The PGA Tour moves from Detroit to another regular scene this week when the John Deere Classic takes place. This used to be the final event before The Open but with the alliance between the PGA and DP World Tours it is slightly earlier in the calendar now.
J.T. Poston was the man who headed over the pond with the ultimate confidence boost from winning this tournament last season and he’ll be looking for a similar outcome here against a competitive field.
2022 – J.T. Poston
2021 – Lucas Glover
2019 – Dylan Frittelli
2018 – Michael Kim
2017 – Bryson DeChambeau
2016 – Ryan Moore
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Brian Harman
2013 – Jordan Spieth
2012 – Zach Johnson
The strength of the field might have changed but the host course hasn’t as we are back at TPC Deere Run this week. This has always been a low scoring event, which has often been down to the indifferent weather that this part of the world sees at this time of year, and we are set for rain ahead of the tournament which is likely to present the players with a soft course for them to be aggressive on, so another birdie fest is expected.
The track has remained unchanged since we were last here so it is a par 71 which stretches to 7,289 yards which doesn’t mean you have to bomb it this week, Primarily this is a second shot golf course where it is all about setting up as many birdie chances as possible and convert a good percentage of them. Players with hot putters are the ones to be with. Some of the bunkers have been moved around so a little bit of course management might be needed early.
A number of the class acts that might have played in America two weeks before The Open have already departed the scene to head to Scotland to prepare for the Scottish Open next week which leaves us with a competitive field but one which is lacking in standout profile names. Cameron Young is probably the biggest name in the field this week which tells us a lot about the event we are likely to see.
The field does include the last two champions in J.T. Poston and Lucas Glover while Denny McCarthy will be looking to continue his good recent form to land a first PGA Tour title. The European charge is headed up by Ludwig Aberg for whom big things are being spoken of, while Adam Hadwin, Emiliano Grillo and Byeong-Hun An are some of the internationals looking to get their hands on the silverware on Sunday evening.
Russell Henley is a 16/1 favourite to win the tournament this week. That probably highlights the lack of standout quality in the field not just because a player who isn’t a frequent winner is the favourite here but also that he is as short as 16/1. I think from an experience standpoint he is probably a worthy favourite but he won’t have been in that position too often and that extra expectation might be a burden as a result. He isn’t for me.
Denny McCarthy and Cameron Young are next in the betting at 18/1. Both are good players but they are both looking for a first PGA Tour win and that is an interesting scenario and not one which I think represents value. McCarthy has blown a couple of chances this season and while this is against weaker opposition I’m not convinced he holds himself together well under pressure. Young is having a strangely quiet season and I’m certainly not interested in him.
Adam Hadwin is the only other player in the field who is shorter than 30/1. The man who lost out to Rickie Fowler in the playoff at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week can be taken at 28/1 and a repeat of that effort will surely be enough to get the job done. Backing up such a strong display the following week is never an easy thing to do though and that would be my concern. That aside, he looks a perfectly fair price.
I thought Taylor Moore was going to kick on at the halfway point of the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week and land a second PGA Tour title but the stop-start nature of the third round and the changing conditions did for him and in the end he had to finish strong for a top 10 finish. To his credit, he bounced back well from that indifferent third round display and that makes me think that he is worth supporting in a field which is significantly down in grade to the one he was competitive in last week. The course suits his profile well and we know he is an excellent putter so for me he is the one to beat.
One man who might give him most to think about is Chez Reavie. I took Reavie a couple of weeks ago at the Travelers Championship where he was in the final group on Sunday and while he produced a flat last round I think a lot of that was down to the fact that Keegan Bradley was powering away from him. There are certain tracks on the PGA Tour that a shorter hitter like Reavie can contend on and this is very much one of them. He has been on my radar for a few weeks now and he hasn’t left it yet. I’ll take him as my second bet.
I’ll go with a pair of outsiders this week as well with Brendon Todd being the first of them. He was the runner up at Pebble Beach earlier in the season but his top 10 at Quail Hollow was of particular interest because you would have thought that court was a little long for him and the field was of a high standard and yet he was able to compete. He is not a long hitter so these sorts of tracks where position off the tee is more important than length are where he generally has his best chance of doing his thing. He is an excellent putter and those two results I highlights suggest that he is more than competitive still so I’ll add him to the staking plan.
My final bet comes in the form of the former champion Ryan Moore. The fact he has won here is very much a positive as there are multiple examples of players returning to the scene of former glories and taking inspiration from it. Moore hasn’t had the best season but there was a top 10 at Pebble and more recently he bookended his week in Canada with rounds of 69 and 67 but it got away from him in the middle. Even last week on a Detroit course which got way too long for him he carded -7 for the week, five of which was in the opening round, so there is enough evidence that he might be hitting the ball better than his results and on a track which suits perfectly I’ll pay to see if that is converted into a big finish.
Back T.Moore to win John Deere Classic (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back C.Reavie to win John Deere Classic (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back B.Todd to win John Deere Classic (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 71.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back R.Moore to win John Deere Classic (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back him here: