Out of the Rough: The John Deere Classic
A big swing-and-a-miss this past week. Good thing we hit big at the US Open two weeks ago or this one would hurt a bit more. Nothing we predicted last week went well. Our favorite, Justin Thomas, withdrew from the tournament. We only had three of ten suggestions make the cut. This is arguably the worst we’ve done in this series. We have another tough tournament ahead of us in the John Deere Classic. I’m a bit excited for this tournament though as we get to look into golfers we normally wouldn’t due to the non-star filled field. Let’s hope we get a better result this week!
Justin Thomas - WD
Joaquin Niemann (+3) - MC
Aaron Wise (+1) - MC
Luke List (-9) - T19th
Nate Lashley (-8) - T25th
Rory McIlroy (-9) - T19th
Jordan Spieth (+1) - MC
Mito Pereira (-1) - MC
Tom Hoge (+7) - MC
Austin Smotherman (+1) - MC
The tour turns to TPC Deere Run in Silvia, Illinois this week as most of the tour’s top golfers have headed overseas to prepare for The Open in just two short weeks. Due to this, we get a field headlined by World #58 Webb Simpson.
As I previously mentioned, we get to look into some of the up-and-coming young golfers on tour and names that we normally wouldn’t get suggested through our formula and module. This excites me a bit.
TPC Deere Run is a Par 71 course set at 7,268 yards.
Expect a birdie-fest this week as this course annually ranks as one of the easiest on tour. We could see the winner hit 20-under-par as over the last five tournaments here, 17-under-par was the highest score to win.
The course features three par fives that all play straightforward and offer many chances for both eagle and birdie. To win, golfers must take advantage of these three holes across all four days.
Distance off the tee is not much of a factor here, as the par fives play straightforward and the par fours play short. Two of the par fours are under 400 yards and seven play under 450 yards. This allows all forms of golf games to be competitive.
Approach play and ball striking will be of a premium this week. Setting themselves up for as many birdie chances as possible, as easy as that sounds, is crucial to claim victory.
The greens are Bentgrass and with many low scores set to hit the leaderboard, putting too will be very important. You can’t lose strokes on the green and hope to win this week.
The fairways are rather narrow as well with taller-than-normal rough lining them, requiring golfers to hit fairways this week to set up an approach shot.
As for weather, we have seen summer thunderstorms play a factor at the event in year’s past. In this year’s forecast, there are chances for storms on Friday, peaking in the mid-morning hours. Those playing the early window on Friday could be affected. Beyond that, temperatures are set to range from the mid 80’s to low 90’s with sun shining.
Important statistics to consider this week include Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Birdie or Better Percentage, Hit Fairway Percentage, Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT) and Greens in Regulation Percentage.
Trends to consider include that nine-of-the-past-12 winners played in the event the year prior and made the cut at least once at the event and seven-of-the-past-11 winners ranked 54th or better on tour in SG: APP.
With all of the world’s top 55 golfers taking the week off, this price range is completely different than anything we’ve seen thus far this season. My favorite this week can be found in this price range however with Adam Hadwin ($10,400.) Hadwin has not played this event before, but his game lines up perfectly to compete for a win. He is 43rd on tour in SG: APP so he does fall into the latter of the two trends we listed previously. Hadwin is 30th on tour in greens in regulation percentage, 48th in hit fairway percentage, 51st in birdie or better percentage and 76th in SG: PUTT. Hadwin has made four straight cuts as well. He had a stretch of a T9th at The Players, T7th at the Valspar Championship and T4th at the Valero Texas Open in late March and early April. He’s also fresh off a T7th at the US Open which points that he’s trending in the right direction. Also consider Webb Simpson ($10,600.) As previously mentioned, Simpson is the highest ranked golfer in the world in the tournament and therefore, is the most expensive player on DraftKings. That’s for good reason however. He’s 38th on tour in hit fairway percentage, 55th in SG: APP and 69th in birdie or better percentage. He falls just one placement outside of the SG: APP trend we talked about prior. Simpson has not played at the event since 2010 either. Simpson has missed just four cuts in 16 tournaments this year and most recently went T13th at the Travelers Championship last week.
