at the Greenbrier, the rookie showed he's not afraid to go low. That'll be key at the John Deere since in Stricker's three straight wins here, he's been at least 20-under for the week.

Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Kris Blanks
Not having a great year by any stretch, the 39-year-old has only made 11 of 22 cuts so far in 2012. Dealing with some nagging injuries this season, his game is very similar to Paul Goydos. And I know you remember what he did on this course two years ago.

Farrell Evans: John Daly
The two-time major champion has shot 64-65 in his previous two final rounds on the PGA Tour. Last week at the Greenbrier Classic, Daly earned his best finish of the season on the PGA Tour with a tie for 12th. In Europe, he had an 11th earlier this year at the Sicilian Open.

Bob Harig: Sean O'Hair
A bit of a strange deal for O'Hair at the Deere. He got his first win at the tournament in 2005 -- then jumped through all kinds of hoops to get a passport, so he could play in the Open Championship. But he's only returned twice since the win and missed the cut in his last appearance in 2008.

Kevin Maguire: John Daly
Daly won't sneak up on anyone (certainly not with his Loudmouth pants), but after four straight rounds of par or better to finish T-12 at the Greenbrier, he's actually playing some solid golf. The big hitter (who jumped up to 158th on the PGA Tour money list) cashed a paycheck in his fourth-straight worldwide start.


Michael Collins: Steve Stricker
It's his house, everyone else is just invited guests. The three-time defending champion is 68-under par for the last 216 holes at the John Deere Classic, so unless he has his hands, eyes and feet surgically removed (he'd still shoot 16-under), the event is his to lose.

Farrell Evans: Zach Johnson
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native has struggled since winning the Colonial in May, but the John Deere Classic is one of his favorite tournaments because of its close proximity to his hometown. Last year, the 36-year-old Drake grad had a tie for third in the event.

Bob Harig: Zach Johnson
A semi-hometown event for Johnson (he's on the tournament's board), and he is playing it for the 11th-straight time. Last year, he finished third but has never won. But he gets his second win of the year and heads to the Open Championship getting some attention.

Kevin Maguire: Daniel Summerhays
I'll admit, this is going out on a bit of a limb, but the BYU product has been on a mini-tear of late with a pair of top-5 finishes in his last four starts. Toss in that final-round 64 at the Greenbrier and he could pick up his first career PGA Tour victory this week in Silvis, Ill.





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