Cameron Davis earned his first PGA Tour victory on the fifth playoff hole to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic at a price of 125-1. Unfortunately for this column, Davis' first tour victory came at the expense of Troy Merritt and Joaquin Niemann, who were tipped here last week at 100-1 and 27-1, respectively. Niemann, at one point trading at -400 toward the end of the final round, bowed out on the first playoff hole, carding a bogey after going bogey-free for 72 holes. Merritt ranked second in the field for SG: Putting but missed a five-foot par on the final playoff hole to give Davis the victory. Davis, for his part, made a 50-foot bunker shot for eagle on 17, then birdied the 18th to get into the playoff. The Australian, now ranked No. 67, is currently the first alternate for the British Open based on the OWGR, so Davis (28-1 this week) is going to attempt to go back-to-back and win the John Deere Classic to earn his spot at Royal St George's the old-fashioned way.
The John Deere Classic is back in its customary spot before the British Open after having been canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Although there are some big names who are past champions here (Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Steve Stricker), it is typically one of the weaker fields on the PGA Tour schedule due to many players heading across the pond to prepare for the British Open. However, that also provides huge opportunities for players looking to earn a PGA Tour win and rise in the FedEx Cup standings.
Daniel Berger (10-1), off a tie for seventh at the U.S. Open three weeks ago, is the tournament favorite and has competed in this event a couple of times, including a fifth in 2017. Brian Harman (14-1) is a regular visitor to the John Deere Classic and garnered his first PGA Tour victory here in 2014. Sungjae Im (16-1) earned his first top-10 since the Honda Classic in March last week in Detroit. Unlike nearly all his competitors, Im is not preparing for the British Open because he withdrew last week to prepare for the upcoming Olympics. As a native of South Korea, the 23-year-old Im, like all able-bodied males of ages 18 to 28, is required to complete a two-year military obligation unless he manages to earn a medal in the Olympics. Si Woo Kim (33-1), a 26-year-old from South Korea, finds himself in the same position as Im. Russell Henley (18-1) was runner-up at the last John Deere Classic in 2019. Like Henley, Kevin Streelman (22-1) was a contender for most of the weekend at the U.S. Open three weeks ago. Alex Noren and Seamus Power (both 33-1) earned top-10 finishes (Noren T-4, Power T-8) last week in Detroit. Kevin Na (40-1), like Berger, Im, Harman and Kim, is one of just five OWGR Top 50 players in the field this week.
The John Deere Classic's history dates to 1971 when it was established as the Quad Cities Open. It began as a satellite event and became a full-time PGA Tour event the following year. Longtime host and late-night sidekick Ed McMahon served as the event's host from 1975 to 1979. Numerous Midwest-based companies, including Miller Brewing Company and Hardee's, sponsored the event before John Deere took over in 1999. The event has moved all around the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa before settling in at TPC Deere Run, located in Silvis, Ill., in 2000.
In 2014, the Open Qualifying Series was introduced to provide opportunities for non-qualified players to gain entry for the British Open. The John Deere Classic is the last chance for a player to earn a spot. Since 2008, the tournament has sponsored a charter flight that leaves the Quad Cities on Sunday night and arrives in the United Kingdom the next morning for either the event winner or the highest-finishing player not qualified.
TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., opened in 2000. The track was designed by five-time PGA Tour winner D.A. Weibring, who is from Quincy, Ill., and won this event three times (1979, 1991, 1995). The course plays as a par-71 of 7,258 yards and typically it does not give players too much difficulty. In other words, this is a birdie-fest type of event. The course record of 59 was set by Paul Goydos in the first round of the 2010 John Deere Classic. There are 78 bunkers on the layout and three water hazards in play over five holes.
The Seashore Bentgrass fairways are wide and generous. The L-93 Bentgrass greens average a little less than 6,000 square feet, are very receptive and roll at around 11.5 on the stimpmeter.
2019: Dylan Frittelli (-21/263), 90/1
2018: Michael Kim (-27/257), 300/1*
2017: Bryson DeChambeau (-18/266), 50/1
2016: Ryan Moore (-22/262), 25/1
2015: Jordan Spieth (-20/264), 4/1**
2014: Brian Harman (-22/262), 125/1
2013: Jordan Spieth (-19/265), 40/1***
2012: Zach Johnson (-20/264), 12/1 ****
2011: Steve Stricker (-22/262), 7/1
2010: Steve Stricker (-26/258), 16/1
* tournament scoring record
** playoff win over Tom Gillis
*** playoff win over David Hearn and Zach Johnson
**** playoff win over Troy Matteson
TRENDS AND ANGLES
* Five of last nine champs were first-time winners.
