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Risk and Reward - John Deere Classic

This is an open letter to my idiot neighbors. Its Tuesday. Three days after Independence Day. Please stop lighting off fireworks at 10:00 p.m. and turning my dog into the animal equivalent of a frightened, old shut-in. There are only so many ways for me to comfortably type with a 65 pound labrador on my lap.

On a parallel note, Donald Trump has quickly blown up any goodwill he earned through his redesigns and successful tournaments prior to his "presidential" run. While bloviation and obnoxious antics are his calling card, his comments still run well afoul of proper public conduct. His involvement in the PGA Tour needs to be thoroughly examined if the game wants to actively court, as it has been doing, Latino players in Central and Southern Americas. The removal of the Grand Slam of Golf from his Los Angeles course is a good start. Trump, there's plenty of dumb things to say and write without infuriating an entire population, I would know, I do it all the time.

Of course, there are also plenty of dumb things to do, as Scott Stallings has quickly discovered. I won't weigh in on the circumstances or on Tour policy, but come on, man! Read the darn label and the rules! It's only your career and reputation on the line, no big deal. I'm sure Stallings can tell you almost every weird rule in the oddball golf rulebook, but take 15 minutes to check your supplement against the list? Nah, too difficult.

My Power Rankings draw on statistics only, while Risk and Reward draws more on gut feel and intuition about players who missed my Top 15. In this column, you'll find "Lay-Up", "Going For It", and "Hazard". Look for more subjective analysis here, as opposed to the Power Rankings, where I rely strictly on data. Lay-Up may contain players who, barring a Great Flood, will bank you some points. Going For It is where I'll have players that may have missed the Power Rankings or who I feel present an excellent opportunity to pick up a win, but carry some considerable risk. Lastly, Hazards, where I often find myself on any given Sunday, should be avoided.


Jim Herman - TA: 57.75, CHG: (-17.4) - Ball-striker extraordinaire. Third over all in Greens in Regulation, which, as I mentioned in my Power Rankings, is a critical stat for this week. I also said putting was important, but, Herman is not an especially good putter, so take all this for what its worth. Prior to his missed cut at The Greenbrier, Herman was on a 7-for-7 stretch which included a Top 5 and Top 15. Herman has a Top 10 here in 2013.

Harris English - TA: 48.14, CHG: (-1.6) - English has been stuck in golf purgatory all season, and I'm not talking about the language in my posts. He's had some highlights, which is to be expected for someone with his talent, but nothing resembling consistency. Particularly for Yahoo! Group A, where he's basically the only decent pick, English's length, ball-striking and putting should make him a dangerous person this week.

David Hearn - TA: 53.38, CHG: (+19.6) - Coming off a hard-fought playoff loss to Danny Lee, Hearn moves straight into a tournament where he lost to some kid named Jordan Spieth. I have no idea who that is, but Hearn is looking pretty sharp to contend again this week. With a decent history and decent form in a weak field, Hearn should do just fine.


Brendon de Jonge - TA: 54.63, CHG: (+8) - He's never completely off the map, but playing him correctly takes a little learning. I can say this for certain, he makes a lot of birdies. Ant farm tipped over in your bedroom a lot. Solid ball striker, middle-of-the-road putter, and accurate driver, just missing that head on his shoulders down the stretch to close the deal. One of these tournaments he'll get it right and I'm thinking it could be this week.

J.J. Henry - TA: 57, CHG: (+17.4) - Had him in my hazards not too long ago and he's played his way out to longshot-ville. Hits a ton of greens and still smacks its a mile, Henry is missing, well, everything else. Coming off just his second Top 15 of the season at The Greenbrier, where he posted four consecutive red numbers, Henry is returning to a place where he's enjoyed some success. With a Top 10 and Top 15 in his last three starts here, Henry should be comfortable enough to contend.


Jason Kokrak - TA: 77.68, CHG: (+9.2) - Missed the cut in his only attempt here and given his impressive inaccuracy off the tee, I'm not thinking he finds his footing here. There are much better starts as it has been seven starts now since he's placed in the Top 45.

Pat Perez - TA: 52.63, CHG: (+0.8) - Any other course, and he's a solid pick. At Deere Run, however, Perez has just two finishes inside the Top 25 in roughly a dozen attempts, both coming way back in 2002 and 2003. He's slammed his trunk on Friday in each of his last three starts here, so no matter how sharp his current form is, that's a whole lotta entropy to overcome for him to win here.

Normally, I'd list here who I've started this week in my non money games. Since I'm continuing my challenge to all of you (I swept again over at GoDraft) and you're going to be taking my money, I'll leave my even-shorter list hidden. Come find me over at if you must know come Thursday morning.  

Thanks for Reading!
Kyle Donovan