John Deere Classic – Silvis, IL
TPC Deere Run (7,268 yards, par 71)
$1,008,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Traditionally scheduled one week prior to the Open Championship, the Quad Cities will again host the John Deere Classic for its 47th installment. TPC Deere Run, the host course since 2000, features elevation changes, rolling woodlands, and firm conditions that make the course play much shorter than its scorecard yardage of 7,268 indicates. Due to its position on the schedule, the John Deere Classic features a diluted field as many top players are off or playing overseas in preparation for next week’s major. The past six years have yielded winners tipping the scales at around 22-under, making the event one of the lowest scoring on the PGA Tour. To cater to higher-caliber players, a convenient Sunday night charter flight is available to those qualifying for Royal Birkdale; 15 players in the field have already qualified, but one additional berth awaits the highest top-5 finisher who hasn’t already punched their ticket to Royal Birkdale.
Prior Decade Champions
2016 – Ryan Moore
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Brian Harman
2013 – Jordan Spieth
2012 – Zach Johnson
2011 – Steve Stricker
2010 – Steve Stricker
2009 – Steve Stricker
2008 – Kenny Perry
2007 – Jonathan Byrd
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Deere Run
• Driving Accuracy
• Proximity to Hole
• Birdie-or-Better Percentage
The list of champions points to many class acts with multiple PGA Tour wins, namely Spieth, Johnson, and Stricker. The key takeaway is the top players in a weak field fare quite well, but plenty of dark horses have contended here in the past. Whenever scores in the 20-under or better range are needed to win, players with “go-low” ability deserve a strong look. The ideal candidates are guys who can drive it accurately, hit it close from 100-150 yards, and convert putts under 15 feet. TPC Deere Run features three par-5s, 11 par-4s and four par-3s; all the par-5s are reachable to the entire field and there are just three par-4s over 450 yards - extremely manageable by PGA Tour standards. The Midwest crowds have developed an undying love for Stricker and Johnson over the years, both of whom have local ties and great track records at this venue.
FanDuel Value Picks
Zach Johnson, $9500 – Johnson is the most accomplished player in the field with two major victories and six top-3 finishes at TPC Deere Run. Though he’s priced a bit higher than expected, he’s a no-brainer option this week.
Steve Stricker, $9300 – Now at 50 years old, it’s possible age has caught up to Stricker, but he’s showing no signs of slowing with top-16s in four of his last six PGA Tour events. The crowd will be behind the Illinois alum who three-peated this event from 2009-2011, and comes in rested after skipping the U.S. Senior Open to catch his breath.
Danny Lee, $9200 – Riding the coattails of three straight top-25s, including a third at the Travelers Championship, Lee has plenty of upside this week. He skipped last year’s John Deere but was third in his last start here in 2015.
Brian Harman, $8700 – The 2014 champion at TPC Deere Run, Harman has elevated his game this year with a win at the Wells Fargo Championship and runner-up at the recent U.S. Open. With great form and a good history here, look for Harman to continue his great year.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Kevin Streelman, $6800 – Though Streelman’s record at TPC Deere Run is hit or miss with three missed cuts and two top-10s, his recent form of five straight top-30s makes him an attractive value option.
Daniel Summerhays, $6800 – Summerhays had victory in his sights at TPC Deere Run in 2013 before a bogey on the 72nd hole kept him out of a playoff. Since then he’s notched two more top-15s and a missed cut, which is enough to make him worth a shot at a bargain of $6800.
Curtis Luck, $6000 – With top-20s the last two weeks, the 20-year-old Luck has proven himself worthy of the PGA Tour after giving up his No. 1 world amateur ranking to turn professional in April. A bit of a flier option with no history at this event, but Luck has potential to surprise in a weaker field.
Johnson Wagner, $5600 – Wagner is 29th in proximity to the hole this season and comes at a no-risk price of $5600 having posted top-7s his last three starts at TPC Deere Run. Wagner has all the upside you hope for in a low-priced option, a great filler for lineups this week.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
There’s plenty of safety to be had in guys like Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker, but make sure to build in some diversity of young players who can make birdies with established veterans who know how to win on this track.