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John Deere Classic preview

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Alongside the Olympics this week will be the John Deere Classic. Normally played the week before the Open Championship, the event has suffered from schedule changes. Due to where it is in the golfing calendar each year, this event struggles to attract the best fields which is very much the case again this week.

The Course 

TPC Deere Run, 7,268 yards, Par 71. This course is known typically for it’s low scoring and that isn’t about to change. Although it’s a clever course set up there is still plenty of chances to score.

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There are dramatic elevation changes on several of the holes, especially on the par-4 14th, which measures 358 yards. This hole can be driveable if the condition suit.

What will it take to win the John Deere Classic?

To put it simply, this is a course that can be scored on. As a result players will need to make a ton of birdies this week.

Other than that, this is an event that has been won by great putters. Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson have dominated the last seven renewals here. In that time Stricker has three wins, Spieth two and Johnson one. Stopping the run was Brian Harman – who won in 2014.

Steve Stricker won three times in a row between 2009-2011 and his winning scores were -20, -26 and -22.

In fact Spieth’s -19 winning score in 2013 was the worst of the last seven years.

Despite the low winning scores, you don’t get runaway winners. This event has gone to a play-off on three of the last seven occasions. Steve Stricker’s 2009 3-stroke win was the biggest winning margin in this period.

Who are the favourites? 
Zach Johnson (15/2 BetFred) (DraftKings $13,000)

Of course Johnson was going to be the favourite this week, and he will go off at 15/2.

His last seven appearances here read 3-2-2-1-3-21-2. With six top-3 finishes including a win in his last seven, it’s hard to look past him.

Steve Stricker (12/1 General) (DraftKings $11,800)

You can’t mention one without the other. Stricker hasn’t matched Johnson the last two years (35th and 11th) but still loves the course.

Since that last win here in 2011, Stricker has gone 5-10-11-35 so he has hardly slacked either. His 35th finish last year is disappointing but 2015 was a down year for him altogether.

Given that he has two top-4 finishes in his last four starts (including T4 finish at the Open) he should be ready to contend here again.

At 12/1 he is short enough, even here. He is 49 years old and has not won since 2012 so I am happy to leave him out. His record is exceptional but there are too many doubts at that price.

The strength of the field is noticeably poor this year, more so than ever. These two could leave the rest of the field behind, should they play to their potential.

Jon Rahm (16/1 BetVictor) (DraftKings – $11,400)

One player who could spoil the Johnson/Stricker John Deere Party is Spaniard, Jon Rahm. The guy is sensational and it is a matter of when, not if he gets over the line for his first PGA Tour win.

He has the potential in my eyes to be the best player in this field and this week provides a golden opportunity for him to win.

I am not convinced this is the best course for him, so at 16/1 I am happy to pass him up, but I do believe he can win anywhere.

This is the sort of field I expect him to beat based on his potential and showings so far. As a result it will be interesting to see how he will fare this week.

Here are some bets and players I like for my DraftKings roster.

Jerry Kelly 50/1 (BetStars) (DraftKings $9,400)

At 50/1 you are getting a player who finished runner-up last week and has finished inside the top-4 in two of his last three starts here.

His last three efforts around TPC Deere Run read 17-3-4. In his seven starts in total, he has missed just one cut. When he has made the weekend he has finished no worse than 36th.

Two top-4’s and two top-20’s are enough for me to take a chance on this wily veteran, even if he last win came in 2009.

It has been an up and down year so far for Kelly, but a top-10 at the Sony Open, a top-20 at the Players and a 2nd last week offer hope.

He was 26th in Canada three weeks ago as well, so since missing four straight cuts, he has obviously found something in his game.

It is mainly the strength of the field that gives me hope. I wouldn’t touch Kelly at 50/1 if the field were stronger, but it just isn’t. You are not going to get fancy prices this week, such are the circumstances. This week it really is a case of whether you can justify shorter odds on a player.

My gut instinct tells me Kelly can win again and win here. Given his age this may be his last great chance of winning a PGA Tour event.

Steve Wheatcroft 100/1 (BetVictor) (DraftKings $7,100)

From a player who may be looking for his last win Tour to one who is still looking for his first. Steve Wheatcroft is a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour but is yet to get it done on the PGA Tour.

In his last four starts Wheatcroft has two 5th place finishes, a 20th place finish and a missed cut. The missed cut last week isn’t ideal preparation for this week, but this is still a course he can contend at.

He came 8th last year which is a huge improvement on his first three starts here (58th-MC-MC) and I fancy him to do something similar this week.

Wheatcroft had missed four straight cuts leading into this tournament last year and still managed that T8 finish. If he can harness the positive memories from last year plus some recent form he may well contend.

