DraftKings PGA: John Deere Classic

DraftKings PGA: John Deere Classic

This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.

JOHN DEERE CLASSIC

Purse: $6.2M
Winner's Share: 1.116M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Silvis, Ill.
Course: TPC Deere Run
Yardage: 7,268
Par: 71
2020 None

Tournament Preview

You'd be hard-pressed to find a community more devoted to its golf tournament than the Quad Cities is to the John Deere Classic. There aren't many sporting events in this area of Illinois/Iowa, certainly not before college football season starts up. So it was a crushing blow to the locals when last year's tournament was canceled because of the pandemic. It is now back in its usual spot as the lead-in to the Open Championship and, as always, the field is, um, not good.

The top-25 in the world rankings sent Daniel Berger as their lone representative this year. Sungjae Im, Kevin Na, 2014 champion Brian Harman and Si-Woo Kim round out the top-50 contingent. (And this is actually a strong Deere field.) Oh, there are some perennial favorites – at least to the fans attending. Three-time champion Steve Stricker is here, as is 2012 winner Zach Johnson – they are both scheduled for pre-tournament interview sessions – plus Brandt Snedeker, Russell Henley and ... we'll stop here because anytime you need Russell Henley to pump your golf tournament it's time to stop.

When we last saw the Deere two years ago, there were *zero* top-50s. But ... but .. there was some real buzz for that tournament. That's because the Class of '19 – Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff – was not long out of college and in the field, and just days after Wolff edged Morikawa to win a thrilling 3M Open. Morikawa wound up in a tie for fourth, four strokes behind winner Dylan Frittelli's 21-under. There are no young sponsor invites of similar stature or pedigree on hand this year in the maxed-out field of 156. Did we mention that Jason Dufner is here? Chez Reavie?

In fairness, there are a bunch of former area college players who have been given sponsor invites. They are far from the Morikawa-Hovland-Wolff pedigree, and each is making his PGA tour debut. They are Michael Feagles (Illinois), Trip Kinney (Iowa State), David Perkins (Illinois State) and Alex Schaake (Iowa). There's also Luke Kluver, who is still in college at Kansas.

TPC Deere Run has been the host course ever since the D.A. Weibring design was completed in 2000. The tournament dates to 1971 – meaning this is the 50th anniversary – when future PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman won the first two editions that were known as the Quad Cities Open. Weibring himself went on to win it three times, but never at Deere Run.

The course has played host to a handful of 59s. Paul Goydos turned the trick in the first round in 2010. Unfortunately for Goydos, Stricker was right behind that day with a 60, en route to a tourney-record 26-under-par. That perfectly illustrates the annual track meet that is the John Deere Classic. The winning score is generally north of 20-under. Deere Run had the third-most birdies on Tour in 2019-20. The most exciting hole is the drivable 358-yard 14th, playing downhill to a tiny green. The hardest most years is the par-4, 476-yard 18th. They consider the 153-yard 16th to be the signature hole. Overall, the course is short. The fairways are generous. The bentgrass greens are on the small side, averaging 5,500 square feet with the stimpmeter running at around 11.5. There is water on three holes.

Even though the field is weak, there are about a dozen golfers who are scheduled to hop on a charter flight on Sunday night en route to the Open Championship. One more could be joining them in England, as a spot in the 156-man field is available for a top-five finisher not already exempt into Royal St. George's.

Weather-wise, there is rain in the forecast every day but one from Wednesday through Sunday. That's Thursday. So checking the weather closer to the lock is mandatory. Otherwise, temperatures should mostly be in the 70s with light to moderate wind.

Fun John Deere factoid No. 1: Organizers tried to attract attention when Michelle Wie was given a sponsor's exemption two years in a row. She was inside the cut line in 2005 until a late double bogey/bogey did her in. The following year, far outside the cut line, Wie withdrew, citing the excessive heat.  

Fun John Deere factoid No. 2: Roger Maltbie won the tournament in 1975, when it known as, of all things, the Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad Cities Open. Fellow golf announcer Curt Byrum won it in 1989. Some other winners were Payne Stewart, Scott Hoch, Vijay Singh and, more recently, Jordan Spieth (twice) and Bryson DeChambeau.

Key Stats to Winning at TPC Deere Run

The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.

• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Birdie-or-Better Percentage (BOB)/Bogey Avoidance

Past Champions

2020 - None
2019 - Dylan Frittelli
2018 - Michael Kim
2017 - Bryson DeChambeau
2016 - Ryan Moore
2015 - Jordan Spieth
2014 - Brian Harman
2013 - Jordan Spieth
2012 - Zach Johnson
2011 - Steve Stricker
2010 - Steve Stricker

Champion's Profile

Looking back over the last 10 editions, the winner here has been in the top 10 in putting nine times, with only Harman (31st) missing out. Some very good putters have won this tournament, and even Harman is one of them. Interestingly, only four of the past 10 winners finished top-10 in greens in regulation, and Harman was again one of those. Last year, only one of the top-15 on the leaderboard ranked in the top-10 in driving distance. Fairways hit matters little. Frittelli ranked 10th in greens in regulation, 15th in SG: Tee-to-Green and second in SG: Putting. Russell Henley was runner-up and held back by his putter, as was Collin Morikawa, who ranked first in the field in GIR and SG: Approach but was 65th in putting. The over/under on the winning score on golfodds.com is 263.5, which is 20.5 under par.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS

Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap

Tier 1 Values 

Daniel Berger - $11,100 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
Berger clearly is the class of the field, at No. 16 the only golfer in the top-25 in the world entered. It does give us pause that he's only $11,100 as the top guy on the DK board when that often is the price for a No. 2 guy. But there's no disputing the credentials of someone with a win and five other top-10s in 13 starts in 2021, of someone who is ranked eighth on Tour in greens in regulation, 25th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 29th in SG: Putting.

