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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: John Deere Classic (2023)


The PGA TOUR continues its mini-Midwest swing with a stop in Western Illinois for the John Deere Classic.


Held annually at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL, there isn’t anything on TOUR quiet like both this event and course.


With the final Major event of the season in The Open just two weeks away and a stop in Scotland for the Genesis Scottish Open a week ago, this event annually serves as a bye week for many of the TOUR’s best.


That doesn’t mean there will be a lack of drama this week as this event annually offers a log-jammed leaderboard with players of diverse skill sets.


There too is a lot to play for, with the top finishers punching their ticket to The Open.


The Field

As previously mentioned, this event is annually held before The Open and with the inclusion of the Genesis Scottish Open to the PGA TOUR schedule, the John Deere Classic lacks the TOUR’s star power.


Again, there is still a chance for those yet qualified for The Open to secure a spot with a top finish here this week.


Last year, just two players within the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) top-75 (Webb Simpson and Christiaan Bezuidenhout) competed, making it the weakest field for a primary event on the 2022 schedule


This year’s installment is headlined by Cameron Young (No. 19,) as the lone OWGR top-20 player teeing it up this week. Young continues his search for form and looks to secure his stop in the top 70 of the FedEx Cup Standings. Young has not had a top-30 finish since The Masters


There are a total of 18 golfers within the OWGR top-75 in this year’s field. Joining Young as notable name’s this year are Russell Henley (No. 32,) Denny McCarthy (No. 33,) Sepp Straka (No. 37,) Emiliano Grillo (No. 41,) Chris Kirk (No. 43,) Nick Taylor (No. 45,) Seamus Power (No. 49) and K.H. Lee (No. 50.)


Another name worth noting in this week’s field is Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg who is making his John Deere Classic debut. Aberg has his sights set on securing a spot on Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup Team come this fall and needs another stellar performance to keep his name in the running.


JT Poston is the defending champion and will be back this year in hopes to defend his title. Other former winners of this event in this week’s field include Lucas Glover (2021,) Dylan Frittelli (2019,) Michael Kim. (2018,) Ryan Moore (2016,) Zach Johnson (2012,) Jonathan Byrd (2007) and Sean O’Hair (2005.)


The Course

TPC Deere Run has been the host of this event since 2000. It was designed by D.A. Weibring and comes in at 7,258 yards and plays as a par-71.


For the third straight week on TOUR, we can expect another birdie-fest this week as the winning score typically breaks into the -20’s under par.


A winning score of -20 under-par or better has been the norm here as ten-of-the-last-13 installments reached that mark.


Michael Kim hold’s the event record with his impressive victory in 2018 where he finished -27, winning by eight strokes.


It goes without saying, this is not a challenging track. Despite that fact, there is the presence of undulated fairways, steep elevation changes and tight doglegs.


Due to this, golfers are required to use every club in their bag. There will be a premium on ball striking and short game, more than a typical birdie-fest. This course will reward the most precise ball strikers on TOUR who are able to convert most birdie looks.


The fairways and greens are above average in size in terms of TOUR standards. Due to this, accurate ball strikers who can find the fairways and then greens in regulation will have success


Despite the fairways playing wider than most TOUR tracks, there are plenty of tight tree lines and ticker rough that forces layups.


There are multiple long par-threes and par-fours beyond 450 yards featured this week.


As previously mentioned, this event has been the host of many dramatic and climactic finishes. Like the Travelers, we’ve come to expect playoffs and one-stroke victories here at the John Deere Classic.


The winner has emerged from a playoff or by one-stroke 16 times since 2000.


Course form isn’t a necessity here but the correlation to other short course birdie-fest type tracks is. For example, Poston, last year’s winner, placed T2nd at the Travelers Championship a week prior. He did not have a finish better than T64 in four prior John Deere Classic starts.


The Weather

As of the time of writing this, there is a 40-percent chance of precipitation on Saturday and Sunday. There is a zero-percent chance for precipitation Thursday and Friday. Highs will remain in the high 70’s across the four days, with a high of 80-degrees on Sunday. Winds will be at the highest on Thursday at 11 miles-per-hour while being in single-digits in terms of miles-per-hour the other three days. In all, not a bad four day stretch for some golf.


Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (SG: BS)

  • Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)

  • Strokes Gained: Approach

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Hit Fairway Percentage

  • Par Four Average Scoring

  • Par Five Average Scoring

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Proximity to the Hole from 75-150 Yards / Proximity to the Hole from 15-175 Yards

  • Birdie or Better Percentage


DFS Suggestions

$10,000+

Well it’s already been laid out that this event features one of the weakest fields we’ll see on TOUR for a regular event. With that being said, the options laid out in the following price ranges are not like what we are used to. With that being said, my first option in this price range is Russell Henley ($10,400.) Henley is currently tops on tour when it comes to hit fairway percentage. He is also 26th in par four average scoring, 32nd in SG: ATG, 35th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 41st in SG: APP, 42nd in SG: BS, 46th in GIR%, 76th in par five average scoring, 82nd in SG: OTT, 83rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 89th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards and 94th in birdie or better percentage. When it comes to this field, it’s hard to find someone above average in each of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration and that’s what we have in Henley. Henley is also in some great form heading into this week. In his last four tournaments he has made the cut in each of them, placing T16th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, T16th at The Memorial, T14th at the U.S. Open and T19th at the Travelers Championship. He did miss the cut at the PGA Championship but prior to that also went T19th at the RBC Heritage and T4th at The Masters. In this type of field, I’m all over Henley. I added him to the betting card at +1600. Also consider Cameron Young ($10,000.) My concern about Young will be his ownership, being the top ranked OWGR player in this field. However, his form is not good. He has made three straight cuts but his best finish in that stretch was a T32nd at the U.S. Open. His best finish on the season was a T7th at The Masters and T20th at the Genesis Invitational. I’m hoping the form keeps his ownership down because if there ever was a ‘get right’ tournament for Young, it would be this week. He is currently eighth on Tour in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 12th in SG: OTT, 15th in birdie or better percentage, 30th in SG: BS, 37th in SG: APP, 48th in GIR%, 57th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 59th in par five average scoring and 84th in par four average scoring. His score is brought down by a 111th placement in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 127th in SG: ATG and 141st in hit fairway percentage. In terms of the field, Young matches up well. He’ll have to catch some form this week to compete but like I previously said, this is the event do so in.


$9,000-$9,900

Adam Hadwin ($9,800) is fresh off a T2nd last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic as he fell in a playoff alongside Collin Morikawa to Rickie Fowler. Beyond that result, he made the cut at the U.S. Open and placed T12th at the RBC Canadian Open. He also has finishes such as T10th at the WM Phoenix Open and T13th at THE PLAYERS on the season. He is currently 25th on TOUR in hit fairway percentage, 30th in SG: APP, 33rd in par five average scoring, 44th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 49th in both SG: BS and par four average scoring, 56th in GIR%, 65th in birdie or better percentage, 66th in SG: ATG, 80th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 89th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 113th in SG: OTT. Not a bad resume for this field. I’m playing Hadwin on the betting card at +2200 as well. Also consider Emiliano Grillo ($9,200.) Grillo is currently tenth on TOUR in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 27th in SG: BS, 37th in GIR%, 41st in SG: APP, 50th in birdie or better percentage, 52nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 53rd in SG: OTT, 67th in hit fairway percentage, 84th in par four average scoring, 88th in par five average scoring and 91st in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards. His score in my model this week is brought down by a 160th placement in SG: ATG. In all, we hope the ball striking can keep Grillo competitive this week. He placed T15th in his last outing at the Travelers Championship. Grillo of course won the Charles Schwab Challenge back in May. He also has finishes such as T5th at the Mexico Fargo Championship and T7th at the RBC Heritage. I’m playing Grillo at +3100 on the betting card as well.


