John Deere Classic
Defending Champ: Ryan Moore
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John Deere Classic Show Index
John Deere Classic Field
156 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make the Cut
It’s like the John Deere Classic took a look at last week’s Greenbrier field and cranked the shittiness up to 11. Now, it’s not entirely the organizer’s fault. I know I keep harping on this, but as a Canadian it’s my duty to be mad about PGA scheduling; The Canadian Open, despite its history gets the PGA proletariat in terms of field class because it falls the week after the Open Championship. Still, with RBC as a title sponsor, and it being a national championship (the third oldest in the world to boot. Which, FYI, rhymes with about), it does get a few larger names. Situated the week before the Open Championship, the John Deere Classic suffers the same fate, but much, much worse. It’s the Week 17 of the PGA TOUR.
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Anyone who’s worth a damn is either taking a rest until the Open or playing at the Scottish Open getting acclimated to the conditions and time change. Now THAT’S a field: Rickie, Rory, Stenson, Scott, Kuchar, Reed, Grace, Noren, Kaymer, Dufner, Poulter, Grillo, RBC, Fisher, An, Party Marty in a home game, and a bunch of other recognizable names. It’s one of more competitive events on any tour all season. Now, for us PGA loving, can’t get enough of the odd 230-300pm EST break from Golf Channel to CBS break fools, we get to consume a birdie fest featuring Top 40 players such as Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner, Charley Hoffman, and Brian Harman!!! Exciting times. And, frankly, I have no idea why those guys are even playing. All four are already qualified for Royal Birkdale and don’t need to exploit the final auto-bid into the Open for the highest finisher this week. Wouldn’t it be better traveling overseas, getting your game proper, and focusing on contending next week? I would think so. These guys probably just see the lack of competition and a $1M payday within their reach. I kinda get it now.
After the top four, the field is filled with ascending stars, old locals, and the typical PGA grinders. The most notable names: Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Charles Howell III, Ryan Moore, William McGirt, Kyle Stanley, Danny Lee, Wes Bryan, Kevin Na, and Harris English.
John Deere Classic Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Approach
Birdie or Better Percentage
Proximity: 125-175 Yards
Greens in Regulation
John Deere Classic Course
TPC Deere Run | Par 71 | 7,268 Yards
Be prepared for lowwwwwwwwwwwww numbers this week. TPC Deere Run generally produces the most birdies of any course on TOUR; don’t expect that to change anytime soon, either. With a majority of approach shots coming from inside 175 yards, the field will be able to pick apart the grounds with their wedges and short irons. With past champions like Stricker, Spieth, Moore, and Zach Johnson, it’s clear distance off the tee isn’t going to factor into the end result as significantly as most weeks. Just load up on the players who make birdies in bunches and pray their putters don’t let them down.
John Deere Classic Picks (Yahoo Game)
Kevin Streeleman & Smylie Kaufman – In depleted fields like the John Deere Classic, the A-List in the Yahoo game takes the biggest hit. There are only six players to chose from, and none are overly great options. Fortunately, Streeleman has been consistent enough to back, with five made cuts in a row and four T20s in that stretch, his elevated GIR numbers should fuel him to another quality finish in the Quad Cities… Kaufman has been far more of a rollercoaster, but we know he can pile up birdies quickly when his game is clicking. Last week at Greenbrier, his approach game was dialed in, gaining 3.8 strokes on the field, despite a T37 finish. If he can merely putt the way did in his two starts previous, Smylie can contend.
Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na, Danny Lee, & Scott Brown – Despite the weak fields over the years, the winners of the John Deere Classic have all been pretty quality players. You’d think in a field so large there’d be some weird outliers that were never heard from again. So, in the B-List, stick with the names you know, and may actually remember three years from now. Kisner shit the bed last week at Greenbrier, which may lead everyone to pass on him this time around. Don’t make that mistake. Even with a disastrous two days in West Virginia, Kiz is no worse than 36th versus the field in any strokes gained metric over his past 12 rounds, and is actually second in total strokes gained in that stretch… Can you just make a putt Kevin Na? Please? How bout you Danny Lee? If paychecks were given out solely to those who dominate with their irons, these two would own the PGA TOUR by now. Turns out, that’s not the case. Like we witnessed with Stanley and Schauffele the last two weeks, putting can flip at a moment’s notice, so loading up on the players giving themselves the best opportunities to make birdies, will eventually pay dividends. Hopefully Na or Lee (or Both!) can flip the switch this week… The king of the first round, Brown has a feel for this layout. In five career starts, he’s missed the cut just once, and churned out a pair of Top 10s and four T25 finishes. And it makes sense, if you look at where Brown excels, it’s between 125-175 yards on approaches. And, he’s consistently good enough off-the-tee to get himself into scoring position. If he can merely not collapse on Friday, something he’s very familiar with, Brown’s got an outside shot.
Daniel Berger & Brian Harman – In a 156 man field, in a sport with such high variance, stick with a few proven names at an easy track. Berger’s feasted on these simple courses recently, with a win and a playoff loss in his past two non-US Open events. There’s no reason to fade him here… Harman’s a former champ of this event, with four Top 10s in his past eight starts, and rates out among the best in the field form 125-175 yards. These two with be very chalky picks, so if you want to risk it and go contrarian to gain points on your completion, I suggest Ben Martin, Kelly Kraft, Nick Taylor or David Hearn. In that order.
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