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DraftKings PGA: John Deere Classic

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.


JOHN DEERE CLASSIC

Purse: $4.8M
Winner's Share: $864,000
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Silvis, Ill.
Course: TPC Deere Run
Yardage: 7,268
Par: 71
2015 champion: Jordan Spieth



Tournament Preview

In other golf news, the John Deere Classic is being played this week. While golf makes its return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence, the PGA Tour makes its annual trek to the U.S. heartland. While beloved by the fans who patronize TPC Deer Run every year, the tournament is by far the weakest on tour this year, save alternate-field events. With the Games going on in Rio, top names are more sparse than usual. Perennial contender and 2012 champion Zach Johnson is the only one of the OWGR's Top 30 on hand. Johnson, along with fellow Midwesterners Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, are usually in contention while receiving the loudest cheers. But no matter who you are, you better make birdies, and sprinkle in an eagle or two while you're at it. The winning score usually is 20-under or better -- last year, 11 of the 18 holes played under par for the week. In fact, Deere Run is where in 2010 Paul Goydos shot one of the six 59s on record, until last week the lowest score ever on the PGA Tour. That same day, Stricker shot 60. The par-4 14th is a fun, risk/reward hole; it tops out at 358 yards but, heading downhill, is reachable by some in the field. Overall, the course is not especially long or penal off the tee, so that's not really a consideration when determining a lineup. Instead, it's all about getting on the green, getting on the green in the right spots and making a ton of putts. A bogey almost anywhere will be akin to losing two strokes, so someone with a propensity for bogeys, even if he makes a lot of birdies, should be avoided. Weather-wise, it is forecast to be in the 90s on Thursday before dropping into the 80s for the rest of the tournament, with a strong chance of thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday. So first- and second-round tee times may be a difference-maker if you're deciding between two golfers.


Key Stats to Winning at TPC Deere Run

Greens in regulation
Proximity to the hole
Bogey avoidance
Putting average (putts per GIR)



Past Champions

2015 - Jordan Spieth
2014 - Brian Harman
2013 - Jordan Spieth
2012 - Zach Johnson
2011 - Steve Stricker
2010 - Steve Stricker
2009 - Steve Stricker
2008 - Kenny Perrry
2007 - Jonathan Byrd
2006 - John Senden


Champion's Profile:

When a course is a birdie-fest, it often allows weaker golfers into the conversation. TPC Deere Run does not favor the big hitters, so it can really be wide open. And Jordan Spieth, winner two of the past three years, is absent, bringing even more of the field into play. That said, Johnson has to be the overwhelming favorite, having finished in the top three six of the past seven years -- and this year the field will be even weaker. Johnson is not a long hitter, but he's more times than not in the right place on the fairway and the green. Anyone who plays it smart and can putt while avoiding bogeys will do well at TPC Deere Run. Yes, that sounds like the formula to win any golf tournament, but all-or-nothing guys need not apply this week. When we examine putting stats, we really like Putting Average. By focusing on the number of putts per GIR, it disregards chipping close and one-putting, something that can make a golfer look like a better putter than he really is.


DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)


DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Zach Johnson - $13,000 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 7-1)
Steve Stricker - $11,800 (12-1)
Daniel Summerhays $10,600 (20-1)
Kevin Na - $10,500 (20-1)
Gary Woodland - $10,000 (20-1)


DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Jerry Kelly - $9,400 (30-1)
Patrick Rodgers - $8,500 (40-1)
Matt Jones - $8,300 (60-1)
Chris Stroud - $8,200 (60-1)


DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Hudson Swafford - $8,000 (60-1)
Ricky Barnes - $7,900 (80-1)
Retief Goosen - $7,200 (60-1)


DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Luke Guthrie - $6,900 (Field, 9-4)
Sean O'Hair - $6,900 (125-1)
Johnson Wagner - $6,900 (Field, 9-4)
Jason Bohn - $6,600 (100-1)
Luke List - $6,600 (100-1)



MY PICKS THIS WEEK


Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)
Zach Johnson - $13,000
Jerry Kelly - $9,400
Hudson Swafford - $8,000
Jason Bohn - $6,600
Luke List - $6,600
Bud Cauley - $6,300

Very chalky and very safe at the top, with Johnson and Kelly likely to be two of the highest-owned golfers. But with good reason: They perform well at the Deere virtually every year. Kelly is not the best putter, but he's top-10 in bogey avoidance. Further, he is on form after last week's runner-up at the Travelers, and we won't discount the Midwestern crowd support. Swafford makes a lot of birdies, doesn't make many bogeys. Could this be the week he breaks through for his first PGA Tour win? Bohn and List are very nice for the price, especially Bohn. Bohn is a very good putter and we were surprised to see that List is 58th on tour in bogey avoidance. Cauley has been coming back from injury this season, making five of his past six cuts while trying to move into the top 125. Right now, he's 159th. We had only $6,300 to fill the final slot and, candidly, we didn't see anyone we really liked in that price neighborhood. That said: Go get 'em, Bud.


Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Kevin Na - $10,500
Gary Woodland - $10,000
Patrick Rodgers - $8,500
Retief Goosen - $7,200
Sean O'Hair - $6,900
Johnson Wagner - $6,900

Nary a sign of Johnson, Kelly or Steve Stricker here, golfers who have dominated this event. Instead, we turn to Na, who at No. 34 is the second-highest ranked golfer in the field. He has just one recent start at the Deere, but finished 13th. For a long hitter such as Woodland, he doesn't make a ton of bogeys. Yes, he makes a lot of bonehead mistakes and doesn't appear to like playing on Sunday, but that's why he's in the GPP lineup. Rodgers came on last week at the Travelers, so we'll gamble that that supersedes his poor putting overall and three MCs at the Deere in the past four years. Goosen has not played much lately, but he's top-20 on tour in putting average and returned last week to tie for 47th as he presumably is making a push to get into the top 125. He heads into the week at No. 135. O'Hair has missed three of his past four cuts, but is a former Deere champion (long ago in 2005). He's strictly a hunch play, albeit one who is 47th in putting average 62nd on tour in bogey avoidance. Wagner was T5 last year and T7 the year before that, and that's good enough for us. He sits right at 125th in the point standings entering the week, so he has a lot to play for.

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