Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The Quad Cities is home to this week’s Tour stop at the TPC Deere Run. The John Deere Classic is a fun-filled week for both the players and fans. It is also the pros’ last opportunity to get into the field at St. Andrews. Because the JDC takes place the week prior to the British Open, many of the top names are left off its list. However, Deere Run still attracts some crowd favorites to an exciting venue. Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Palmer, K.J. Choi, Davis Love III, David Duval, and Iowa-native Zach Johnson headline the field. I like a recent champion in Bubba Watson to win. Bubba won a three-way playoff for the Travelers title two weeks ago. He leads the Tour in birdie average at 4.22 birds per round, which are in high supply at Deere Run. Watson is known for his monstrous drives, but he also ranks in the top 20 in GIR and putting average. I expect the annual shootout in the Quad Cities. So the winner will have to go low quickly. U of I men’s golf coach Mike Small will serve as my darkhorse this week. After his third victory in the PGA Professional’s Championship last week, his confidence must be riding high. Small has seen a lot of success lately both as a player and coach. His record at Deere Run is far from stellar, but he stands a chance if he believes in himself. I hope this Danville Viking is in contention come Sunday. CBS airs the action from the JDC.

LPGA Tour – The ladies will be competing for a third major title this week in Pittsburgh at famed Oakmont Country Club. The forecast is hot and humid, which will only make one of the most challenging courses in the world even more formidable. The country celebrated a few weeks ago when one of our own, Cristie Kerr, finally broke through with a major victory. At this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, I am hoping for another American champion. Kerr is the frontrunner by a longshot. She is having a terrific year, and she has two majors under her belt. Paula Creamer is coming off of recent wrist surgery. Michelle Wie has won on the LPGA Tour now, but she has not seemed extremely focused on her game as of late. Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel, Brittany Ward and Brittany Lincicome have not lived up to their hype either. So I believe it is up to Kerr to regain control of our pride in women’s golf. Of the last six U.S. Open’s, two have been won by Americans. Hopefully, Oakmont will improve upon that statistic. The course is set up similar to the men’s Open here three years ago. Oakmont is not extremely long, but it is demanding and has plenty of sand. Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato are the big names to watch for. NBC carries USGA events.

European Tour – The prelude to the Open Championship in Europe is the Loch Lomond of Scotland. Phil Mickelson is in the field along with Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Retief Goosen, Ryo Ishikawa, Robert Allenby, Camilo Villegas, the Molinari brothers, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Tom Lehman, John Daly, JB Holmes, Fred Funk, Alvaro Quiros, and Colin Montgomerie. The course is beautifully set right on the loch in the Scottish highlands. It is a wonderful tournament that can be seen State-side on the Golf Channel.

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