2021 John Deere Classic leaderboard, grades: Lucas Glover breaks drought, earns first win in 10 years

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You are not supposed to win PGA Tour events in three different decades – especially when 10 years have passed since you last won one – but that’s what Lucas Glover accomplished on Sunday at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run with a two-stroke win over Kevin Na and Ryan Moore.

Glover shot a closing 64 with birdies at five of the last seven holes to race out in front, get in the house at 19 under and watch everyone behind him stumble home. It was a rarity for the PGA Tour. Normally at a point-and-shoot finale like this one on a soft track like TPC Deere Run, you don’t post early and hold on, but normally you don’t see a lot of 64s from golfers in contention.

The 2009 U.S. Open champion has always been an elite ball-striker. That’s what propelled him to a really impressive early part of his career, and that’s what carried him again throughout the week. He finished fourth in the field in that category and rolled in four putts from 12 feet or more Sunday. When Glover is banging in putts from that distance, it’s going to be a problem for the rest of any field he’s going up against.

Glover struggled mightily in the middle of his career. After winning that U.S. Open and the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship, his short game fell apart. From 2012 to 2015, it was a borderline disaster. Unsurprisingly, all of his wins came either before or now after that time period. In recent years, the short-game ship has been steadied, and his top-10 percentage on the PGA Tour has skyrocketed. There were several tournaments where Glover contended, but he still came into this week on a 10-year drought.

The list of players who have now won in the 2000s, 2010s and 2020s is as intriguing as it is impressive, and while nobody would ever compare Glover to Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson, he shares an underrated and impressive longevity with them.

There are myriad underrated characteristics for golfers to possess. One of them is longevity. The ability to play at a world-class level for an extended period of time. When that happens (and you hit it like Glover does), normally wins just get in the way at some point. Glover possesses that characteristic, and he’s now had several victories – including one Sunday at the John Deere – get in his way over the course of a long and successful professional career. Grade: A+

Rick Gehman is joined by Greg DuCharme and Sia Nejad to offer up a first look at the 2021 British Open at Royal St. George’s. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Here at the rest of our grades for the 2021 John Deere Classic.

Ryan Moore (T2): Sunday was a big day for Moore even though he did not win the tournament. With a final-round 68 and tie for second with Kevin Na, he snagged the final spot in next week’s Open Championship (coincidentally, Na recently withdrew from the final major of the year). For Moore, it’s his first major since the 2019 PGA Championship (MC) and his first Open since 2018 when he finished T12 at Carnoustie. Moore is plenty accomplished over the course of his career, but at this stage – with just one major played since 2018 – getting an Open invite (especially considering his record at Opens historically) is a big deal. However, with a family trip planned next week, it sounds like Moore is probably going to turn down the spot at Royal St. George’s.

“I need to go talk to my wife about that, but she’s going to tell me to go,” Moore said. “We’ve had a family trip planned for next week basically for the last few months, and at this point in time in my career I’ve played a lot of golf tournaments. I don’t want to bail on a trip like that. It was good to see my body feel good and feel good throughout the entire week, but flying on a plane for 10 hours, a lot cooler weather, it’s unpredictable how I might feel. So I might have to weigh those things and figure it out with her, but I would say at this point I’m going to commit to going with my family.” Grade: A

Daniel Berger (T34): Berger was the favorite this week, but he did not quite have his best stuff, especially off the tee. On a week when several of the heaviest hitters in the game were scattered all over the leaderboard, Berger lost strokes off the tee on the week. It wasn’t a terrible performance, and he’ll take some nice form into next week’s Open Championship with four top 20s in his last six starts, but Berger surely expected more as the best player in a weaker field. Grade: B-

Steve Stricker (T41): The 27-time champion of this event (approximately) really got it going as he was 11 under through nine holes on Saturday in Round 3. Unfortunately he played the next 27 in 2 over to finish just outside the top 40 on the week. Still, as one of the unofficial hosts here, it’s always a good week for Stricker, even more so when he gets to sniff contention on the weekend. Grade: B+

“I had it really going yesterday, and then the rain came and I just stalled big time,” Stricker said. “Came out today, hit it fine, just never really scored very well in those tougher conditions this morning when it was raining. Got behind the 8-ball, but I hit it nicely all week. At times just trouble getting it into the hole. … An enjoyable week. Always fun to come here and play, and to be here at TPC Deere Run and the John Deere Classic is pretty special for me every year.”

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