The last few weeks of non-major PGA Tour events have had relatively anonymous winners, and this week’s John Deere Classic could produce another one. There is no golfer in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings at TPC Deere Run this week. The highest ranked golfer here is Charles Howell III at No. 55. He is 25/1 to win.
Viktor Hovland, who turned professional after finishing 12th at the US Open, has only played in three events since then. Still the Norwegian is the 16/1 co-favorite. Collin Morikawa is the other top pick. Morikawa turned pro two weeks before Hovland. He finished tied for second last week at the 3M Open, and said the pressure of being on the PGA Tour has not gotten to him.
“I’ve told everyone, I’ve felt very comfortable since the first day I’ve stepped out here on the PGA TOUR, come a month ago in Canada,” Morikawa said. “Last week I didn’t feel the nerves until I hit that approach shot on 18.”
Where is Everyone?
Some of the top golfers, such as Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, are playing in the Scottish Open, trying to prepare for links golf with the Open Championship next week. Those not in Scotland, like Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka, are taking the week off to rest for the final major championship of the year.
Besides Howell, there are only six other golfers in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings. While the lack of star power doesn’t make the organizers of the John Deere Classic very happy, it does present an opportunity for players who either haven’t won on tour before, or haven’t seen a victory in several years.
That seems to be a trend on tour the last few events that weren’t majors. First-time winner Matthew Wolff won the 3M Open, the week before, Nate Lashley won for the first time as well. Chez Reavie won the Travelers Championship the week before that, and won his only other tournament in 2008.
Morikawa hopes he can continue that trend this week.
“I think ever since Canada I’ve had a lot of confidence,” Morikawa said. “I’ve been able to kind of build off of that. U.S. Open obviously was great just to play in a major. But yeah, we’re just past the halfway point of my summer, and I look forward to kind of finishing this off and see where it takes us.”
Johnson Looking to Rebound
Zach Johnson has had a difficult season so far, with his best finish a tie for seventh at the RSM Classic in November. Since a tie for 16th in April, Johnson has played in five events, and missed two cuts. His highest finish a tie for 35th.
Johnson has fallen out of the top 100 in the OWGR for the first time in his career. He is at 108 and said he is using it to try and motivate himself this week.
“I mean, it’s motivating, right, more than anything because I know — I just feel like every time I’ve had — I’ve never really had my back up against the wall, but every time I’ve kind of been in a position where I’ve had to step up, at some point it’s happened, and I don’t know why that won’t happen again,” Johnson said.