We’ll lead this price range off with Maverick McNealy ($9,500.) McNealy is currently 14th best on tour when it comes to birdie or better percentage, which will see him keeping pace with this low scoring leaderboard we will see this week. Additionally, he’s 40th on tour in SG: PUTT and 58th in greens in regulation percentage. He’s also 71st in SG: APP. He has now missed back-to-back cuts at the Charles Schwab Challenge and Travelers Championship but prior to that, he had missed just two cuts in 18 tournaments. That’s also four missed cuts in his last 20 tournaments. That’s pretty good. He has only three missed cuts in the calendar year and besides those two consecutive missed cuts, he has just one in a stretch of 12 tournaments. McNealy also played in this event a year ago where he finished T18th. Also consider Charles Howell III ($9,300.) Howell is elite when it comes to greens in regulation percentage as he currently ranks sixth best on tour. He’s also great in terms of birdie or better percentage ranking 32nd. He’s well above average in hit fairway percentage as well ranking 67th. He is just below the league average in SG: APP though and is well below average in SG: PUTT. A few right placed iron shots and getting a few putts to drop could propel Howell to the top this week with the rest of his game carrying him. Howell III has made back-to-back cuts at the Memorial Tournament and Travelers Championship. He’s missed just two cuts in his last seven tournaments, highlighted by a T4th at the Valero Texas Open in early April. Like McNealey, Howell played in the John Deere Classic last year and placed T23rd.
If we’re going off the trend of seven-of-the-past-11 winners ranking 54th or better in SG: APP heading into the event, this is the price range to look into. Lanto Griffin ($8,200) is currently ranked 45th on tour in SG: APP. He’s also 54th in birdie or better percentage and 63rd in SG: PUTT. He’s not horrible in the other statistical categories we’ve talked about in this article as he’s around the tour average in greens in regulation percentage and slightly below average in hit fairway percentage. Griffin last played in the tournament in 2018 where he did make the cut as well. Griffin has missed back-to-back cuts at the U.S. Open and Travelers Championship but did have a stretch prior of making five straight cuts, highlighted by a T6th at the Wells Fargo Championship. Also consider last year’s champion Lucas Glover ($8,300.) Obviously Glover’s game fits this course well as he won it all a year ago. He’s currently 36th on tour in SG: APP, 18th in hit fairway percentage and 22nd in greens in regulation percentage. He is slightly below league average in birdie or better percentage and what really brings down his score in our formula and module this week is the fact that he is one of the tour’s worst in terms of SG: PUTT. However, although slightly, he is in the positive in terms of gaining strokes on the field when putting on Bentgrass greens. That does play in his favor here as TPC Deere Run features pure Bentgrass greens. Glover has also made four straight cuts heading into the tournament. We could be seeing a repeat by Glover this week.
I’m going all in on Nate Lashley ($7,200) this week. Typically found in the $6,900 and under price range, Lashley has been playing some great golf as of late. He’s top 97 in all five statistical categories we’ve taken into account this week. He’s 30th in birdie or better percentage, 51st in greens in regulation percentage, 52nd in SG: PUTT, 68th in hit fairway percentage and 97th in SG: APP. In his last ten tournaments, Lashley has made the cut in seven events. He most recently went T25th at the Travelers Championship. In seven of those tournaments where he made the cut, he placed top 25 in six of them, top 15 in three and top ten in one. In his last appearance at the John Deere Classic, Lashley placed T26 in 2019. It’s time for Lashley to break through and I have my money on him this week doing just that. Also consider Tyler Duncan ($7,300.) Duncan is elite when it comes to hit fairway percentage as he’s top ten on tour at ninth. He’s also 41st in greens in regulation percentage, 56th in SG: APP and 79th in birdie or better percentage. He is well below average in terms of SG: PUTT, so he’ll need a few putts to drop in his favor this week. Duncan missed the cut at this event a year ago but did make the cut and placed T26th in 2019. He has made the cut in three-of-his-last-four tournaments. A few weeks back at the Charles Schwab Challenge he placed T15th.
