Stricker’s incredible record at TPC Deere Run is undoubtedly impressive, but he’s not quite managed to find the same consistency in 2012 that he’s been known for over the last few years. Stricker did win his first event of the year in Hawaii, but since then he hasn’t managed a single top-5 finish, which makes me content to leave him out of my staking plan.
Looking back at recent winners here, one stat jumps out as being of great importance – Birdie Average. With winning totals of 20-under, 26-under and 22-under in the last three years, it goes without saying that the winner needs to be making lots of birdies. Indeed, each of the last five winners (Byrd, Perry, Stricker x 3) has ranked inside the top-15 in Birdie Average over the course of the season in which they won here.
Although the course has been lengthened a few times since the tournament moved here in 2000, players with strong wedge games (of which Stricker is a master) tend to perform well at TPC Deere Run too. Last year, five of the top six on the leaderboard ranked inside the top-30 on tour in GIR Percentage <75 yards over the course of the 2011 season, so this is well worth considering this year.
Here are my 7 men against the field this week:
Jeff Overton – Overton makes another appearance in my selections this week as I simply can’t bring myself to leave him out when I firmly believe his maiden victory is just around the corner. Overton’s current form reads 13-22-17 and his course form reads 10-41-24 which would suggest this week is as good as any for Overton to find that elusive first win. Overton ranks 13th on tour in Birdie Average, 15th in Par 4 Birdie or Better Leaders, and he’s a very solid wedge player.
2.5pts each way (35/1 Paddy Power)
John Senden – 2006 winner John Senden has had a solid, if unspectacular season on the PGA tour. The 41 year-old has four top-10 finishes to his name, including at the similarly low-scoring Humana Challenge where he finished in a tie for 6th. Although Senden’s form took a bit of a dip recently, his last tournament start was an impressive tie for 10th in the brutal US Open, so something must be working. Stats-wise, Senden hits bags of greens – ranking 5th on tour in GIR, and he currently ranks 10th in Birdie Average.
2.5pts each way (40/1 widely available)
Sean O’Hair – It is not all that long ago that Sean O’Hair was one of the most revered young players on the PGA tour. Having won this very event in 2005, O’Hair was voted PGA tour rookie of the year, and looked a major winner in the making. Jumping ahead a few years, 2011 was beginning to look like a miserable season for O’Hair with a plethora of missed cuts in events he once loved. However, he grinded his way to a playoff at the Canadian Open nearly a year ago, and managed to dig out his fourth PGA tour win. 2012 started brightly with a tie for 2nd at the Sony Open, and although he hasn’t been able to replicate that form since, he bagged his second top-10 of the season last week at the Greenbrier Classic which should give him renewed confidence heading to TPC Deere Run.
2pts each way (40/1 widely available)
Tim Clark – Having once been inside the top-20 in the world rankings, Tim Clark is clearly a player of immense talent, and he finally broke through with a PGA tour win two years ago at the Players Championship. Elbow surgery saw Clark sit out much of the 2011 season, but he seems to be back to full fitness and posted his best PGA tour finish in over 17 months in his last start at the Travelers Championship. Clark has a very sharp wedge game, and it’s no surprise to see his excellent record at TPC Deere Run where his last three starts read 2-18-7.
2pts each way (40/1 Stan James)
Charley Hoffman – Another player who has caught my eye lately is Charley Hoffman, who has shown real signs of form recently without picking up any silverware. Most notably, Hoffman was runner-up in the recent Travelers Championship, and his tie for 22nd at the following week’s AT&T National was not a bad effort on a tough track. Although Hoffman didn’t play his best golf last week despite his opening 66, it was hard to know for sure whether he would take to the tweaked Great White TPC, which he clearly didn’t. Hoffman’s last two visits to TPC Deere Run read 15-7, so he brings some excellent progressive form to the table this week. As a past winner of the Bob Hope Classic, Hoffman is clearly more than capable of shooting low numbers, and he currently ranks 33rd on tour in Birdie Average.
1.75pts each way (50/1 Paddy Power)
Daniel Summerhays – Although Summerhays missed the cut here last year, he was in the midst of a pretty torrid rookie season which saw him miss 21 cuts, so this prior course form can be largely ignored. Summerhays has clearly found something in his game in recent months and has finished inside the top-5 in two of his last four starts. The 28 year-old ranks inside the top-20 on tour in GIR Percentage <75 yards, he ranks 12th in GIR, and his putting was better than it's been all season last week at the Greenbrier Classic.
1.25pts each way (80/1 Stan James)
Will Claxton – My rank outsider for this week, Will Claxton, is enjoying a pretty solid rookie season in which he’s only missed five cuts out of 19 starts. Furthermore, he’s finished inside the top-25 in two of his last three starts and closed with an excellent 65 last week at the Greenbrier Classic. Claxton is a great ball-striker and ranks 16th on tour in GIR, as well as ranking inside the top-20 in GIR Percentage <75 yards. His birdie average may not be quite as high as I'd like, but he does enough well to suggest he's worth an each-way bet at a triple-figure price.
0.75pts each way (150/1 Boylesports)