$8,000-$8,900

My first suggestion in this price range is Doug Ghim ($8,000.) Ghim has quietly been in some decent form coming into this week. He’s made the cut in five consecutive events where his worst finish was T33rd last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. In that stretch of events he also went T12th at the RBC Canadian Open, T15th at the Travelers Championship and T19th at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He is currently 16th on TOUR in SG: BS, 18th in hit fairway percentage, 19th in GIR%, 41st in par five average scoring, 62nd in SG: ATG, 80th in SG: OTT, 84th in par four average scoring, 86th in both proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards and proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. 96th in SG: APP, 114th in birdie or better percentage and 146th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. He’ll need to catch a hot flat stick this week to be competitive however. Also consider Alex Smalley ($8,900.) I think this is great value for one of the better ball strikers and iron players in this field. Smalley is currently 18th in GIR%, 29th in SG: BS, 35th in par four average scoring, 39th in SG: APP, 54th in SG: OTT, 65th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 76th in par five average scoring, 88th in hit fairway percentage, 101st in SG: ATG, 107th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 117th in birdie or better percentage and 133rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Smalley too has been in decent form coming into this week. He’s made three consecutive cuts going T9th at the Travelers Championship, T25th at the RBC Canadian Open and T47th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. I’m playing Smalley on the card this week at +3100.


$7,000-$7,900

My first suggestion in this price range is none other than Kevin Yu ($7,300.) I know he’s struggling a bit but we have to remember he is still returning from a long-term new injury that sidelined him for three months on the PGA TOUR. Yu is currently second on TOUR in both SG: BS and GIR%, third in SG: OTT, fifth in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, sixth in par four average scoring, 13th in birdie or better percentage, 22nd in par five average scoring, 50th in hit fairway percentage, 57th in SG: APP, 79th in SG: ATG and 93rd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. His troubles come on the greens where he ranks 174th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. I think with time Yu will regain his game. What better week than this week with a bit of the pressure off him. We can hope that he catches some form and due to a recent run of poor performances his ownership will be lower. Also consider Joseph Bramlett ($7,500.) Both of these suggestions in this price range are repeats from last week who had poor performances. Like Yu, we can hope Bramlett doesn’t have a repeat from last week where he missed the cut. Bramlett has missed back-to-back cuts at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and Travelers Championship where Yu made the cut at the Travelers. Bramlett did go T10th at the Mexico Open, T16th at The Memorial and T19th at the AT&T Byron Nelson not that long ago however. He is currently 20th on TOUR in GIR%, 35th in SG: APP, 38th in SG: ATG, 43rd in both SG: PUTT Bentgrass and birdie or better percentage, 47th in SG: BS, 48th in par five average scoring, 49th in par four average scoring, 56th in SG: OTT and 91st in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards. His score is brought down by a 166th placement in hit fairway percentage however. I will be playing him on the card at +6000.


$6,900-

Here is where things get interesting in such a field. My first suggestion here is Greyson Sigg ($6,900.) I’m rather excited about Sigg this week and I know how crazy that sounds. He’s made the cut in three straight events heading into this week (RBC Canadian Open, Travelers Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic.) That stretch of events was highlighted by a T19th at the Travelers. He is currently 13th on TOUR in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 32nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 35th in par five average scoring, 62nd in GIR%, 72nd in hit fairway percentage, 74th in SG: APP, 81st in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 82nd in SG: ATG, 88th in par five average scoring, 99th in SG: BS, 104th in birdie or better percentage and 107th in SG: OTT. He is above average in nine of the 12 statistical categories I took into consideration this week and is darn near average in three others. That’s a great resume for someone in this price range and he found his way onto my betting card at +10000. Also consider Ryan Moore ($6,900.) Moore is currently third on TOUR in hit fairway percentage, 13th in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards, 37th in proximity to the hole from 75-150 yards, 43rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 45th in SG: APP, 59th in par five average scoring, 72nd in SG: BS and 79th in GIR%. His score in my model is brought down by a 139th placement in par four average scoring, 152nd in SG: ATG, 155th in SG: OTT and 170th in birdie or better percentage. He does some things rather well which we can hope carries him above the cut line. He made the cut last week in Detroit and is a five time winner on TOUR, including a win at this event. A veteran presence in this price range in this type of field can go a long way.


Betting Card

  • Russell Henley (+1600)

  • Adam Hadwin (+2200)

  • Emiliano Grillo (+3100)

  • Alex Smalley (+3400)

  • Joseph Bramlett (+6000)

  • Greyson Sigg (+10000)

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