As usual with the week before The Open, not many players take up a spot on the PGA Tour, in order to properly prepare for what will be a completely different challenge compared to recent weeks Stateside.
So, for once, the field is far superior for The Scottish Open with several PGA regulars making the trip over, including Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker. Do check out our preview here!
But, young starlet Jordan Spieth and stalwarts Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson will be teeing it up at the John Deere Classic, understandably the clear favourites, as the latter two look to continue their outstanding history on the TPC Deere Run track.
It has hosted the tournament since 2000 and primarily, in order to win here you will need to shoot low.
The 7,268 yard, par 71 track regularly finds itself in the top 10 for easiest courses during a calendar year (36th out of 43 in 2013), therefore birdies and attacking pins are an absolute must.
The 78 bunkers and minimal water hazards will provide slight resistance, but in all honesty, if you are not finding birdies here, you will have no chance. It will require clever course management, so you are able to attack pins, make those putts and avoid bogeys – you can certainly see that by the list of previous winners.
2013 – Jordan Spieth
2012 – Zach Johnson
2011, 2010, 2009 – Steve Stricker
2008 – Kenny Perry
2007 – Jonathan Byrd
2006 – John Senden
Those are players who traditionally hit it straight but will tactically work their way around courses and keep plundering those birdies. We have really discussed at length whether we should take any of the top 3 in the market, but decided against it, in order to try and find some top quality value.
Brendon De Jonge (40/1 various)
We have been plumping for Brendon De Jonge quite regularly in recent times and there is no doubting it is coming to crunch time,
He has not had the greatest of seasons considering his ability, but he has been so consistent for the last 8 tournaments, not missing a cut, shooting at least one outrageous round then eventually trudging to the finishing line. If he could only put together another round or 2 of the sort of quality he has shown he can produce, then this is the sort of tournament he could walk away with.
Last week he was above 70% for both driving accuracy and GIR and if he can reproduce that and get his putter going, he will find himself challenging on a course he has played well at before.
Two T7 finishes in a row in 2011 and 2010 will certainly help his confidence. He lies T28 for sub par rounds, which proves he can shoot low, let’s just hope he does for all 4 days.
Billy Hurley III (55/1 BetVictor)
Billy Hurley III has found some form in recent months as he chases his first victory on the PGA Tour. He first properly came to our attention with a solo 5th placed finish at the Honda Classic, where he shot 3 wonderful rounds in the 60s to finish.
But since the Wells Fargo Championship where he missed the cut in early May, his worst finish is T57, but he head recorded 2 top 10s in a row as he prepares for a course that should suit his eye.
He finished T8 at the Quicken Loans National and T4 last week, where in some ways he would have performed better had he not shot a poor 73 on the final day.
If he can drive as well as he did at the Greenbrier last week (over 80%), he will give himself a chance because he will be able to attack pins and try to shoot low – which he proved with a 63 on the Friday.
The fact he finished T8 here a few years back proves he could be perfect for the challenge and if he produces the same golf he has managed to recently, he will be up there come Sunday.
Jerry Kelly (100/1 various)
Jerry Kelly is entering the final few years before he is eligible to join the Senior Tour and has been a regular on many a leaderboard, traditionally on courses that require a thinking head.
Whilst this is by no means a complete strategist track, in order to find those birdies, you must use your armoury wisely and there is none better than Kelly for working out a courses weak links.
He does enjoy shooting low, his 3 wins on Tour have been -14 twice and -19 and barring his T6 at the Valero where he shot -6, his other 4 top 13s were all scores of at least -15.
He shot a couple of rounds in the 60s at his last outing at the Travelers, but the two sandwiched in between meant he couldn’t break the top 30. He is your typical tee to green guru, who will rarely waiver from the fairways, but a lot of his week will depend on how he applies himself on the greens.
He finished T4 here last year, just one shot behind Spieth and he went into that final round with every chance of victory, so his -3 should have perhaps been more. Let’s hope it is this week.
Kyle Stanley (150/1 various)
Kyle Stanley has had a shocking season considering how much talent he has and the promise he was showing. At the end of the day Nike decided to take the plunge and sign him to their roster and they don’t just sign anyone.
He is coming onto a course where he nearly recorded his first victory back in 2011, but Stricker birdied the last to finish one shot clear. He did go on to win the Waste Management a year later, but he has failed to really push on as we all thought he would.
Then in 2014, he has not recorded one top 10, but we thought there was a bit of promise last week in his T35 finish. He shot a 68 and 66 in between two 71s and for the 4 days, he was 11th for strokes gained putting, which is pretty much what has been letting him down.
He is known as a straight, long hitter, who always has the confidence of attacking greens (17th going for the green, T55 GIR) and if he can putt like he did last week then this could be an interesting return for Stanley.
Jason Bohn (100/1 BetFred)
Jason Bohn caught everyones eye last week when he was T2 after the first round, shooting a marvellous 65. He proved he can shoot low and to finish T11 was a respectable end.
He has recorded a couple of top 10s this year and considering how consistent he is on the greens, he has the ability to hole putts for fun. 22nd for strokes gained putting prove how he can play and if he attack those pins like we have seen him do in the past (T22 for proximity to the hole) he really could find many birdies.
He has played here many times before without finding a top 10, but he rarely missed the cut and has never dropped outside the top 39.
Heath Slocum (200/1 various)
Quick mention for Heath Slocum, whose course form and ability warrant the inclusion. He finished T3 here in 2006, 3 shots behind Senden, but went into the weekend with every chance of victory. By no means did he play badly either, he just lost to the better player on the day. In 2007 he finished T6 after a 65 on the Sunday propelled him up the leaderboard and all in all, he has proved how he can attack this course which suits his eye.
He hasn’t missed a cut in 5 outings, but not been able to put together 4 amazing rounds, do not be surprised if he does this week.