* 10 of the last 11 champs played at least one previous John Deere Classic.
* Seven of the last 11 champs finished 19th or higher in a previous John Deere Classic.
* Nine of the last 11 champs had at least one top-5 finish earlier in the season.
TPC Deere Run is a short and wide course. Both bombers and plotters have had success here. However, in a birdie fest, being precise with the irons is a must.
Strokes Gained Approach
1. Daniel Berger 26
2. Russell Henley 21.1
3. Kyle Stanley 19.7
4. Kevin Streelman 16.9
5. Matthew NeSmith 16.8
6. Seamus Power 15
7. Martin Laird 13.3
8. Cameron Percy 13.3
9. Doug Ghim 13.2
10. Doc Redman 12.6
11. Henrik Norlander 10.9
12. Jason Dufner 10.7
Note: Last 24 rounds
12 of 18 holes at TPC Deere Run typically average under par, so players must take advantage of every scoring opportunity.
1. Kevin Streelman 21.8
2. Patton Kizzire 20.5
3. Kyle Stanley 17.7
4. Doug Ghim 17
5. Jhonattan Vegas 16.3
6. Daniel Berger 15.7
7. Jason Dufner 15.1
8. Chez Reavie 14.6
9. Adam Schenk 14.6
10. Tory Merritt 13.9
11. Ryan Armour 11.4
12. Cameron Percy 11
Note: Last 24 rounds
There are five par-4s ranging from 400 to 450 yards on the TPC Deere Run layout.
SG: Par-4s 400-450 Yards
1. Kramer Hickok 15.5
2. Hank Lebioda 14.2
3. Zach Johnson 12.5
4. Harold Varner III 10.2
5. Vincent Whaley 10
6. C.T. Pan 9.8
7. Brian Harman 9.4
8. Brian Stuard 8.3
9. Kevin Streelman 8.2
10. Patton Kizzire 6.3
11. Danny Lee 6.2
12. Scott Stallings 6
Note: Last 24 rounds
On a shorter course, players will have a multitude of wedges into the greens.
Proximity Gained 125-150 Yards
1. Nick Taylor 13.4
2. Kyle Stanley 10
3. K.J. Choi 9.6
4. Russell Henley 9.4
5. Ben Martin 9.2
6. Kevin Stadler 9.1
7. Doc Redman 8.1
8. Richy Werenski 7.6
9. Chez Reavie 7.5
10. Jason Bohn 7
11. Scott Brown 6.8
12. Martin Laird 6.7
Note: Last 24 rounds; feet per shot
Proximity Gained 150-175 Yards
1. Daniel Berger 21.6
2. K.J. Choi 13.5
3. Michael Kim 12.5
4. Sung Kang 11.4
5. Tyler Duncan 10.9
6. C.T. Pan 10.3
7. Hank Lebioda 9.8
8. Lucas Glover 9.8
9. Denny McCarthy 9.7
10. Russell Henley 9.4
11. Aaron Wise 9.1
12. Ted Potter Jr 8.7
Note: Last 24 rounds; feet per shot
The last three John Deere Classic champions have either rated first or second for SG: Putting during their winning weeks.
SG: Putting (Bentgrass)
1. Zach Johnson 23.2
2. Kristoffer Ventura 22.3
3. Andres Romero 20
4. Charles Howell III 18.7
5. Johnson Wagner 18.7
6. Aaron Baddeley 18.6
7. Patton Kizzire 17.3
8. Brian Harman 17.1
9. Troy Merritt 15.7
10. Andrew Putnam 13.7
11. Sepp Straka 13.7
12. Pat Perez 13.4
Note: Last 24 rounds
Alex Noren 33-1
Noren finished T-4 last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and held the clubhouse lead for a while on Sunday.
The Swede seems to be getting his confidence back as he looks for his first main tour win since the French Open in June 2018. Noren also likes the Bentgrass greens as all 10 of his European Tour victories have come on this putting surface.
Patton Kizzire 50-1
Kizzire's 64 in the final round last Sunday matched Noren and Bubba Watson for the low round of the day.
