Expert Picks for John Deere Classic
Brendon de Jonge [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #73
Normally we would have been tempted to push de Jonge into our top ten, but recent events force us to temper expectations. The young South African was one of the positive stories from the Tour last season and he started off 2011 as if he'd continue to push his skills to the next level. However, he's struggled much more often than not since the major season started and, while he was in contention at this track last season, we worry his momentum is heading in the wrong direction.
Clearly we are reaching deep into the barrel since the fish at the top don't look so good, and when the fish at the top don't look so good, Marino is one fish we like to come back to. He's one of the more accomplished second-tier golfers on the Tour and he has given us reason to believe he can compete for a Tour win this season.
Believe it or not, time seems to be treating Micheel well as his finishes over recent campaigns - several years removed from his peak - have impressed. He is able to find his way into the fight at tourneys lacking true star power and we certainly have that scenario on hand this week. He's knows this track and has gone low on it before.
Louis Oosthuizen [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #6
Oosthuizen has a major trophy on his mantle. Ask this field for a show of hands from those who can claim the same and you won't see many hands go up. That fact alone gets Oosthuizen on the radar, but we warn he has not shown well on the Tour since that surge last season and it seems better to anticipate he'll be focused on preparation for his British Open defense more than any other goal this week.
Vegas was the talk of the Tour town after the first month of the season, but the lack of experience caught up and brought him back to earth. However, he returns this week after showcasing signs of another rise the week before, and we wouldn't mind being early when the bandwagon fires up again.
Like Vegas, Miller was a regular stop for us in filling rosters early in the season; also like Vegas, he has left us wanting more over recent starts on the Tour. However, with the field struggling to offer top names and some indication from his resume that this course is to his liking, we'll be giving him full consideration when we fill our own menu for the week.
Pat Perez [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #147
Perez is a name we reach for often whether the stars are shining on the links or not, and this week they most certainly are not. That makes Perez and his reliable bag as tempting as ever, though history isn't necessarily at his back. He played well at this event last season, but in years prior it was a bit up and down. Still, he has as much potential as any golfer outside of our top ten.
Our favorite gamble of the week might be the one golfer who can benefit the most from a push at the TPC Deere Run. Wetterich has been attempting to regain his right to play on the Tour via medical exemptions, sponsorships, and invites. Over recent weeks he has been active and playing well. He's as motivated as any golfer out there and he could be almost as talented.
The problem with DL3 at an event like this: he's played at every recent tourney on this track and, as such, you can find both good and bad in his history. More than anything we are concerned about his recent struggles to perform and wonder if he is truly capable of challenging for a win ever again. That said, we don't doubt he can finish near the top of the final leaderboard, here or anywhere else.
Hayes has a trophy on his mantle from this event earned at this Illinois track, and he has been rather consistent in competing for wins in return visits. The only thing keeping us from ranking him higher is value. Few, if any, could pick Hayes out of a lineup and even fewer will be giving him consideration in this or any other fantasy week. He's a solid backup that could take over the start if needed.
Rollins should come into view any time the field is sucking wind. He's capable of going low, he's played on every track out there, and he has a bit of momentum at his back.
We've nearly reached a point where we would readily admit Weekley is only good on certain tracks, and history is not necessarily screaming for Deere Run to be one of them. Still, the field is weak and we are going 30 deep, so his talent gets him a mention.