6-1 Zach looks value to stop Stricker Deere run
JOHN DEERE CLASSIC - STORY OF ROUND THREE
JOURNEYMAN Troy Matteson triple-putted the last hole at Deere Run last night to open the door for Steve Stricker to drive through to his fourth straight victory in the John Deere Classic - but first the pre-tournament 7-1 favourite has to make up three shots on the 200-1 outsider.
The layers still make Matteson favourite at 13-8 but, with Stricker and chief market rival Zach Johhson right on his tail, not too many expect the leader to stay in front. All three men shot 66s on the birdie-strewn par-71 layout on which Stricker stands 83 under par for his last 14 rounds and Johnson posted his 15th straight sub-70.
Stricker, now at 2-1, dropped a shot himself at the last after a wayward drive but had preceded that error with the four consecutive birdies that lifted him into a prime challenging position for his second victory of 2012. The putting problems which had marred his summer appeared a thing of the past as he holed putt after birdie putt in another sizzling display on his favourite course.
He and 6-1 shot Johnson, the two stars of golf in America's Mid-West, will carry the crowd with them today and as Matteson, who has led from day one, says: "Nobody will be paying any attention to what I do. It's great for me if I win but if Stricker wins, it's a great story."
Johnson, second and third to Stricker at the Illinois course in two of the last three years, is a stroke behind the defending champion in a share of third place with rookie left-hander Brian Harman, a pre-tournament 150-1 shot who appears to be feeding off last week's success of another rookie lefty, Ted Potter. He got within a stroke of Matteson, a double winner of the Frys.com Open in 2006 and 2009, at one stage.
John Senden, the tall Aussie who won the 2006 John Deere, is among those at 13 under and five off the pace but even on a soft course where Matteson opened up with a 61, it's difficult to see anybody else getting past the front three in the betting.
TODAY'S BETTING ADVICE
Matteson, a tour regular since 2006, has the two big names on his tail but neither Stricker nor Johnson carries the fear factor of a Tiger Woods. Even if he gets beaten, Matteson will almost certainly get the last spot in the Open Championship as his two main dangers have already qualified.
Of more concern than the quality of his closest purusers is the fact that the leader is having such a poor season and, despite being 18 under par, does not really look in control of his game. He has got away with some loose driving so far but when push comes to shove on Sunday's back nine, will his luck hold?
Clark, 3pts 5-6 Bet365 (4.45)
Compton, 1pt 23-20 Bet365 (5.05)
Christian, 1pt 21-20 Bet365 (5.45)