Sobel’s Matchup Preview: Backing Youngsters in the Scottish Open and John Deere Classic

Credit:

Orlando Ramirez, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Zach Johnson

  • It's the week before a major and most of golf's biggest stars are in Scotland for the Scottish Open.
  • There are plenty of young guns still Stateside for the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.
  • Jason Sobel previews two matchups in the Scottish Open and the John Deere Classic.

It only happens a few times each year, but easily the bigger tournament this week is on the European Tour, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler teeing it up at the Scottish Open and exactly zero top-50 players at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic.

Plenty of matchup options from these two events, so I’m listing my two favorites from each here, starting with the Scottish.

Scottish Open Matchup Picks

Robert MacIntyre (Even) over Gavin Green

In case you weren’t sure whether the 22-year-old Scotsman was ready for the spotlight, he’ll be thrust into it this week, paired with Rory and Rickie for the opening two rounds.

The European Tour wouldn’t just give that tee time to only ol’ schlub; they saved it for one of the most talented up-and-comers on that circuit. He owns a pair of runner-up finishes in his last five starts and has only missed one cut in his last 10. I expect him to show up this week against the big boys. Even though Green has put together some very respectable results in the past month, give me the pure talent of MacIntyre here.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (+125) over Henrik Stenson

I’ve got nothing against Stenson this week; in fact, I like him on any course where he can fire 3-woods like they were shot out of a cannon. But Fitzy is just too large of an underdog in this one. We’ve seen him go extremely low and unconscionably high in some serious situations this year, but I think he’s ready to start playing more consistent golf. He was T-14 at last year’s Scottish Open, and I like him to improve upon that performance, finishing somewhere in the top-10 this week and bringing some momentum to Royal Portrush next week.

John Deere Classic Matchup Picks

Kyle Stanley (-105) over Zach Johnson

From the years 2009 through 2015, Johnson recorded six top-three finishes at the John Deere. In his last 40 rounds at this event, he’s broken par 38 times. All told, he’s cashed more than $3 million here. Nobody loves this tourney more than the local guy, who’s an absolute Quad Cities legend. And so, of course, I’m fading him this week.

Look, I understand why anyone would find this a foolish wager, but this is a different ZJ than the one who’s been coming here for years.

He recently fell outside the world’s top-100 and in 14 starts this year, he’s yet to finish better than 16th place. Stanley, meanwhile, has been trending in the right direction after a poor start to the year. He’s an above-average ball-striker and while he doesn’t have the course history of Johnson, he has played well at TPC Deere Run before. I like him as the underdog in this one.

Sam Burns (-115) over Bud Cauley

In my pre-tournament preview, I wrote that I like Burns in potential head-to-head matchups because of his penchant for reaching the weekend.

The LSU product has made 14 starts this year and has two WDs, but no MCs. He’s also fresh off a T-7 last week. Cauley isn’t the easiest matchup, but he has missed the cut in eight of 18 starts this year. I see value on Burns in the fact that he essentially owns two ways of winning this bet – on Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. I like those chances.

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