The fact Francesco Molinari at 10/1 is, along with Bryson DeChambeau, the British bookmakers favorite to win this week's John Deere Classic says at least two things about this long-standing US PGA Tour event annual played at TPC Deere Run.
One of them is how far the 35-year-old Italian has come in the past six months.
The other is the apparent fact that the bulk of the World's highest ranked golfers are either on their way to Scotland or are already there, some gearing up for next week's 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, others playing in its lucrative curtain-raiser, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
Six months ago Molinari was No 21 in the World Rankings and hadn't won anything since September 2016.
Today he is, at No 15, the highest ranked player in this week's John Deere field and has won twice in just over a month, these victories coming in the European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship at the end of May and the US PGA Tour's Quicken Loans National two weekends ago.
And if this doesn't say a lot about the new level he has aspired to as a professional golfer, you can get further confirmation of it by taking a quick look back at the flawless final round he produced in seeing off Rory McIlroy by two shots at the BMW PGA and at the stunning final-round 62 that swept him to an eight-shot victory at the Quicken Loans.
As far as I know, no Italian has ever been the favorite to win a US PGA Tour event, but I am not surprised at all at the high place the bookies have reserved for him this week.
In fact, if anything does surprise me, it is the fact that Molinari is not at lower odds than he is.
DeChambeau is not up there with him for nothing, though. This talented, unconventional US young gun is, of course, the defending champion and while he'll have some wonderful memories of his victory last year to fuel him, Molinari will be playing at TPC Deere Run for the first time.
Zach Johnson, who at 12/1 is close behind the favorites on the bookie's list of odds, is another American who is not going to allow a foreigner to win as easily as Molinari did at the QLN. The former Open Champion has an excellent record at TPC Dere Run which for him is a home game.
Johnson won here in 2012 and since 2009 he has also picked up three 2nd places, two 3ds and a has an impressive scoring average of 66.89.
And Joaquin Niemann? The bookies have set this 19-year-old Chilean upstart (the world No 1 amateur when he turned professional in April this year) in 4th place behind DeChambeau, Molinaro, and Johnson at 16/1 and clearly see great potential in him, partly, I would say, because his tie for 5th in the Greenbrier last week was his 4th top 10 finish in just eight starts as a professional.
Niemann is exactly the kind of player the tournament organizers of the John Deere Classic want - as were De Chambeau and Xander Schauffele, the events last two winners.
Every year they invite emergent talent to play at TPC Deere Run, one of them, DeChambeau being an amateur when he got the nod in 2015.
This year the invitees include Fred Haskins Award winner Norman Xiong, NCAA individual champion Broc Everett, 2017 US Amateur runner-up Doug Ghim and former University of Illinois teammates Dylan Meyer and Nick Hardy.
The weather forecast is not a good one. Thunderstorms late on Thursday, for most of Friday and late on Sunday, could be disruptive, but it shouldn't stop Molinari, DeChambeau, and Johnson from being the men to beat or Niemann, as a lightish dark horse, from being one of the men able to do it.
LATEST LEADING ODDS
(Tuesday a.m. July 10, 2019)
Bryson DeChambeau 10/1
Francesco Molinari 10/1
Zach Johnson 12/1
Joaquin Niemann 16/1
Ryan Moore 18/1
Brandt Snedeker 20/1
Steve Stricker 20/1
Kyle Stanley 20/1
Chesson Hadley 30/1
Austin Cook 40/1
Wesley Bryan 40/1
Andrew Landry 45/1
David Lingmerth 50/1
Chris Kirk 55/1
Brian Gay 60/1
Aaron Wise 60/1
Patrick Rodgers 60/1
C T Pan 66/1
Kevin Streelman 60/1
Kelly Kraft 66/1.
NOTE: For all the latest odds go to www.oddschecker.com/golf/john-deere-classic/winner.
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