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Bulldogs Combine, Look to Plow Through PGA Tour Field

John Deere Classic - Final Round Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Tournament: John Deere Classic, July 8-11, 2021

Course: TPC Deere Run, par 71, 7,268 yards. Located in Silvis, IL which is about 2 hours west of Chicago and on the Iowa border.

Purse: $6.2 million total, $1,116,000 to the winner

Defending Champ: Dylan Fritelli. The South African shot weekend rounds to surpass 3rd round leader Andrew Landry, and to hold off hard charging Bulldog Russell Henley. Henley’s Saturday round of 72 pushed him down the leaderboard, but he bounced back Sunday with a 61** to hold the clubhouse lead, and eventually a solo 2nd place.

Fun Fact: Lots of them. **Henley’s 61 would be a course record most places. But back in 2010, Steve Stricker shot 60, only to be surpassed by Paul Goydos who recorded a rare 59. There are little John Deere tractors as tee markers on each hole. They put a weird giant-sized putter on a backhoe and used it to hit a giant-sized golf ball. This tourney has produced 23 first-time winners, way more than any other tournament (considering it’s only 50 years old). That includes Georgia’s own Brian Harman (pictured above) and guys like Jordan Spieth.

TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

‘Dawgs in the Field: 5. Brian Harman, Keith Mitchell, Hudson Swafford, Russell Henley, Sepp Straka.

This is the 50th version of the old Quad Cities Classic, now with a fun corporate sponsor. As mentioned, above 23 of the 49 versions have provided the winner his first PGA Tour title. There’s a reason for that.

Next week is the British Open (sure, to the purists, it’s “The Open”. We’ll dive more into that next week). As the season’s final, and the game’s oldest major, the Open pulls a pretty strong field. It is also hosted in the British Isles, which isn’t quite an Uber downtown. So most of the world’s best head across the pond to acclimate to the time difference and to work on their knock down shots. And probably to stock up on jumpers and rain gloves.

As a result, this tournament gets its full complement of players from journeyman pros and those with less status and those not qualified for the Open. That in turn produces first-time winners a lot of the time.

Knowing the difficult Tour calendar slot, tournament organizers have secured two perks. One, it gives the final Open invitation to the highest finisher in the top 5 not already qualified for the Open. Second, they have a chartered plane that leaves Sunday night and flies over the Atlantic overnight to deliver any John Deere players who are qualified to play in the Open. That makes it easier to get a few decent names and players to help the marquee, the TV ratings, and the crowds.

The good news is that Brian Harman, Keith Mitchell, and Russell Henley already have plane tickets to Heathrow, as they are Open invitees. So just to be fair, maybe they can run some interference and allow either Keith Mitchell to get his 2nd Tour win, or Sepp Straka his first. That would be in line with the traditional thinking, at least to this tortured soul.

So that’s who to root for and how to watch. Flip it on over to CBS and Golf Channel to watch some ‘Dawgs on a tough row to hoe. And as always...