We’re pretty used to seeing weaker fields for the John Deere Classic, but this one might take the cake. This is the last chance for players on the outside looking in for The Open Championship to punch a ticket to Royal Portrush and those types of players make up most of the field this week in Silvis, Illinois at TPC Deere Run.
While all the focus is on the last major berth, the playoffs are also just about a month away and there is only one more full-field event after this one to acquire points in order to get into the top 125 to make the playoffs. More on that in our John Deere Classic write-up.
Odds for the John Deere Classic are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers.
The Open & The Playoffs
There is one spot left for The Open Championship. It goes to the highest top-five finisher in the John Deere Classic. Only 13 players participating next week in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush are in the field this week, so that means that a LOT of players are gunning for that last spot.
Not only that, but there is only one full-field event after this one for picking up FedEx Cup playoff points. Those not in The Open Championship can play the Barbasol Championship, which awards 300 points to the winner and has a much smaller point pool. The same can be said of the Barracuda Championship, which is the alternate event to the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on July 28. The Wyndham Championship is the last 500-point event with a full field.
The FedEx Cup Playoffs have been cut down to three events this season with The Northern Trust, BMW Championship, and then TOUR Championship. PGA Tour officials wanted to be done before butting heads with the NFL in September, hence the shortened schedule and playoff format.
An Open Tune-Up
TPC Deere Run is a course that sets up really well for scoring. Just ask Michael Kim, who shot 27-under last year en route to setting the course record and winning by eight strokes. The previous course record belonged to Steve Stricker in 2010 at 26-under when he won his second of three John Deere Classic titles.
Nine of the last 19 winners of this event were first-time winners on the PGA Tour, including Bryson DeChambeau in 2017 and Kim last year. Even though this is a par 71 coming in at nearly 7,300 yards, hazards are few and far between and the greens are usually pretty forgiving. Paul Goydos shot a 59 in 2010 and Stricker carded a 60 that same day en route to his victory, so low scores are very much possible here.
Who? What? Huh?
If household names are your thing with golf, well, this event ain’t for you. Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa share co-favorite honors at +1800. Joaquin Niemann, Sungjae Im, and last week’s winner Matthew Wolff are the co-second favorites at +2200. On the bright side, with a field like this, we see a pretty big spread in the prices. We usually have a favorite in the 8/1 to 10/1 range. That isn’t the case this week. But, you’re also looking for a lot of youngsters or veterans without a win to keep it together for 72 holes.
Elder statesman Zach Johnson will get a lot of love this week at 25/1, as he has seven top-five finishes in this event in his last 10 tries.
This is a reaaaaaaally weak field. After Hovland and Morikawa, who have been great in limited appearances, Kevin Streelman is tops in ball striking with a SG: OTT + SG: Approach number of .901. Jhonattan Vegas is next at .82. Niemann is next at .78. This is not a consistent or overly talented field. That means you want to take some shots. There are plenty of shots to take.
Course & Recent Form
Aside from Zach Johnson, who has a win, three seconds, two thirds, and a fifth here since 2009, there are some others that have played well here. Matt Jones has three top-seven finishes, but none since 2013. Ryan Moore has three top-10 finishes since 2012. Kevin Streelman has three since 2009. Johnson Wagner was seventh, fifth, fifth from 2014-16 and rebounded from a MC with a 16th last year. Brian Harman won here in 2014. JJ Henry has three top 10s since 2009. Several players have recent top-five finishes.
Speaking of Harman, he was seventh last week and eighth three events ago. Joaquin Niemann had fifth-place finishes in back-to-back events before finishing 23rd last week. Wyndham Clark has three straight top-20 finishes, but his price has been cut from triple digits to 40/1.
Well, in line with taking some shots, how about Sepp Straka? Straka is 80/1, but he’s one of the best ball strikers in this field. Straka is 36th in driving distance, 65th in SG: Tee to Green, 46th in SG: Off the Tee, and 41st in SG: Approach. There aren’t a ton of great putters in this field, but these greens seem pretty fair.
Short hitters like Stricker and Johnson have won here recently, so why not look at Pat Perez? Perez is also 80/1, but ranks 24th in SG: Around the Green and 16th in SG: Putting. Perez isn’t a big hitter, but he’s fairly accurate and plays well with the wedges and putter.
Also in that range, Sam Ryder at 70/1 is a good bet. Ryder, who was second here last year, ranks top 50 in par 4 and par 5 scoring, SG: Approach, SG: Putting, Birdie or Better and Bogey Avoidance. He’s top 100 in driving distance and accuracy, SG: Tee to Green and Off the Tee.
Among the shorter prices, Harman has been playing well at 28/1 and Lucas Glover might have the most consistent stats of the guys in this field, so he makes some sense at 28/1 as well. Both players were seventh last week.