John Deere Classic
TPC Deere Run (7,268 yards, par 71)
$1,044,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Setting the Stage
SILVIS, IL – Nestled in the Quad Cities area along the border of Iowa and Illinois lies a Midwestern staple. This staple, known as the John Deere Classic, attracts a loyal Midwestern crowd that values an honest day’s work and players with local ties. For 16 years, Cedar Rapids, IA native Zach Johnson and Illinois alum Steve Stricker have grown both their careers and appeal at this special place, making this an event with longevity. TPC Deere Run, known for its low scoring and dramatic elevation changes, plays shorter than it’s 7,268 scorecard yardage indicates, allowing many short iron opportunities on relatively flat greens. One spot in the upcoming Open Championship is reserved for the highest top-5 finisher not already in the field, so there’s plenty at stake for hopefuls who haven’t punched their ticket to Carnoustie yet. It all adds up to an entertaining event with a loyal fan base that is sure to flock toward familiar names.
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2017 – Bryson DeChambeau
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
Key Stats to Victory
• Driving Accuracy
• Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Birdie-or-Better percentage
Bring Your Wedges and Putter
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 – this alone makes it vulnerable. In addition, the course is set up to play firm and fast, so straight hitters will gain extra runout on their tee shots and set up many controllable wedge opportunities. From there it’s all about hitting it close and making most of your birdie looks under 15 feet. If there’s one “holy grail” stat this week it’s probably Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, as that has accounted for over 35 percent of the scoring advantage for players since 2010. Birdie-or-better percentage is also critical because a high percentage for a player indicates they have the mindset to go low and are aggressive in attacking flags, which is exactly what is needed in a low-scoring event like the John Deere Classic.
Yahoo Value Picks
Best of the Best
Zach Johnson, $42 – There’s nothing quite like a hearty Midwestern crowd following their favorite hometown kid, and this week the nearby Cedar Rapids native tees it up for the 17th time at the John Deere Classic. Johnson is fully entrenched in the event as a board member of the JDC, so his commitment and results for this event have developed a life of its own. Even if Zach was listed at $45, he would still be a must-have in my opinion.
Ryan Moore, $42 – Moore battled a shoulder injury last season, which resulted in a missed cut at the John Deere Classic, but don’t be concerned at all: Moore put together five top-25 finishes his last six years at this event. Add in a top-25 ranking in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and you have a great fit for TPC Deere Run who will look to contend yet again this year.
Steve Stricker, $37 – Now 51 years of age, Stricker’s peak years appear to be behind him. However, at an event where he won back-to-back-to-back titles from 2009-2011, Stricker’s fan support and recent success on the Champions Tour should carry him to a solid finish. The veteran is still an elite short iron player and putter, so consider him a real threat in this Midwestern event not far from either his alma mater, the University of Illinois, or his home state of Wisconsin.
Scott Piercy, $30 – In his last start, Piercy found himself in the final group Saturday at the U.S. Open, only to tumble down the leaderboard on the weekend. His form early in the week showed his potential, while his weekend showed his downside. However, in this week’s much diluted field, Piercy should at minimum make the cut like he has in his last five appearances at TPC Deere Run, while providing upside for a top-5 finish.
Joaquin Niemann, $30 – The Chilean teen has announced himself to the PGA Tour this season with top-17 finishes in four of his last five starts, indicating he feels like he belongs. In a weaker field, this could be his shot to pull off a Jordan Spieth-like maiden victory (see: 2013) and fully earn his PGA Tour card for next year.
Johnson Wagner, $22 – Believe it or not, Wagner has the fifth best course history in terms of Strokes Gained at TPC Deere Run. His three top-7s over the past four years are hard to explain, but it’s hard to argue with results. At a near minimum price this week, Wagner is a great flier pick to fill in your roster.
Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week (based on $200 standard salary cap)
There are many stalwarts this week who have proven great at TPC Deere Run over the years, but don’t overlook some very talented young players who could contend in this diluted field and separate your lineup from the rest. In fact, both Bryson DeChambeau (2017) and Jordan Spieth (2013) earned their breakthrough first victories here, so it’s certainly not out of the question it could happen again.