It's the week before the British Open, which means it's time for the Steve Stricker/Zach Johnson Invitational! That's right, the John Deere Classic is back and so are these two favorite sons of the Midwest to fire low scores! And. . . well . . . there aren't too many other recognizable names in the field, sadly. Defending champ Bryson DeChambeau is the defending champ and the only player ranked in the top 25 of the Official World Golf Ranking. But there's still a big check and a trophy up for grabs, along with a coveted spot in the field at Carnoustie. So here's the fab foursome we're rolling with at TPC Deere Run:
Steve Stricker: The Strick Show finished T-5 here at age 50 last year and he's playing even better this season. Stricker has a PGA Tour Champions (co)leading two wins in 2018 while earning $549,838 in just nine PGA Tour starts. If the man who once three-peated in this event is ever going to add to his PGA Tour total of 12 titles, this is the place.
Zach Johnson: Another obvious pick, but why not? From 2009 to 2015, Johnson finished in the top 3 at TPC Deere Run an incredible six times. The most surprising part of his stellar track record in this event is that he's only won once (2012). ZJ got off to a slow start to 2018 -- ranking 90th in strokes gained putting isn't helping -- but a T-12 at the U.S. Open followed by a solid showing at the Travelers (T-19) indicates he's rounding into form. And again, even if he wasn't, he's basically a lock to shoot four scores in the 60s at this track.
Bryson DeChambeau: This might seem like a bit of a throwaway week for this rising star, but think again. He's got added motivation for being the defending champ at a PGA Tour event for the first time, wanting to stay in contention for an automatic Ryder Cup spot, and because of the USGA recently ruling against his drawing compass. And as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a man scorned by the USGA.
Joaquin Niemann: How good is this 19-year-old kid? After earning temporary status on the PGA Tour for the rest of the season in June, he earned his tour card for next season a month later thanks to a T-5 at the Greenbrier. Just look at these (unofficial) stats!
In just eight starts as a pro, the Chilean already has four top 10s and more than $1 million in earnings. It wouldn't shock anyone for him to win this week and lock up PGA Tour status for the next two seasons.