Now to find those hidden gems in the lowest price range. First off we have Vaughn Taylor ($6,800.) Taylor is elite in terms of hit fairway percentage as he’s currently ranked seventh on tour. He’s also a very good ball striker, currently ranked 35th on tour in SG: APP. Beyond that, he’s below average in the other statistical categories. We’re banking on him hitting the fairways and using his very good iron play to put him into contention this week. Taylor has made consecutive cuts at the AT&T Byron Nelson and RBC Canadian Open. Taylor also made the cut at the event a year ago, placing T34th. That puts him in check for both of the trends we listed previously. Also consider Ben Kohles ($6,300.) Kohles has been on a bit of a rough stretch with three straight missed cuts but prior to that did make back-to-back cuts at the Mexico Open and Wells Fargo Championship. However, Kohles is top 126 on tour in all five statistical categories. He’s 75th in SG: PUT, 87th in greens in regulation percentage and 101st in birdie or better chances. It will take a bit for Kohles to make some noise this week but we’re hoping he can find a way to best the cut line.
Strokes Gained: Proximity to Course
Strokes gained: Proximity to Course (SG: PTC) is the patented statistic developed by Lenny of the Out of the Rough Podcast. Each week, Lenny will pick a golfer local to the course to be his SG: PTC choice. Last week Lenny went with Keegan Bradley. Bradley went -9 at last week’s Travelers Championship, good for T19th.
This week Lenny will go with Doug Ghim. Ghim grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois and attended Buffalo Grove High School, just over two hours away from TPC Deere Run.
SG: PTC Past Results
The Honda Classic - Chase Seiffert (+1) - T25th
The Arnold Palmer Invitational - John Pak (+8) - T52nd
The Players - Billy Horschel (WD)
The Valspar Championship - Sam Ryder (-1) - MC
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play - MC
The Valero Texas Open - Adam Long (-5) - T35th
The Masters - Patrick Reed (+6) - T35th
The RBC Heritage - Brian Harman (-6) - T35th
The Zurich Classic - Jay and Billy Haas (E) - T59th
The Mexico Open - Carlos Ortiz (-5) - T51st
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Harry Higgs (-4) - MC
The PGA Championship - Talor Gooch (+1) - T20th
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Tom Hoge (+4) - MC
The Memorial Tournament - Mackenzie Hughes (+2) - T37th
The RBC Canadian Open - Adam Svensson (-6) - T21st
The US Open - Fran Quinn (+13) - MC
Travelers Championship - Keegan Bradley (-9) - T19th
One and Done
*Rules: A golfer can only be played once all season unless the chosen golfer wins the respective tournament. If the chosen golfer wins, he can be used again. We will keep track of success via monetary earnings to add value to bigger tournaments. We will track my choices for the rest of the season below.
Joaquin Niemann did not do so well last week for us. He missed the cut and therefore didn’t record a single dollar. This week, as we’ve already used Adam Hadwin in this series, we’ll use our second favorite golfer in Nate Lashley.
The Masters - Shane Lowry ($870,000)
The RBC Heritage - Adam Hadwin ($54,844)
The Zurich Classic - Marc Lesihman ($24,111.50)
The Mexico Open - Gary Woodland ($60,955)
The AT&T Byron Nelson - Sam Burns ($0)
The PGA Championship - Justin Thomas ($2,700,000)
The Charles Schwab Challenge - Mito Pereira ($246,540)
The Memorial Tournament - Xander Schauffele ($142,800)
The RBC Canadian Open - Corey Conners ($315,375)
The US Open - Matt Fitzpatrick ($3,150,000)
Travelers Championship - Joaquin Niemann ($0)