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Power Rankings - John Deere Classic

With regard to statistical detail and analysis, there's depth. Then there's subterranean depth. Followed by Journey to the Center of the Earth depth. Finally, there's this: Homefield Labs' wind analysis. Its got so much depth that it has punched through to the other side of the planet. I mean, I've considered these things here and there, since morning and afternoon draws bring a certain level of disparity on a given day, but that article is downright scientific. Read it, learn and try not to forget it like you normally would after finals are done.

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This week brings a level of intrigue following the reports of Rory McIlroy's ankle injury. Just a few months ago, when Jordan Spieth snagged his first green jacket, Rory was so far out ahead in the world rankings that even the Masters winner himself noted how far he still had to go to catch up. Fast forward to today and McIlroy's grip looks tenuous following Spieth's second major victory. With (approximately) a 7th place finish or better at this week's John Deere Classic and a victory at The Open Championship, Spieth will force a change at the top of the OWGR for the first time the WGC-Bridgestone last year. 

The John Deere Classic has been played at TPC Deere Run since 1999, where J.L. Lewis won the inaugural iteration in a playoff over Mike Brisky. Given the tournament's unfortunate position more than 12 hours on a plane and just one week before the year's third major, this 7,268 yard par-71 doesn't get much love. Well, unless your name is Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker or Jordan Spieth. This is a ball-striker's course, given the dominance of those three and the winner over the last 15 years, so bonus points for high GIR percentages and strong putters.

For those of you not familiar with my Power Rankings, I'll be listing the Top-15 with their Total Aggregate (TA), a number that combines recent performance with course history and some select other metrics, and the change (CHG) from the last tournament they participated in. Total Aggregate is out of 100, with a lower number indicating a better ranking.

Power Rankings

  1. Zach Johnson - TA: 15.00, CHG: (+2.2) - Sorry Tony Finau, no three-peat even with your solid 13th place finish last week. Not surprising given that Johnson has five finishes in the Top 3 in his last six starts here. But wait! There's more! His last three tries include two second place finishes and a win. Factor in his recent solid form with two Top 10s and three Top 25s in six starts, and there's no better combo of history and form right now.
  2. Jordan Spieth - TA: 20.57, CHG: (+5.6) - Serving up the big surprises already. Really though, you could flip a coin for Spieth or Johnson this week since Spieth has the edge in current form but Johnson has the edge in history. Spieth's run toward World #1 got my spiel earlier as did where needs to finish for a win at The Open Championship to make it happen. Shouldn't be too hard for him, since he finished 7th here last year and won the year prior.
  3. Robert Streb - TA: 25.25, CHG: (+3.2) - His 3-putt bogey at the 17th on Sunday took away a precious stroke en route to what could have been a win. Normally, that'd be unforgivable but he also had 5 birdies. Putting with a wedge. Further proof that we mere mortals would lose to most TOUR pros even if we only gave them one club. I had mentioned last week that he seemed to be finding form and he certainly proved that. Keep an eye out for more.
  4. Tony Finau - TA: 27.5, CHG: (+1.2) - Didn't so much fall down in the rankings as he got passed by other players. He's been so excellent over his maiden season that he's going to get his win, I just don't know if its this week, this year, or this decade. He's never played the John Deere Classic and I haven't either but only one of us has any chance at getting over the hump this week.
  5. Steven Bowditch - TA: 28.25, CHG: (+6.8) - I love to see players like Bowditch, hardly the most talked about player out there, making waves. The guy has quietly won twice and, now, in the midst of a career year, comes into Deere Run red-hot. Bowditch has two Top 15s in his last three starts here and two straight finished in the Top 15 in his last two starts this season.
  6. Scott Brown - TA: 33.88, CHG: (-0.8) - Primarily here as a nod to course history and decent form. Brown has two Top 10s and a Top 25 in his last three starts at the John Deere Classic. Statistically, Brown runs about middle of the pack, doing most things decent but not great. Likewise, his current form is more Chevy Malibu than Mercedes E-Class - adequate but not flashy.
  7. Kevin Kisner - TA: 35.63, CHG: (0) - It's pretty clear that the Kevin Kisner we have today is not at all the same player that missed the cut back-to-back years at the John Deere. He's this low because I can't ignore information that factors in for every other player. With all of that out of the way, Kisner just lost his third playoff in eight starts. In the biz, we call that knocking on the door. Until he gives good reason to believe otherwise, he's an emerging premier talent.
  8. Jerry Kelly - TA: 37.5, CHG: (-15.6) - I can hear you jeering now, "But Kyle! He's missed the cut in his last two starts!" Yes, you're right, but he's also the owner of two Top 5 finishes in his last two starts here. Kelly is a solid putter and also happens to be extremely accurate off the tee. If he can sharpen up his approach game, he'll succeed this week.
  9. Kevin Chappell - TA: 38.57, CHG: (-4.2) - Played Saturday and Sunday at +2 to throw it away on the weekend when the weather got a little wet. The finish still makes for six consecutive cuts for Chappell, who appears to be rebuilding some part of his game as he's way down from some of his 2014 numbers. If he can keep rolling the putter well and find his tee-to-green game from last year, he'll make some noise as the season draws to an end.
  10. Bryce Molder - TA: 40, CHG: (+11.4) - Molder's sixth place finish at The Greenbrier is his first Top 10 since a third place finish at the Fry' Open to kickoff the season. Molder is an excellent putter but doesn't have much else going him, except for four straight Top 30s at the John Deere, including a Top 15 in his last attempt.
  11. George McNeill - TA: 41.63, CHG: (+1.2) - Another solid putter coming off decent results at the Greenbrier. McNeill isn't having as solid a season as he was last year but, excepting the missed cut at the U.S. Open, he's rounding into a consistent Top 25 pick given his propensity to simply make cuts and cash checks. If he comes with good value, pick him up.
  12. Chad Campbell - TA: 41.75, CHG: (+6.2) - There's plenty to like about Campbell as he heads into the John Deere Classic. Finished last year as the leader in Greens in Regulation and, while he's a little bit off pace from that this year, he's putting substantially better than 2014. Campbell has made his last three cuts and has two Top 15s in his last two starts here.
  13. Shawn Stefani - TA: 42, CHG: (+17.4) - Three consecutive rounds of 67 propelled Stefani up the leaderboard to a 13th place finish at the Greenbrier. Its hard to find a course where he doesn't, in some way, make a solid fit and Deere Run is no exception. Managed to find a 13th place finish here last year but missed the cut in his only other attempt at this tournament.
  14. Brian Harman - TA: 42.57, CHG: (0) - Last year's winner has been somewhat flat this year right up until he battled it out with Bubba Watson at the Travelers Championship, coming away with a 3rd place finish. Its hard to discount the guy who won the previous year and he's no exception. We've already seen a few successful defenses this year, so why not another?
  15. Chez Reavie - TA: 43.38, CHG: (+15.6) - In a field lacking depth, there's a fair amount of surprises. Reavie is coming in with three consecutive Top 25 finishes and has 15th place and 5th place finishes in his last three tries here. Reavie hits a ton of fairways and greens but struggles with the flatstick somewhat. If he gets the rock rolling well, he'll contend. If he doesn't I still see a solid finish from him this week.
Thanks for Reading!

Kyle Donovan
John Deere Classic Fantasy Golf Power Rankings