Brian Harman - $10,400 (16-1)
We can't say Harman is having his best season on Tour – that would be 2016-17, hands down – but this may be his second best. He has missed only two cuts in 22 starts, half of which have ended with top-25s, with five top-10s. He has one of the best short games on Tour – ranked 25th in SG: Around-the-Green and 13th in SG: Putting. He won here in 2014.

Russell Henley - $9,900 (20-1)
When we last saw Henley at TPC Deere Run, he was closing with a 10-under 61 to secure solo second. He's coming off back-to-back top-20s at the U.S. Open and Travelers, results that actually are disappointing as he was in contention on Sunday both weeks. Henley is ranked fourth on Tour in SG: Approach.

Kevin Streelman - $9,700 (25-1)
After stringing together four straight top-20s, the last thing anyone expected out of Streelman at the Travelers was a missed cut. He's like Mr. Hartford, after all. While he has been successful at Deere Run, it's been a mixed bag. But he does have three top-10s in his past eight visits, including a tie for seven the last time he was there in 2018. At age 42, Streelman is ranked 25th on Tour in greens in regulation and 34th in SG: Tee-to-Green.

Tier 2 Values

Alex Noren - $9,300 (30-1)
The former top-10 golfer (yes, in the world) was quietly have a very good season that became much more in the open on Sunday as he almost stole the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He has 10 top-25s in 21 starts (and 10 out of 16 when he makes the cut). He's ranked top-40 on Tour in both SG: Around-the-Green and Putting. This will be Noren's Deere Run debut.

Patton Kizzire - $8,900 (40-1)
We liked Kizzire last week (at a significantly lower price) and he was so-so with a tie for 25th. He lit it up on Sunday in Detroit with an 8-under 64, and he has the full-on ability to do it again at Deere Run. And more than one round, too. He's ranked 42nd on Tour in greens in regulation – which would get him into the golf hall of fame in this field – and 15th in SG: Putting. Kizzire has played here twice before, tying for 30th and 25th.

Zach Johnson - $8,500 (40-1)
Johnson no longer is the same cut-making machine he used to be. He's missed five already in 2021, more than in most years. But three of them have been in the majors. In his 16 made cuts, he has six top-25s and three top-10s. And we all know his proficiency at Deere Run, where he has seven top-10s through the years and missed only three cuts in 18 starts.

Hank Lebioda - $8,400 (40-1)
Yes, this could be Hank Lebioda chalk week. The left-hander is coming off consecutive top-5s and has made six straight cuts. He's up to a career-high 176th in the OWGR. Lebioda is ranked top-25 on Tour in greens in regulation and top-40 in putting. And lately, those numbers are far better. He missed the cut in his Deere Run debut two years ago.

Tier 3 Values

Jhonattan Vegas - $8,000 (50-1)
Normally inconsistent, Vegas has made his past six cuts and 12 of his past 13. He's also four out of five at Deere Run, with a tie for third in 2014. Vegas is one of the big hitters on Tour – ranked 11th in distance – which is a bit of a concern. But he's also ranked 64th in GIR and 55th in birdie average.

Beau Hossler - $7,800 (60-1) 
Hossler is making a late-season charge to keep his card. He's coming off three straight top-25s that have brought him to 144th in the FedEx Cup point standings. His season-long stats stink, but he's shown marked improvement in greens in regulation and ST: Tee-to-Green of late. Hossler finished T25 in his Deere Run debut two years ago.

Sepp Straka - $7,600 (60-1)
Last week was Sepp Straka chalk week for many people, and all they got for their troubles was a Sepp Straka chalk outline on Friday night. He's missed three of his past four cuts, but that includes a top-10 at the Travelers (hence the chalk). He had made six in a row before the recent downturn. He's a better-than-average 63rd in greens in regulation and 50th in birdie average. Straka tied for 26th in maiden visit to Deere Run in 2019.

Nick Taylor - $7,200 (125-1)
Taylor usually finds a way to stick around for the weekend. He's made only 12 of 18 cuts in 2021, but the misses have been in some of the stronger fields. Higher finishes have not been in the cards for him this season, but he is ranked a better-than-average 83rd in birdie average, offering hope of a strong week ahead. Taylor has finished in the 30s in his past two trips to Deer Run in 2018-19.

Long-Shot Values

Adam Schenk - $6,900 (150-1)
Schenk has been stabilizing as the year has progressed – he's made six of his past eight cuts, including last week at Detroit. He's ranked 59th in greens in regulation and 69th in birdie average, and he's even 45th in scrambling. These numbers show Schenk really should be able to make the cut and much more. In 2019, he did that at the Deere in a big way when he tied for sixth.

Roger Sloan - $6,900 (100-1)
Sloan has made four of his past five cuts and last week's T21 was his sixth top-25 of the season. He's ranked an impressive 32nd on Tour in greens in regulation and a pretty-good 67th in birdie average. The Canadian was 10th at Deere Run two years ago and T18 in his only other visit back in 2015.

Robert Streb - $6,700 (125-1)
Streb is much better at making cuts in bad fields than in good ones (shocking, we know). Overall, he's 11 out of 22 but also four out of his past five. He does it with a decent short game, as he's ranked in the top-60 on Tour in both SG: Around-the-Green and Putting. He going to have more birdies than he usually does, but those short-game numbers show it's entirely possible.

Chris Baker - $6,500 (300-1)
Baker ranked an even 500th in the world, which is pretty darn bad, even for someone a Deere field. However, he's coming off three straight made cuts, including a near-miss at top-25 in the U.S. Open (T26). He also had to qualify for the Open. This will be Baker's first trip to the Deere.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Len Hochberg plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DK: Bunker Mentality.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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