John Deere Classic – Silvis, IL
TPC Deere Run (7,268 yards, par 71)
$1,044,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
The traditional prelude to the Open Championship, the Quad Cities brings back the John Deere Classic for its 48th installment this year. Perennial stalwarts Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker both return for their 17th appearances at this Midwestern get-together that feels more like a friendly barbecue than a high-stakes PGA TOUR event. Last year’s champion, Bryson DeChambeau, will look to defend for the first time as many hopefuls strive for the final spot at Carnoustie – the highest top-5 finisher not already in the Open Championship will get it. A convenient Sunday night charter flight to Carnoustie awaits those who qualify. As the host course since 2000, TPC Deere Run has been characterized as a track that plays shorter than its scorecard indicates and yields numerous birdie opportunities. It features some dramatic elevation changes, rolling woodlands, and firm conditions that have given way to champions eclipsing 20-under-par in seven of the last nine years. It goes without saying you should expect plenty of low rounds and leaderboard movement throughout the event.
Recent Past Champions
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
Though the field is typically diluted due to its position just before the overseas Open Championship, many accomplished players have claimed victory here. Focusing on the stats of past champions, the guys who can drive it accurately, hit it close from 100-150 yards, and convert putts under 15 feet are the ones to target. The most telling indicators for this week are Strokes Gained: Approach, Birdie-or-Better percentage, and Strokes Gained: Putting. Of secondary importance is driving accuracy, as this remains difficult to differentiate players on relatively short course where driver isn’t always required. Over the years the Midwest crowds have developed an endless magnetism for Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson – both have shown great loyalty to the event while showcasing some memorable victories of the years.
FanDuel Value Picks
Francesco Molinari, $12200 – Though Molinari has never played TPC Deere Run, his recent lapping of the field by eight shots at the Quicken Loans National means he’s in prime form. Nearly 50 percent of his advantage two weeks ago was in Strokes Gained: Approach, which is a key factor in making birdies at TPC Deere Run.
Bryson DeChambeau, $12100 – Defending your title for the first time on the PGA Tour might be a bit overwhelming, but DeChambeau is a unique talent who should overcome all the obligations to at least play solidly this week. Recently he has collected three top-25s his last three events, including a win at The Memorial. Look for his top-25 streak to continue this week, even if winning back-to-back is a stretch.
Zach Johnson, $11700 – Johnson is the most accomplished player in the field with two major victories and six top-3 finishes at TPC Deere Run, and yet there are three players with higher salaries this week. It’s almost criminal to exclude him from your fantasy lineup unless you want to go completely contrarian.
Ryan Moore, $11000 – Moore finished 13th at both The Greenbrier and The Memorial Tournament in recent starts, though he missed the cut at the Travelers in between. His course history at TPC Deere Run is rock solid with three top-10s in nine career starts, including his win in 2016. Ignore the missed cut last year -- he was battling a shoulder injury -- and plop him in your lineup. His game is a great fit for this birdie-yielding golf course and his results have proven that.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Wesley Bryan, $9000 – Bryan finished third at last year’s John Deere Classic and returns with form having made five straight cuts after an early season slump. Bryan’s solid putting (23rd in SG: Putting) and solid iron play (55th in SG: ATG) should propel him to another made cut with upside for a top-5 finish.
Danny Lee, $8100 – Lee has been feast or famine his last seven events with three top-15s and four missed cuts. He’s a risk-reward option at $8100 for sure, but he did finish third here in 2015, so there’s reason to believe he could feast this week in a diluted field.
Sung Kang, $8000 – Kang withdrew last week due to accusations of cheating stemming from his third place finish the week prior at The National. Accusations aside, you can’t argue that he played well, while also qualifying for the Open Championship. Add in the fact that he’s notched two top-15s in three starts at TPC Deere Run and you have a sleeper at $8000.
Andrew Landry, $7900 – Two years ago Landry notched a Top-10 at the John Deere Classic in his first start there. Entering this week on the heels of a Top-10 at The National two weeks ago, Landry should be primed to do well in a weaker field this week. He broke through for his first victory at the Valero Texas Open earlier this season, so his recent success should give him confidence should he find himself in the mix on the weekend.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
There’s plenty of safety to be had in staples like Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, and Steve Stricker, but beyond that make sure to insert some young players who can make birdies -- a couple of young talents in Spieth and DeChambeau both earned their first victory at TPC Deere Run.