He has four top-10s this season in 17 events and is always at his best in low-scoring events when a multitude of birdies are required. Kizzire ranks second in this field (behind tournament favorite Daniel Berger) for birdie average.
Steve Stricker 50-1
No player is "Mr. John Deere Classic" more than Steve Stricker. He has won the event three times (2009, 2010, 2011).
Stricker elected to play here in lieu of defending his 2019 title at the U.S. Senior Open. He also comes in with a victory in his last start at the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago.
Doc Redman 55-1
Redman was highly popular last week in an event in which he finished second on debut in 2019. So of course, he misses the cut. This looks like a good spot to buy on the drift, though.
His strength is typically off the tee, but his irons have been good recently as he ranks in the top 10 in this week's field for both SG: Approach and Proximity Gained from 125 to 150 yards.
Kyle Stanley 60-1
Stanley's short game always holds him back, and recent form (108th in this field for SG: Putting last 24 rounds) indicates not much has changed. However, he has had success here in the past with a runner-up to Stricker in 2011.
Everything else in his game looks on point as he ranks third in this week's field for SG: Approach, third for SG: Ball Striking, fourth for SG: Tee-To-Green, 10th for SG: Total and 15th for SG: Off-The-Tee.
Jhonattan Vegas 66-1
Vegas is another player at his best when the scores are low as evidenced by his previous PGA Tour wins at the Canadian Open and Bob Hope Classic (now known as the American Express).
The Venezuelan ranks 1st in this week's field for SG: Off-The-Tee, and 2nd for both SG: Tee-To-Green and SG: Ball Striking. Like with Stanley, the putter is his weakness, but he has had good finishes here, highlighted by a third in 2014.
Beau Hossler 80-1
Hossler has three straight top-25 finishes, highlighted by a top-10 at the Travelers two weeks ago. He sits 144th in the FedEx Cup standings and has only a couple more events to get into the top 125 to keep his tour card and make the playoffs.
Australian Lucas Herbert, at a price of 33-1, picked up his first victory in 2021 and his second career European Tour victory at the Irish Open last weekend. Herbert gained + 4.09 strokes putting and holed 115 feet of putts in his final round. Herbert's win also locked him into the British Open at Royal St George’s in two weeks, along with Sweden's Rikard Karlberg and American expatriate Johannes Veerman. Those three players earned those spots as the highest three Irish Open finishers who were not already exempt or qualified. The victory in Ireland moves Herbert to OWGR No. 55 and he will also be a participant in this week's Scottish Open, which bolsters the best field in the event's history as a precursor to the British Open.
Four of the top-five ranked players in the world (Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, and Xander Schauffele) will play this week in Scotland the week before the year's final major. World No. 1 Rahm (8-1) makes his first appearance since winning his first major at the U.S. Open three weeks ago. Schauffele (12-1) was in the mix on Sunday at yet another major championship but had to settle for a T-7 finish three weeks ago. Morikawa (14-1) finished T-4 at that U.S. Open and has finished eighth or better in four of his last five events dating to the RBC Heritage. Thomas (18-1) finished ninth in this event on debut at Renaissance but is still trying to figure out his short game. Rory McIlroy (14-1) returned home to Ireland last week but never was a factor and finished 59th. Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton (22-1), Matthew Fitzpatrick (25-1) and Tommy Fleetwood (33-1), a runner-up in a playoff here last year, follow in the market. Scottie Scheffler (28-1) makes his first professional appearance on European soil this week. Englishman Aaron Rai (90-1) is the defending event champion having triumphed in a playoff over Fleetwood in an event that was pushed into the fall portion of the calendar due to COVID-19.
The Scottish Open is one of the European Tour signature events as part of the Rolex Series. The event moves back to its customary date the week before the British Open. U.K.-based global investment company Aberdeen Asset Management, based in Edinburgh and recently rebranded as abrdn, has served as the title sponsor of this event since 2012. The Scottish Open has been held as an annual event on the European Tour since 1986 and has rotated around many of the great courses. Previous winners of the event include names such as Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Ian Woosnam, Justin Rose, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Retief Goosen and Tom Lehman.
Four of the top five, six of the top 11 and 10 of the Top 30 OWGR players are in this week's field. In 2011, the event was permanently moved to an exclusively links course rotation since many European players were seemingly put at a competitive disadvantage playing in the event while American counterparts were preparing for the British Open on links courses.
Aside from the prestige of winning this event and the competitive preparation of playing in a links event the week preceding the British Open, like last week, the top three finishers here (that are not already qualified) earn spots into next week's major.
The Renaissance Golf Club will play host for the third year in a row. The course is in Dirleton, North Berwick, Scotland, which is located about 20 miles east of capital city Edinburgh. Renaissance was designed in 2008 by American Tom Doak and the course is located next to Muirfield, which is a regular track on the British Open rotation. It is a modern links course that is going to play at 7,293 yards for the par-71 and has four par-5s and five par-3s.
Despite sitting on Scotland’s “Golf Coast” in the stretch of land between Muirfield and Archerfield Links, the Renaissance Club isn’t a historic links track, instead it was manufactured from an old pine forest and is considered by purists to be more of a links-like track than a pure, classic links.
Last year played a bit tougher due to windy and wet weather conditions. Rain is expected all four days this week.
The fairways are firm and fast, and the greens are fescue-based, like those used at Castle Stuart in this event in the recent past, as well as at Royal Birkdale for the 2017 British Open.
2020: Aaron Rai (-11/273), Renaissance, 50/1*
2019: Bernd Wiesberger (-22/262), Renaissance, 40/1**
2018: Brandon Stone (-20/260), Gullane, 400/1
2017: Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-13/275), Dundonald 50/1***
2016: Alex Noren (-14/274), Castle Stuart, 50/1
2015: Rickie Fowler (-12/268), Gullane, 22/1
2014: Justin Rose (-16/268), Royal Aberdeen, 14/1
2013: Phil Mickelson (-17/261), Castle Stuart, 22/1****
2012: Jeev Milkha Singh (-17/261), Castle Stuart, 100/1*****
2011: Luke Donald (-19/197), Castle Stuart, 10/1******
2010: Edoardo Molinari (-12/272), Loch Lomond, 70/1
* playoff win over Tommy Fleetwood; event held in October
** playoff win over Benjamin Hebert
*** playoff win over Callum Shinkwin
**** playoff win over Branden Grace
***** playoff win over Francesco Molinari
****** weather shortened event to 54 holes
TRENDS AND ANGLES
Over the last 11 years, each Scottish Open winner had at least one top-10 finish in his four starts before the event, except for Brandon Stone in 2018.
Tyrrell Hatton 22-1
Hatton has solid enough recent form with a runner-up in the Palmetto Championship four weeks ago.
He was 14th in the 2019 tournament at Renaissance and has an excellent record in Scotland, twice winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as well as being a runner-up in that event and the Scottish Open. Also recording two top-sixes in the British Open.
Branden Grace 42-1
The South African nabbed a winner for us at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this season. Grace was also fourth at the Memorial and seventh at the U.S. Open over the last several weeks.
Grace is also another proven player in Scotland. He won the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2012, as well as finishing second in the Scottish Open in 2013.
Guido Migliozzi 58-1
The young Italian made quite the showing at Torrey Pines and finished T-4 to earn a spot in the 2022 U.S. Open. He also stayed stateside for a respectable T-13 at the Travelers.
Before those two finishes, Migliozzi posted back-to-back runners-up in the British Masters at the Belfry and in Denmark, so he does not seem all that far away from gaining a third European Tour title.
Martin Kaymer 66-1
Kaymer is one of the players that needs a good finish here to gain a spot in next week's British Open.
He was runner-up two weeks ago in Germany at the BMW International Open.
Ian Poulter 68-1
Poulter has a 14th and a sixth the last two years at Renaissance.
He has also shown a tendency to give peak performances the week before a major championship. Over the course of his career, Poulter has 17 top-10 or better finishes the week before a major.
Thomas Pieters 72-1
Pieters has had a lot of stops and starts in his 2021 schedule, so has yet to find a rhythm.
However, he has played the last two weeks and seems to be heading back in the right direction with a T-12 last week in Ireland, where he led the field for SG: Off-The-Tee.
Jason Scrivener 105-1
Scrivener was first for SG: Tee-To-Green and second in SG: Approach last week at the Irish Open on the way to a T-9 and has finished inside the top 10 in three of his last four starts.
U.S. Senior Open
The U.S. Senior Open is back after being canceled last year because of COVID-19. A new champion will be crowned because defending champ Steve Stricker is playing in the John Deere Classic instead of defending his title.