At 100/1 I am willing to chance that he can build on his effort last year and at least replicate his two recent top-5 finishes.

He is also from Indiana which isn’t a million miles away from Illinois so he may enjoy playing in this part of the country.

These will be my only two bets, now onto my DraftKings selections.

DraftKings

Kelly and Wheatcroft will feature in my lineups and I won’t go into any more detail about them.

10k+ range

Jon Rahm ($11,400) is going to be crazy popular again this week given the strength of the field. He was around 40% owned last week and that could be even higher here, so regrettably I will leave him out.

Daniel Summerhays has a great chance of bagging his first PGA Tour win here, but I am not crazy about the 22/1 on offer. He will however be in my DraftKings lineups at $10,600. In five starts at the John Deere Classic, Summerhays has finished 8-13-4-MC-MC. His record since making his first cut here in 2014 is extremely promising. His recent from is excellent too. The missed cut at the Canadian Open was his first in nine events. Before that missed cut, he had finished in the top-14 of the Valero Texas Open (T13), the Wells Fargo Championship (T14) and the U.S. Open (T8). His best finish of the season came at the PGA Championship (3rd) and he followed that up with at T11 finish at the Travelers last week.

If you are taking Johnson or Stricker in this range, you’re going to be looking at the sub 7.5k range from now on.

8k – 9.5k range

These could be the most important picks this week. The high-end play pick themselves but there should be some variance here. Robert Garrigus ($9,000) and Patrick Rodgers ($8,500) are going to be popular plays this week so I am going to turn my attentions elsewhere.

First up is Robert Streb ($9,200). In three starts here, Streb has finished 14-37-22, so fairly steady. After finishing 7th at the PGA Championship two weeks ago he should come here with renewed confidence. The T7 at Baltusrol was his first top-10 since the 2015 PGA Championship. He had 9 top-10’s last season including a win and a 2nd so he is definitely capable. Garrigus and Rodgers should take the main interest at this price range, so I hope his ownership will be reasonable.

John Senden at $8,400 is my next pick. Senden has made 16/25 cuts this season and is a past winner of this event so looks a solid selection. He has missed four cuts here since that win in 2006 but also has finishes of 45th, 4th and 12th. He didn’t play here last year so it will be interesting to see what he does on his return this week. Senden has made his last three cuts, finishing 58th, 18th and 23rd.

Scott Brown is my last pick in this price range after his 25th place finish at the Travelers Championship last week. His record at the John Deere reads MC-5-22-7, so on 3/4 occasions he has played well. If a player finishes inside the top-7 on 50% of his starts at a course, he is worth taking at $8,100, even if the sample size is small.

7.5k and below

Where you need to look if you took the two at the top this week. There are plenty of options in this range including Wheatcroft who I have spoken about already.

I can’t cover them all, so here are my picks of the bunch.

Adam Hadwin is going through a fairly rough spell but he can snap out of it this week. Hadwin has missed two of his last three cuts (7 in total all season) but he did make the cut (49th) in Canada two starts ago. Hadwin finished 18th on his debut here last year and should he achieve similar his $7,500 price tag will seem reasonable. Looking at the field, I do believe he has top-10/15 upside so I am happy to chance him at the price.

Billy Hurley won the Quicken Loans National a week after the U.S. Open and has played well since. In four starts since he has finished 36th, 49th, 22nd and then missed the cut last week. His 22nd came at the PGA Championship so he is still playing some good golf. In three starts here he has missed two cuts, but did finish 8th in 2012. Due to his recent win and form I thought he was worth chancing considering he does have a top-10 here.

My last pick in the 7k range is Shawn Stefani who will cost you exactly $7,000. He’s had an up and down season (12/25 cuts) but an 11th place finish at the Travelers Championship last week suggests he can still go well. His sole top-10 this season came at the FedEx St.Jude Classic five starts ago so his recent form figures read 11-MC-31-44-9. This coupled with his decent course form suggests he may have top 15/20 upside. In three starts at the John Deere, Stefani has finished 35-13-MC.

Sub 7k

Vaughn Taylor and Tyrone Van Aswegen at $6,900 and $6,600 respectively are worth looking at given their recent form. Taylor has made his last four straight cuts, whilst Aswegen finished T5 last week and has made 21/27 cuts. Aswegen will probably be fairly highly owned which is an obvious downside.

For my last pick I like Alex Prugh at $6,700. He has made his last three cuts on the PGA Tour and has a T5 and a T8 in the last three weeks on the Web.com Tour. He is 3/3 at this event, with a high finish of 28th last year.