PGA: Hot Picks for the John Deere Classic

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The PGA Tour shifts to Silvis, Illinois for the 2021 John Deere Classic and one final tune-up on American soil before The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England. Last week, Cameron Davis prevailed over Troy Merritt and Joaquin Niemann after five playoff holes to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

The field this week is as weak as you will see on the PGA Tour all season long with a major championship looming next week and most of the big names playing overseas in the Scottish Open to get reacquainted with links golf.

The John Deere Classic makes its return to the Tour schedule after being cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020. Despite a light field, plenty of players are using this event as a final tune-up for The Open Championship. The reigning champion is Dylan Fritelli, who held off Russell Henley in 2019 to win by two strokes with a score of 21-under.

Course Breakdown and Weather

The John Deere Classic takes place at TPC Deere Run and it rarely provides much of a formidable challenge for the field. TPC Deere Run measures out to just over 7,200 yards as a par 71. Since 2009, every winner here has reached at least 18-under. The key to winning this tournament is hitting greens and getting hot with the putter. The fairways are wide open, which makes scrambling not as much an important factor because if someone is not finding greens in regulation, they are not going to be scoring well enough to win a birdie-fest.

The profile for past winners has been similar with small hitters such as Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Brian Harma, and Ryan Moore all owning wins here in the last 10 years. All of them find the fairway, keep the ball in play, and are typically solid with their putters.

Please Note:
Weather likely will be a factor this week with rain storms expected on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Do not be surprised if lift, clean, and place is put into effect for at least one of the rounds, which will allow the course to play even easier. The wind will not be a factor the first two rounds, but it is expected to be around 10-15 miles per hour for the weekend rounds to make things interesting for all contenders.

The Favorites

The favorite this week is Daniel Berger (+1100), who already owns a win this season at Pebble Beach. Berger can very easily win this tournament, but with a major championship next week it is not worth taking the favorite at a tournament like this. Harman (+1400), Sungjae Im (+1800) and Henley (+2000) are next in line on the odds board, all of which are capable of winning this week.

But the first golfer worth a bet this week is Kevin Streelman (+2500).
Streelman has the style of play that suits this golf course really well and it has been on display previously with two career top-10 finishes here at TPC Deere Run. At 25-1, he is worth a bet to find victory this week in Illinois.

Next up is last week’s winner Cameron Davis (+2800), who sees his odds plummet after earning his first PGA Tour win. But considering the physical and mental effort he needed to muster to win after five playoff holes last week, there is little reason to believe Davis can contend to win back-to-back tournaments. Streelman,is the strongest play here.

Bovada Pick
Kevin Streelman

Best Value Plays

The first worthwhile wager in the middle tier is Maverick McNealy (+4000). The Stanford alum has two top-five finishes this season, including a runner-up finish to none other than Berger at Pebble Beach. He ranks 41st in strokes gained off the tee, which has led to him ranking 34th in birdie average this season. McNealy should benefit greatly from the weaker field and he is just a hot putter away from finding his first PGA Tour victory.

The next golfer worth a bet is Hank Lebioda (+5000).
Lebioda has finished inside the top five in each of his last two starts, including a tie for fourth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last weekend. He has become somewhat of a short-course stud over the past two seasons.

He ranks inside the top 50 in both strokes gained on approach and strokes gained putting. Both of those metrics will lead to success at the John Deere Classic this week, and at 50-1 he is the best bet – even better than McNealy because of the longer odds — to take in the middle tier.

Bovada Pick
Maverick McNealy
Hank Lebioda

The Longshot

The best longshot bet of the week is Satoshi Kodaira (+12500). Kodaira has not gained any respect from the betting market despite playing very well over the last two months.

Please Note:
Prior to a missed cut at the Rocket Mortgage last week, his previous four finishes were 36th, 19th, 13th and 11th, respectively. He won the 2018 RBC Heritage, so there is no doubt that he is capable of winning on the PGA Tour.

He has found himself near the top of the leaderboard far too much recently to not take a flyer on at 125-1.

Bovada Pick
Satoshi Kodaira

Top-10 Play of the Week

The best top-10 play of the week is for Roger Sloan to find himself in contention on Sunday afternoon. Sloan finished tied for 21st last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and owns four top-25 finishes in his previous 10 starts. He has played in this event twice and owns finishes of 10th and 18th, respectively. At 11-1, there is no reason not to bet on Sloan to collect his second top-10 finish here in his last three starts at TPC Deere Run.

Bovada Pick
Roger Sloan Top-Ten Finish

Matchup Play of the Week

The matchup play of the week is Patton Kizzire (+100) to finish ahead of Merritt at the John Deere Classic. Kizzire has moved up from 236th to 106th place in the Official World Golf Rankings this season and he is continuing to trend in the right direction.

Please Note:
He owns five top-10 finishes already in 2021 and this field sets up perfectly for him to be right around the top 10 again this week. Merritt finished as the runner-up last week after losing on the fifth playoff hole to Cameron Davis.

He heads into this week as mentally exhausted as a golfer can be after playing 77 holes of golf last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Kizzire should be right there at the end of the tournament and Merritt will likely either miss the cut or finish outside the top 40.

Betonline Pick
Patton Kizzire Over Troy Merritt

*Odds courtesy of BetOnline and Bovada.

Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.

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