Stricker Tops ICG Fantasy Five List For John Deere Classic


By Michael Weigand, PGA, ICG

After a couple of high profile weeks on the PGA Tour, the schedule now turns to a (perhaps) less notable but still fan-friendly event in the John Deere Classic.

Like the trademark green tractor that is both the company's and the tournament's logo, the John Deere tournament seems to hold a warm spot in both players' and fans' hearts. Held in Silvis, Ill., at the TPC Deere Run (since 2000) the event typically produces low scores and some relatively lesser-known names at the top of the leaderboard.

Steve Stricker comes to this year's version of the John Deere with a chance to make history as only the fifth player in TOUR history to win one particular event four times in a row. Interestingly (coincidentally?), this tournament comes at a time when Stricker is playing well. It should come as no surprise that Stricker will be a part of this week's Fantasy Five discussion. It should also come as no surprise that a couple of other past John Deere champs have made this week's list.

Without any further ado, here now is our iCHOOSEGOLF Fantasy Five for the John Deere Classic.

Steve Stricker: Let's go ahead and address Mr. Stricker right off the top. The extremely-likable midwesterner comes to Illinois (where he went to college, by the way) looking to continue his success, not only at the John Deere but for the 2012 season. Stricker has posted two top-25s in his last two events to go along with a win (at the Hyundai TOC) and three other top 10s this year. Currently ranked 24th in Birdie Average and 30th in Scoring, Stricker has risen to 20th in the FedExCup standings and 28th in the All-Around category. Of the list of potential picks for your fantasy roster this week, Steve Stricker should be the easiest to select.

Zach Johnson: Coming off a T2 at the PLAYERS championship and then a win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, Johnson promptly missed his first cut of the year at the FedEx St. Jude. We can likely chalk that up to fatigue so, after a couple of mediocre performances at the U.S. Open and Travelers Championship and a couple of weeks off, Zach should be ready to go. Johnson obviously likes the TPC Deere Run golf course as evidenced by his T3, T21 and T2 finishes at the event over the past three years. This year feels like a good time for Johnson to finally push to a win. He's ranked 5th in Strokes Gained Putting, 16th in Birdie Average and 10th in Scoring. In a tournament like this one where the birdies will be flowing freely, look for Johnson to be heavily in the mix.

Jonathan Byrd: Jonathan is one of those guys that doesn't get much publicity but just continues to post solid numbers. Byrd hasn't missed a cut since March and has posted four top-12 finishes to go along with a T22 (last week) in that same span. The Clemson grad also won the John Deere in 2007 so it's clear he knows the golf course. Byrd is ranked 24th in Strokes Gained Putting and is currently 46th in Birdie Average. Once again, Byrd won't garner many headlines heading into this week's event but don't be surprised if he's on the front page of the sports section by Sunday.

Sean O'Hair: Like Byrd above, O'Hair isn't typically part of the weekly buzz on the TOUR. And, like Byrd, Sean just keeps playing well. O'Hair has missed only two cuts all season and is fresh off a T22 at the AT&T National and a T7 last week at the Greenbrier. Sean is also a former John Deere Classic champion ('05). Though O'Hair is ranked 50th in Scoring, he's 12th in Birdie Average and 34th in Greens In Regulation. He's also 18th in the Par Breakers category. And, as we've discussed, the par-breakers should be the players fantasy golf owners are focusing on this week.

Seung-Yul Noh: In all honesty, we've been following Noh for many weeks this year but have been a bit reluctant to add him to the Fantasy Five. The (very) young South Korean has now proven he's ready to join the club. Noh hasn't missed a cut since the middle of April and has compiled three top-10s and a total of five top-25s since that time. Noh also possesses a great combination of length (20th in Driving Distance), accuracy (37th in GIR) and scoring (43rd in Scoring Average). This is his first time at the John Deere Classic. Look for this week to be a nice introduction.

The John Deere Classic begins on Thursday with television coverage on the Golf Channel at 3:00pm EDT / 2:00pm CDT.


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