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Final US warm-up for Open at John Deere Classic

This week might be a good opportunity for Matt Jones who has played well at TPC Deere Run previously (Photo: Bruce Young)
The last PGA Tour event before the Open Championship next week at Royal Birkdale is played this week at the TPC Deere Run in Silvis in Illinois where Australians Stuart Appleby, Greg Chalmers, Brett Drewitt, Matt Jones, Curtis Luck, Geoff Ogilvy and Cameron Percy get one final chance to qualify for the Open Championship.

The leading player finishing inside the top five this week and not otherwise exempt into next week’s Open will be on his way to Birkdale. 

Luck will use one of the seven invitations available to him as a non-member of the PGA tour in 2017 and appears already on track to secure a place in the Web.Com Tour Finals later in the year provided he finishes inside the top 200 of the Fed Ex Cup. He is currently in around 160th position and if then able to finish in the top 25 money winners from that series he will be on his way to the PGA Tour.

Luck, though, will no doubt have his sights set even higher than that, perhaps a win and automatic membership of the PGA Tour or enough points to earn Special Temporary membership and play the rest of the season neither of which is not yet beyond the realms of possibility and no doubt still on his mind.

Matt Jones has enjoyed a good record in this event having finished inside the top seven on three occasions and having made nine of eleven cuts this season he might be approaching a very good week.  He could use it however as he is currently 137th on the FedEx Cup table after playing on non exempt status in 2017.

The event has regularly been played around the time of the Open Championship and so the fields have typically reflected the fact that many of the leading players are elsewhere. That was not the case last year when there was a reshuffle in the schedule to accommodate the Olympics.

This week Zach Johnson, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na, Charles Howell 111, Wesley Bryan, Kyle Stanley and Brian Harman are a few of the leading players this week who will be off to Southport in England on Sunday night to prepare for the Open Championship.

Moore is the defending champion but his most recent form suggests he might well struggle this week. He missed the cut at the Memorial which was his last start and has generally not played well since his 9th place at the Masters.

Moore has been bothered by a shoulder injury of late but that he is here and ready to play suggests he is in reasonable shape and could improve sharply.

Daniel Berger has been in outstanding from of late winning in Memphis and the finishing runner-up at the Travelers Championship. Berger is playing the event for the first occasion which is an interesting twist given his appearance at the Open next week but on his current form alone he must be considered.

Brian Harman won this event in 2014 and has been in great from this year winning the Wells Fargo Championship and then finishing runner-up at the US Open.

Zach Johnson has been a winner and three times runner-up at the TPC Deere Run and although he has been below his best for much of this season he has a great affinity with this layout which could see him improve especially against this weaker field.   

Charles Howell has hardly starred in this event over the years but he has made six of seven cuts and is very much an improved golfer in 2017. Howell has not won in ten years but he has been twice runner-up in 2017 and could do well.

Steve Stricker has perhaps the best record in this event having won on three consecutive occasions in the late 2000’s and there has been enough in the way of good finishes of late to suggest he will not be out of his depth this week despite him now being a Champions Tour player.

The event carries a purse of US$5,600,000.




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