We inch closer to the third major of the season and we are starting to see the rise of youth on the Tour. While Tiger continues to rest and introduce reason to question his future, new and exciting names are becoming stars on the PGA Tour and introducing reason to cheer for the future. Nick Watney served us well as winner at the AT&T National (our top-ranked golfer for last week), fresh off a similar effort from Ryan Moore and Fredrik Jacobson battling for the win at the Travelers Championship. The Tour noted one-third of this year's tourneys have been won by first-time champions, giving golf fans a new list of heroes, giving the so-called elite a new list of enemies, and giving fantasy owners a new list of potential employees.
This week the Tour heads to Illinois to do battle at the John Deere Classic, and while the the field is shallow in overall talent, it could be a break the elite class needs to remind us all why they are "elite." Steve Stricker is one of the only top-rated golfers in the field, but he has also taken the last TWO oversized checks from John Deere home. He clearly has an affinity for the TPC Deere Run and thus he clearly serves as the proper introduction to this year's group.
In examining other targets, we note the TPC Deere Run is another in the series of TPC courses that tend to encourage reasonable-yet-humble scores. A young track by Tour standards (opened in 2000), bunkers rule the day and are never the same, presenting various locations, depths, and sizes that will challenge the best duffers on the Tour should they end up on the beach. The course covers 170 acres, but only 60 were disturbed during construction of this track. The rest is in the same condition it was in when the bulldozers first pulled on site, and that is as impressive as any fact you'll find about Deere Run.
The course is also littered with small ponds, elevation changes, and those trademark oak trees that dot this portion of the country. The TPC site may sum it up best, at least when you turn the discussion to the true nature of playing golf on this course: "TPC Deere Run is not a target-oriented layout. It requires shot making and maneuverability, plus imagination with the short game." Former champions include J.P. Hayes, Vijay Singh, Mark Hensby, Sean O'Hair, John Senden, Jonathan Byrd, and Kenny Perry.Golfers listed in this article: