PGA Tour best bets: John Deere Classic

June 28, 2022 07:07 PM
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Xander Schauffele, the ​2021 Olympic champion, won his first official PGA Tour event in more than three years (2019 Tournament of Champions) last week at the Travelers Championship. Schauffele, priced as high as 20-1 prior to Justin Thomas’ withdrawal (back injury), jumped out to a five-stroke lead after 36 holes, shooting a pair of 7-under 63s on Thursday and Friday. He eventually lost the lead on Sunday to 150-1 shot Sahith Theegala before Theegala’s double bogey on the 72nd hole paved the way for Schauffele. Patrick Cantlay, who was in the final pairing with Schauffele, shot a 6-over 76 on Sunday to fall to 13th. 

This week, the PGA Tour returns to the Quad Cities for the John Deere Classic. Daniel Berger was the only OWGR Top 50 player in the field before he withdrew Monday morning with an injury. The field depth is down due to the tournament being moved up in the schedule as next week's Scottish Open is now a co-sanctioned PGA Tour and DP World Tour event. Many players are either taking the week off, traveling overseas to start preparation for The Open Championship or playing in this week's LIV Golf event in Portland. Plus, 14 of the OWGR Top 20, and others including Tiger Woods, are scheduled to play in Ireland for the J.P. McManus Pro-Am on Monday and Tuesday. Therefore, it’s a wide-open field with no clear-cut favorite at the John Deere. 

Webb Simpson (12-1), off his best finish of 2022 with a 13th in Hartford, assumes the favorite’s role. Adam Hadwin (16-1) contended at the U.S. Open two weeks ago before finishing seventh. Theegala (22-1) will attempt to recover from last week's near miss at the Travelers. Denny McCarthy (25-1) missed the cut last week but finished seventh at the U.S. Open and fifth at the Memorial in his two prior starts. Patrick Rodgers finished runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau here in 2017 and is one of a cavalcade of players priced at or around the 30-1 range, including Brendon Todd, Charles Howell III, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Maverick McNealy, Scott Stallings and Jason Day. 

Defending champion Lucas Glover (50-1) ended a 10-year winless drought with a victory here last year. Other recent John Deere champions over the last decade include Dylan Frittelli (80-1), Zach Johnson (100-1) and Ryan Moore (100-1).

The Event 

The John Deere Classic 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 1975-1979. The event has moved all around the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa before settling at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, in 2000. 

As part of the Open Qualifying Series, three spots in The Open Championship are up for grabs. The top three finishers who are not already qualified to play at St. Andrews and who place in the Top 10 will earn a spot in the year’s final major championship. 

D.A. Weibring, who designed TPC Deere Run, is a three-time winner of this tournament as is Steve Stricker (2009, 2010, 2011). Two-time winners here include former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman (1971, 1972), Scott Hoch (1980, 1984), David Frost (1992, 1993) and Jordan Spieth (2013, 2015). 

The Course 

Members of the John Deere family donated the land on which TPC Deere Run was built. The course plays as a Par 71 of 7,289 yards and typically it does not give players much trouble. In other words, it’s a birdie-fest. The course record of 59 was set here by Paul Goydos in 2010. 

Deere Run has 76 bunkers and three dangerous water hazards. The course underwent a comprehensive bunker renovation and competitive enhancement project last year. Bunkers were completely rebuilt with new grass surrounds, drainage, liners and sand, which also included reducing overall square footage by 30% and repositioning to increase strategy.

The Seashore Bentgrass fairways are wide (39 yards on average, eighth widest on tour) and generous. The L-93 Bentgrass greens average 5,500 square feet, are very receptive and roll at around 12 on the stimpmeter. However, the Kentucky Bluegrass and fescue rough is around 4 inches and will punish players when they miss fairways.

The course has three Par 5s, four Par 3s and 11 Par 4s. The Par 3s are longer and tougher to score on. Eight of the Par 4s are less than 445 yards. All three of the Par 5s are between 550 and 600 yards and should be reachable in two shots for most players.

Although not a difficult course to score on, Deere Run forces players to use the entire bag with sloping fairways, elevation changes and tight doglegs. Over the past five events, the John Deere Classic has averaged 1.39 shots under par per round, and Deere Run is the 10th-easiest course on tour over the past two years.

If looking for correlated courses, think TPC River Highlands, Detroit Golf Club, TPC Twin Cities TPC Craig Ranch, TPC Boston and Keene Trace. 

Recent Winners 

2021: Lucas Glover (-19/265); 55-1

2020: Tournament canceled (COVID-19)

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

— 5 of the last 8 champions were first-time PGA Tour winners

— 11 of the last 12 champions played in at least one previous John Deere Classic

— 8 of the last 12 champions finished 19th or better in a previous John Deere Classic

— 10 of the last 12 champions had at least one Top 5 finish earlier in the season

Statistical Analysis​

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 36 Rounds)

Strokes Gained: Approach has not always been an obvious indicator of success at the John Deere Classic. However, Glover ranked third in the category last year during his victory. The greens at TPC Deere Run are long and narrow, so players must place a premium on accuracy and distance control, especially from 125-150 yards.

1. Vaughn Taylor 20.4

2. Nick Taylor 17.9

3. Scott Stallings 17.1

4. David Lipsky 16.8

5. Ryan Moore 16.7

6. Austin Smotherman 16.5

7. Webb Simpson 16.2

8. Cameron Percy 15.2

9. J.J. Spaun 14.3

10. Wesley Bryan 14.1

11. Lanto Griffin 13.9

12. Lucas Glover 13.8

13. Martin Laird 13.7

Proximity Gained 125-150 Yards (Last 36 Rounds)

1. Max McGreevy 11.4

2. Matthias Schwab 8.4

3. Lucas Glover 8.1

4. Doc Redman 7.2

5. Mark Hubbard 6.4

6. Dylan Frittelli 6.4

7. Jason Dufner 5.9

8. Adam Schenk 5.6

9. Sam Ryder 5.4

10. Scott Stallings 5.3

11. Andrew Novak 5

Average feet gained per shot 

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 400-450 Yards (Last 36 Rounds)

Six of the 12 Par 4s measure between 400-450 yards.

1. J.T. Poston 18.8

2. Chase Seiffert 16.4

3. Ryan Armour 15.2

4. Aaron Baddeley 14.3

5. Adam Long 13.3

6. Adam Svensson 11.9

7. Brice Garnett 11.4

8. Callum Tarren 11.2

9. Lanto Griffin 10.6

10. Charles Howell III 10.3

11. Sean O'Hair 10.2

12. Kevin Streelman 10

Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (Last 36 Rounds)

Gaining strokes around the green is arguably the toughest test at TPC Deere Run, mainly due to the tightly mowed collection areas. Many of the greens are elevated, which causes misses to roll down shaved slopes to runoff areas below the greens. Also, the greenside bunkers are deep and the rough is thick.

1. Rory Sabbatini 18.8

2. Matthias Schwab 17.9

3. Adam Hadwin 17.5

4. William McGirt 16.8

5. Jonathan Byrd 14.5

6. Jason Day 13.5

7. Stephan Jaeger 12.6

8. Charles Howell III 12

9. Andrew Putnam 10.3

10. Peter Malnati 10

Birdie or Better Gained (Last 36 Rounds)

It remains to be seen whether the renovations will toughen up the course, but the bottom line is players must make a lot of birdies to win here. In nine of the last 12 editions of the John Deere, the winning score has been 20-under par or better. 

1. Adam Hadwin 16.1

2. Charles Howell III 14.6

3. Nate Lashley 14.4

4. Maverick McNealy 13.7

5. Vincent Whaley 13.2

6. Chad Ramey 12.4

7. Jim Knous 11.4

8. Callum Tarren 10.7

9. David Lipsky 9.8

10. John Huh 8.8

11. Scott Stallings 8.7

12. Jason Day 8.6

13. C.T. Pan 8.5

14. Nick Hardy 8.5

Good Drives Gained (Last 36 Rounds)

TPC Deere Run is among the 10 easiest courses on tour to gain strokes off the tee, and driving accuracy averages more than 70% here. However, missing the fairway does come with 4-inch rough. Good Drives Gained measures drives where the player either hits the fairway off the tee or the player misses the fairway but still hits the green or fringe in regulation.

1. Martin Laird 46.4

2. Adam Long 33.2

3. J.J. Spaun 32.2

4. Nate Lashley 30.5

5. Ryan Armour 28.6

6. Adam Schenk 25.3

7. Brendon Todd 24.4

8. Kevin Streelman 23.8

9. Alex Smalley 23.1

10. Brian Stuard 22.9

11. David Lipsky 22.7

12. Lucas Glover 21.3

13. Chez Reavie 20.8

14. Doug Ghim 20.6

Strokes Gained: Par 5s 550-600 Yards (Last 36 Rounds)

All three Par 5s measure between 550 and 600 yards.

1. Robert Streb 7.9

2. Webb Simpson 7.6

3. Brandon Wu 6.7

4. Martin Laird 6.5

5. Maverick McNealy 5.9

6. Adam Hadwin 5.9

7. Cameron Champ 5.8

8. Patrick Rodgers 5.4

9. Adam Schenk 5.3

10. John Huh 5.3

11. Cameron Davis 5.3

12. Trey Mullinax 5.2

13. Dylan Frittelli 5

Strokes Gained: Bentgrass Putting (Last 36 Rounds)

Although gaining strokes around the green can prove difficult, the greens are not too complex and this tournament can often turn into a putting contest. 

1. Brendon Todd 26.2

2. Zach Johnson 26.2

3. Brandt Snedeker 22.8

4. Austin Cook 19.8

5. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 18.2

6. Jim Knous 17.6

7. Patrick Rodgers 17.6

8. Charles Howell III 17.5

9. Lanto Griffin 16.8

10. Cameron Davis 16.3

11. Scott Stallings 16.1

12. Hank Lebioda 14.3

13. Webb Simpson 14.2

14. Denny McCarthy 14.1

Selections

Patrick Rodgers (35-1 Circa Sports)

Rodgers made his first career cut on the PGA Tour here in 2013 and finished runner-up in 2017, so this is obviously an event that has special meaning for him. He withdrew last week before the Travelers, gearing more toward this event, after playing four straight weeks that included a Top 20 in Canada and his best major finish at the U.S. Open (31st). Rodgers gained almost 10 strokes combined with the putter at the Canadian Open and the U.S. Open. 

J.T. Poston (55-1 DraftKings)

Poston put up his third Top 10 in eight starts last week at the Travelers, finishing runner-up to Schauffele after a superb final-round 64. He was second in the field on approach and 13th in putting last week.

Adam Schenk (60-1 DraftKings)

Schenk was fourth here in 2021 and sixth in 2019. He missed the cut last week at the Travelers but finished 26th at the Memorial and 24th at the U.S. Open. As evidenced by previous winners and contenders here, course form seems to matter more than in other weeks. 

Adam Svensson (65-1 DraftKings)

Svensson has made five straight cuts including consecutive Top 25s at the Canadian Open and the Travelers. In his only outing here in 2019, he finished 18th by shooting 65-68-68 over the final three rounds.

Nate Lashley (80-1 BetMGM)

It’s been a mixed bag this year for Lashley. He has missed seven of 16 cuts but finished seventh in Puerto Rico and has Top 20s in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Byron Nelson and the Texas Open. He also has Top 30s at the Travelers, Valspar and Pebble Beach. 

David Lipsky (80-1 DraftKings)

Lipsky missed the cut last week at the Travelers. He gained 1.1 strokes off the tee and 1.9 strokes on approach (fourth in this field for SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds) but lost a combined four strokes in short game and putting. He has finishes of 14th at the American Express, 24th at Pebble Beach, seventh in the Dominican Republic, sixth in Mexico and 25th at the Byron Nelson. 

Matt Wallace (130-1 DraftKings)

Wallace had missed eight of nine cuts on the PGA Tour from February to May. He returned to Europe for a couple of DP World Tour events and finished fifth at the Dutch Open and 18th at the Porsche European Open. A return to Europe seemed to be what the doctor ordered as he then made the cut in Canada and at the Travelers. Wallace was inside the OWGR Top 25 as recently as three years ago. He currently sits 143rd in the FedEx Cup standings and a high finish here would put him in great position to keep his PGA Tour card. 

Horizon Irish Open

Haotong Li broke a four-year winless drought by prevailing in a playoff over Thomas Pieters to win the BMW International Open and cash a 70-1 ticket for this column last week. The runner-up finish for Pieters gave us a 1-2 finish. 

Li will not be in the field this week at the Horizon Irish Open, as two Irishmen headline at Mount Juliet. Shane Lowry (9-1) won this event as an amateur in 2009, and Seamus Power (14-1) makes his first start in Europe since the 2019 Irish Open. Power is in Europe this year because he’ll be playing in The Open Championship for the first time. Pieters (18-1) will attempt to rebound from his playoff loss in Munich last week. Tyrrell Hatton (18-1) is seeking the form he showed in the early part of the year. Ryan Fox (22-1) is having a career year with a victory (Ras al Khaimah Classic), two runners-up and a third last week. At No. 56 in the world, Fox is trying to break into the OWGR Top 50 for the first time in his career. 

Jordan Smith (25-1) was in third place entering the final round last week but never got going on Sunday and finished eighth. Two-time DP World Tour winner Aaron Rai (30-1) has spent 2022 on the PGA Tour and makes first DP World Tour start of the year in an event where he finished second in 2020. Last year's Irish Open champion Lucas Herbert (35-1) has also spent most of 2022 on the PGA Tour. 

The Irish Open dates to 1927 and rotates to different courses throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. Past winners include Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia, Bernhard Langer and Nick Faldo. Like the John Deere Classic, three Open Championship spots are available for those that finish in the Top 10 and are not already exempt. 

The Course 

The Mount Juliet estate hosts the Irish Open for the second consecutive year. The course hosted this event from 1993-1995 with Faldo, Langer and Sam Torrance earning victories. It also hosted the 2002 and 2004 WGC-American Express Championships, won by Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. 

Mount Juliet is a Par 72 of 7,264 yards designed by Jack Nicklaus and Ron Kirby in 1991. Located in the county of Kilkenny, Mount Juliet is a tree-lined, parklands design with generous fairways and Bentgrass greens that can reach 12 on the stimpmeter. Water is in play on half of the holes.

Recent Winners

2021: Lucas Herbert (-19/269); Mount Juliet; 33-1

2020: John Catlin (-10/270); Galgorm Castle; 40-1

2019: Jon Rahm (-16/264); Lahinch;  8-1

2018: Russell Knox (-14/274); Ballyliffin; 28-1*

2017: Jon Rahm (-24/264); Portstewart; 14-1

2016: Rory McIlroy (-12/276); The K Club; 4-1

2015: Soren Kjeldsen (-2/282); Royal County Down 150-1**

2014: Mikko Ilonen (-13/271); Fota Island; 80-1

2013: Paul Casey (14/274); Carton House; 50-1

2012: Jamie Donaldson (-18/270); Royal Portrush; 66-1

2011: Simon Dyson (-15/269); Killarney; 25-1

2010: Ross Fisher (-18/266); Killarney; 20-1

Playoff win over Ryan Fox*

Playoff win over Eddie Pepperell and Bernd Wiesberger**

Trends and Angles

— 9 of the last 10 Irish Open champions had at least one Top 10 within seven lead-up events (Herbert broke the streak last year)

— Prior to Herbert's victory last year, the previous three Irish Open winners (Catlin, Rahm and Knox) had a win or a second in one of their previous two starts

— Both Woods (2002) and Els (2004) ranked first for Scrambling during their winning weeks at Mount Juliet​

Selections​

Aaron Rai (28-1 BetMGM)

In his rookie season on the PGA Tour, Rai is 74th in the FedEx Cup standings with only one Top 10 finish (Pebble Beach) but 12 of 16 made cuts. The two-time DP World Tour winner and former Scottish Open champion returns to the UK for an event in which he finished 12th last year. The drop in class should benefit Rai. 

Min Woo Lee (35-1 Westgate Superbook)

Lee has predominantly played stateside this year after ending 2021 ranked in the OWGR Top 50. Now he returns to the DP World Tour before defending his 2021 Scottish Open title next week. Despite three missed cuts in between a 14th at The Masters and a 27th at the U.S. Open, Lee has started to drive the ball better — off the tee is his bread and butter — gaining strokes in each of his last five starts, including the three missed cuts. In addition, his short game has started to improve as he has gained strokes on and around the greens in four of his last six starts. He has also watched sister Minjee win two of the last five LPGA majors, including this year’s U.S. Women's Open, and finish second last week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Min Woo will certainly be motivated by her success. 

Romain Langasque (40-1 BetMGM)

Langasque was one of our tips last week and finished fifth in Munich. He has five Top 10 finishes in 2022 and ranks 16th for SG: Tee-to-Green on the DP World Tour. 

Jason Scrivener (60-1 DraftKings)

Scrivener finished ninth at Mount Juliet last year and led the field for SG: Tee-to-Green. 

Kurt Kitayama (66-1 BetMGM)

Kitayama was supposed to play this week at the John Deere Classic but withdrew to play at the Irish Open instead. He has cooled off from his runner-up in Mexico and third at the Honda Classic, but I’m trusting his late schedule change for this week. 

Guido Migliozzi (70-1 DraftKings)

Migliozzi started 2022 by missing seven of eight cuts but turned around that slump by making three of four, including a 10th at the Dutch Open and a 14th at the U.S. Open. He has not won since 2019 but has continued to threaten, including three runner-up finishes last year.

​LIV Golf Invitational Portland​

After its debut earlier this month in England, LIV Golf makes its American debut at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside of Portland. Several new names will make their debuts with LIV Golf as Brooks Koepka (14-1), Abraham Ancer (12-1), Bryson DeChambeau (16-1), Patrick Reed (18-1), Pat Perez (30-1), Matthew Wolff (30-1) and Carlos Ortiz (40-1) are the latest defectors from the PGA Tour. 

Dustin Johnson (7-1) has the highest OWGR in the field at No. 17 and is once again the favorite, but this time at a higher price of 7-1 due to some increased depth in the field. Like DJ, Louis Oosthuizen (10-1) finished Top 10 in the inaugural LIV event as did Talor Gooch (12-1). Neither Sergio Garcia nor Kevin Na (both 18-1) were much of a factor. 

The inaugural winner was Charl Schwartzel, who scored an outright victory for this column at 30-1 and comes back at a price of 25-1 along with Sam Horsfield, who finished fifth. South Africans went 1-2-3 in the first event as Schwartzel emerged victorious and Hennie du Plessis (30-1) and Branden Grace (30-1) filled out the rest of the podium. 

Format

The name LIV is a reference to the Roman numeral for 54, the score if every hole on a Par 72 were birdied and the number of holes played at LIV events.

The 54-hole tournaments will have no cut and will feature 48 players drafted into 12 four-man teams, with shotgun starts. The first seven events will have $20 million purses with an additional $5 million split among the top three teams each week. A team championship concludes the schedule with $30 million on offer to the top three players and an additional $50 million in team prizes.

First place at every LIV Golf event will take home $4 million. Last place even gets $120,000.

Prior to the event, 12 captains selected by LIV Golf will pick teams, starting with the captain with the highest OWGR position. After the first round, the draft will continue as a snake draft.

Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club will be played as a composite of both the Witch Hollow and Ghost Creek Golf Courses this week. 

​Selections

Sam Horsfield (27-1 Boyd Sports)

Horsfield won the Soudal Open in Belgium earlier this year and has won three times over the last three years on the DP World Tour. 

Justin Harding (35-1 Westgate Superbook)

The South Africans dominated the first LIV event, so why not another one considering he finished fourth last time out? 

Scott Vincent (60-1 Westgate Superbook)

Vincent already has two victories in 2022, one on the Japan Golf Tour and another on the Asian Tour. He has won four times worldwide in the last two years and has very quietly become an OWGR Top 100 player. 

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Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

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