Best bets for the PGA John Deere Classic

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John Deere Classic

Rickie Fowler ended a 1,610-day winless drought, dating to the WM Phoenix Open in February 2019, with a playoff victory Sunday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic over Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin.

 

His recent form indicated a victory was on the horizon, which is why he was a short price at 14-1, with back-to-back top-10s at the Charles Schwab and Memorial, and of course, his T-5 at the U.S. Open, where he was the first-round co-leader and a part of the final pairing in both the third and fourth rounds.

Fowler ranked as low as No. 185 in the OWGR last September but is now rated No. 23 in the world and should likely be back on Team USA at the Ryder Cup this fall.

Rounding out the top 10 in Detroit were Taylor Moore, Lucas Glover and Peter Kuest, who were T-4, Adam Schenk (7th), Justin Lower (8th) and a five-way tie for ninth with Peter Malnati, Alex Noren, Brian Harman, Stephan Jaeger and Aaron Rai.

This week, the PGA Tour stays in the Midwest with its annual stop in the Quad Cities for the John Deere Classic. Denny McCarthy (14-1) was sixth here last year and has three top-8 finishes in his last six starts. Russell Henley (16-1) was runner-up in 2019 and comes in with four consecutive top-20 finishes.

Cameron Young (20-1) had seven finishes of second or third in 2022 but has only four top-10s in 16 events for 2023 and makes his debut in this event.

Former World Amateur No. 1 Ludvig Aberg (25-1) hit every fairway and missed just one green in the opening round last weekend at Detroit Golf Club on his way to a sparkling 65. He was in contention until a double bogey at the par-5 14th in Saturday’s third round halted his momentum and he ended up finishing T-40.

Hadwin (28-1), Taylor Moore (30-1) and Schenk (33-1) were all top-10 finishers in Detroit last weekend.

Emiliano Grillo (33-1) finished runner-up last year to J.T. Poston (40-1), who we tagged as a winner here at 55-1.

The Event

The John Deere Classic is customarily held the week before the British Open but was moved a week earlier beginning last year because of the Scottish Open now being part of the official PGA Tour schedule.

The tournament’s history dates to 1971 when it was established as the Quad Cities Open. It began as a satellite event that year and became a full-time PGA Tour event the following year. Longtime host and late-night sidekick Ed McMahon served as the event’s host from 1975 to 1979. Numerous Midwest-based companies, including Miller Brewing Company and Hardee’s, sponsored the event before current sponsor John Deere took over in 1999. The event moved all around the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa before settling at TPC Deere Run, located in Silvis, Ill., in 2000.

D.A. Weibring, who designed this week’s course, is a three-time winner of this tournament as is Steve Stricker (2009, 2010, 2011). Two-time winners include former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman (1971, 1972), Scott Hoch (1980, 1984), David Frost (1992, 1993) and Jordan Spieth (2013, 2015).

The Course

The descendants of the John Deere family donated the land on which TPC Deere Run, located in Silvis, Ill., and opened in 2000, was built. The track was designed by five-time PGA Tour winner D.A. Weibring, who is from nearby Quincy, Ill., and won this event three times (1979, 1991, 1995). The course plays as a par-71 of 7,289 yards and typically it does not give players much difficulty. In other words, this is a birdie-fest. The course record of 59 was set here by Paul Goydos in the first round of the 2010 John Deere Classic. There are 76 bunkers on the layout and three water danger holes.

Until a small renovation two years ago, no changes had been made to TPC Deere Run. The course underwent a comprehensive bunker renovation and competitive enhancement project. Bunkers were completely rebuilt with new grass surrounds, drainage, liners and sand, which also included reducing overall square footage by 30% and repositioning as needed to increase course strategy.

TPC Deere Run’s director of golf course maintenance Alex Studemann and PGA Tour advance man Mark Peterson oversaw the renovation. “We moved some of the bunkers into a more competitive aspect as to where we wanted them,” said Peterson of the changes made using statistics from recent tournaments as a guide to what needed to be adapted. “They tightened up some fairways. In doing so, they eliminated some of them and shrunk some of them, which will help them agronomically.”

The Southshore Bentgrass fairways are wide (37 yards average width — ninth widest on tour) and generous. The L-93 Bentgrass greens, mostly elevated, average 5,500 square feet, are very receptive and roll at around 12 on the stimpmeter. However, the Kentucky Bluegrass and fescue rough is around four inches and can punish players if they miss fairways.

The course itself has three par-5s, four par-3s and 11 par-4s. The par-3s are longer and tougher to score on. Eight of the par-4s are under 445 yards. All three of the par-5s are in the 550- to 600-yard range and should be reachable in two shots.

Although not a difficult course to score, TPC Deere Run forces players to use the entire full bag of clubs with sloping fairways, elevation changes and tight dogleg holes. Over the past five events, the John Deere Classic has averaged 1.39 shots under par per round, which makes it the ninth-easiest course played on tour over the past two years.

If looking for correlated or comparable courses to TPC Deere Run, think TPC River Highlands, Detroit Golf Club, TPC Twin Cities, TPC Craig Ranch, TPC Boston and Keene Trace.

Here is the official scorecard for this week’s John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Recent History

2022: J.T. Poston (-21/263); 50-1

2021: Lucas Glover (-19/265); 55-1

2020: tournament canceled due to COVID-19

2019: Dylan Frittelli (-21/263), 90-1

2018: Michael Kim (-27/257), 300-1*

2017: Bryson DeChambeau (-18/266), 50-1

2016: Ryan Moore (-22/262), 25-1

2015: Jordan Spieth (-20/264), 4-1**

2014: Brian Harman (-22/262), 125-1

2013: Jordan Spieth (-19/265), 40-1***

2012: Zach Johnson (-20/264), 12-1 ****

2011: Steve Stricker (-22/262), 7-1

2010: Steve Stricker (-26/258), 16-1

Tournament scoring record – *

Playoff win over Tom Gillis – **

Playoff win over David Hearn & Zach Johnson – ***

Playoff win over Troy Matteson – ****

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