With one week to go before the Open Championship, the PGA TOUR heads into Illinois for its traditional stop at the John Deere Classic. This event has been held at TPC Deere Run since 2000, a D.A. Weibring designed venue that plays as a par 71 at approximately 7,268 yards. The venue features pure Bentgrass greens and again is a course that the PGA TOUR pros have traditionally gone very low at—it yielded a 69.510 scoring average in 2019. This is another full-field, 156-man event and was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Dylan Frittelli ($7,800, +5500) won here by two shots at 21-under over Russell Henley ($9,900, +2000) in 2019.
The players will be taking on TPC Deere Run this week, which sets up as one of the easiest venues on the PGA TOUR. Typically ranked inside the top-10 in terms of scoring, TPC Deere Run features three very straightforward par 5s that the players must take advantage of. Of the past five winners here, only one (Jordan Spieth in 2015) ranked outside the top-10 in par 5 scoring for the week. Additionally, the venue features a ton of shorter par 4s with seven measuring under 450 yards in length. This makes short iron play this week a big thing to focus in on.
Typically the approach ranges of most importance here are 125-150 yards and 150-175 yards, but you can also look at players with good par 4 efficiency from 400-450 yards. Kevin Streelman ($9,700), C.T. Pan ($7,200) and Jhonattan Vegas ($8,000) are just a few players who rank inside the top-10 in this stat over the last 50 rounds.
Course history can be a big feature here too. The Bentgrass greens are some of the purest on the PGA TOUR and with fairways and greens here being easy to hit, this event often delves into a putting contest. The last three winners here have all gained +7.5 strokes or more on the greens putting and players with good course knowledge and history certainly have a leg up in terms of being able to navigate the putting surfaces. Johnson Wagner ($6,400) and Zach Johnson ($8,500) rank first and second respectively in SG: Total stats at this venue over the past five years.
With low scoring and birdie opportunities available on almost every hole, it’s also important to give extra emphasis to players who gain a lot of birdies and birdie opportunities every round. DraftKings Sportsbook event favorite Daniel Berger ($11,100, +1100) ranks first in Birdie or Better opportunities in this field over the last 50 rounds. Looking at birdie rates over the last few events could be a good way to unearth some hidden gems this week from lower in the DraftKings salary structure.
Russell Henley (+2000 to Win, $9,900 on DraftKings)
We’re getting solid enough odds here on Henley to take a shot on him for an outright. This is a player who, after all, finished 2nd at this event in 2019—after shooting a final-round 61—and made his way into the lead after three rounds of the US Open just a couple of weeks ago. Henley sets up perfectly for the short iron based TPC Deere Run as he ranks 2nd in proximity from 125-150 yards and first in SG: Approach stats in this field. He should be seething after a poor final round at the Travelers dropped him from T3 to T19, and this week sets up as a great opportunity to grab a win and vault himself back into the top-50 in the OWGR. He’s perhaps even a little undervalued at under $10K for DFS purposes, especially given the names above him in salary.
Si Woo Kim (+3500 to Win, $9,100 on DraftKings)
Kim can be a streaky player but he’s coming into this event having made the cut in three of his last four starts and is just three starts removed from a T9 at the Memorial. His putter has been ice cold of late (lost strokes putting in three straight events) but his approach game and around the green game is firing well enough right now that he can compete this week if he finds some rhythm on these Bentgrass greens. From a long-term perspective, Si Woo looks mightily undervalued in this field considering he’s ranked 50th in the OWGR, is 4th in this field in SG: Tee to Green stats and ranks inside the top-25 in proximity from 125-150 yard and 150-175 yard approaches (both over the last 50 rounds). He’s skipping the Open next week (his focus is on the Olympics), so expect him to be going full bore after the win here.
Doc Redman (+5500 to Win, $8,200 on DraftKings)
Redman was included in my basket of players last week and promptly missed the cut for us. I won’t hesitate to go back to him though as the third-year PGA TOUR pro sets up very well for TPC Deere Run, a venue that places special emphasis on short iron play and putting. Prior to his MC at Detroit, Redman had gained strokes putting and on approach in five straight starts and ranks inside the top-25 in proximity stats from 125-150 yards and 150-175 yards. He also has a great record of bouncing back quickly from missed cuts as he grabbed multiple top-5s in the Fall after MC’ing in his previous start. The MC from last week has given us better than expected odds here on a solid young player who should excel at venues like Deere Run over the long term and he makes for a great midrange type of target for betting on DraftKings Sportsbook this week.
Patrick Rodgers (+8000 to Win, $7,400 on DraftKings)
Rodgers enters this week having made four straight cuts in a row but is still flying a bit under the radar. The former Stanford star has picked up his ball-striking of late, having gained strokes OTT and on Approach in each of his last two starts. The +2.5 strokes he gained on approach last week actually represented his best mark in that area since the 2020 Honda Classic. Rodgers has shown the ability to light it up on the greens at Deere Run in the past and has gained over +5.0 strokes putting here twice in his last three appearance, which includes a solo 2nd place finish from back in 2017. He’s a good longshot target here for me and a player trending well enough to perhaps pull off the longshot win this week.
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