Tournament favorite Jim Furyk (6-1) made his PGA Tour Champions debut last year but still seeks his first major championship victory on the over-50 circuit. Jerry Kelly (9-1) finished second to Stricker at the last major and has also shared the runner-up position at the last two U.S. Senior Opens. Retief Goosen (12-1) finished T-3 last weekend at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open and Fred Couples (12-1) was T-3 two weeks ago at the Bridgestone. Ernie Els (14-1) had the overnight lead going into Sunday's final round but settled for second and has two top-5s in the last two weeks. At 16-1 are 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion Bernhard Langer, Kevin Sutherland and Alex Cejka, who has won two majors already in his rookie season on PGA Tour Champions, are priced at 16-1.
The U.S. Senior Open is one of the five major championships in senior golf, introduced in 1980. It is administered by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and is recognized as a major championship by both the PGA Tour Champions and the European Senior Tour.
The eligibility for partaking in the U.S. Senior Open is as follows:
Any past winner of the U.S. Senior Open
Winners of any of the major championships in the last 10 years
Winners of any of the U.S. Amateur in the last 10 years and runner-up in previous year
Winners of the Senior PGA Championship in the last 10 years
Winner of the Senior British Open in the last four years
Top 15 finishers from the previous year's U.S. Senior Open
Any amateur completing 72 holes in last U.S. Open
Low amateur in last U.S. Senior Open
Winner and runner-up of the U.S. Senior Amateur in the previous year
Members of the Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy teams for the last two competitions
Members of both Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams for the last five competitions
Top 30 from the previous year's PGA Tour Champions money list, top 20 from current list
Top 50 leaders from the PGA Tour Champions career money list
Winners of PGA Tour Champions events in the previous three years
Top six from previous year's European Senior Tour money list
Top two from previous year's Japan Seniors Tour money list
Winners of PGA Tour events in the previous five years
Winners of the U.S. Open in first ten years of age eligibility
One-time exemption for any winner of a major championship, U.S. Amateur or British Amateur.
Winners of amateur championships who have since turned professional can use this exemption.
Omaha Country Club in Omaha, Neb., will play host to the U.S. Senior Open as it did in 2013. Omaha Country Club was originally established in 1927 by Langford and Moreau. In 1951, nationally acclaimed architect Perry Maxwell was retained to breathe new life into the time-honored course. Keith Foster was commissioned in 2005 to restore the golf course’s traditional appearance and character. Enhancements to the course were completed in October of 2006 and the course was reopened in June of 2007. Another renovation was conducted by Foster in 2018.
Omaha CC is a tree-lined parklands design that plays as a par-70 of 6,891 yards. The layout features 68 bunkers and one water hazard that is in play over six holes. The smallish (4,700 square feet) and fast greens were re-grassed to Pure Distinction bentgrass as part of the 2018 renovation. The fairways are average in terms of width and made of T1 Alpha bentgrass and the rough is Turf Type tall fescue.
2019: Steve Stricker (-19/261); Warren Golf Course, University of Notre Dame
2018: David Toms (-3/277); Broadmoor GC
2017: Kenny Perry (-16/264); Salem CC
2016: Gene Sauers (-3/277); Scioto CC
2015: Jeff Maggert (-10/270); Del Paso CC
2014: Colin Montgomerie (-5/279); Oak Tree National
2013: Kenny Perry (-13/267); Omaha CC
2012: Roger Chapman (-10/270); Indianwood G&CC
2011: Olin Browne (-15/269); Inverness Club
2010: Bernhard Langer (-8/272); Sahalee CC
Ernie Els 14-1
"The Big Easy" let victory slip away Sunday at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, but he has finished in the top 5 in three of four majors on PGA Tour Champions and looks like he should be able to turn the page this week.
Els ranks second on PGA Tour Champions for both Greens In Regulation and Driving Distance. The two-time U.S. Open champion may be able to overpower this track with long driving and accurate plotting.
Alex Cejka 16-1
Cejka has not been beaten by anyone yet in a major this season. He won the Regions Tradition in a playoff against Steve Stricker and then also won the Senior PGA Championship.
The German did not play in the Bridgestone Senior Players as he was playing the European Tour, but he’s back in a major this week. He finished T-11 in his return to PGA Tour Champions last weekend.
Paul Goydos 50-1
Goydos has finished in the top 6 in three of the last four U.S. Senior Opens.
He also finished T-3 last week in Endicott and this week's shorter course in Omaha should suit him.