We’ve got one last regular tour event before the third major of the year. The John Deere Classic returns to its usual spot on the schedule, right before the Open, as 150+ players will tee things up on one of the most forgiving tracks we’ll see all season. TPC Deere Run is a 7200-7300-yard par 71 that generally plays as one of the easiest venues on tour, where the winners typically get to -20 or better (Ryan Moore won here last year at -22). Part of what makes the track so easy is that it features three very straightforward par 5’s that almost always play as the easiest holes for the week. The weather looks good and the course might even get softened up a bit with some rain so look for some low scores here.
Distance as a general non-factor: As mentioned above the winners here almost always get to -20, but it’s generally not through straight power. Past winners have been in the mold of short hitters like Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth. Generally, players with good approach games who can keep it in play off the tee and give themselves a ton of birdie looks throughout the week are the ones we want to target. Good short games are a general asset here as well. Driving Distance can be put on the shelf stat-wise.
Kevin Kisner ($10,400): Kisner is coming off perhaps his worst start of the year at the Greenbrier where he missed the cut by a couple of shots. The Georgia native hadn’t played since the US Open however so cutting him some slack here is probably the right thing to do. The fact he ranks 10th in SG: Approach and the fact he won earlier in the year at Colonial are signs that TPC Deere Run is right up his alley. Past champs of both the JD Classic and Colonial include Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson. Kisner is quite likely to join that list soon and makes for a great bounce back candidate here in DFS.
Danny Lee ($10,200): Danny Lee has played a lot of golf recently, but he’s continued to play well. While regression may eventually occur at some point, Lee is set up for another big week at a course he finished third at two years ago when coming in with similar form. Lee comes in off his fourth top ten in his last week in seven starts and with great records at other corollary courses. Like Kisner, him winning this week would make a ton of sense, and he makes for a worthy target in DFS as a result.
Ben Martin ($8,300): Martin was the man who failed to chase down Ryan Moore last season, but still ended up finishing a strong solo second. The former winner of the Shriner’s Invitational, is another player who fits the mold of not being long off the tee, but does have a great approach game that gives him a chance at tons of birdies on an easy course like TPC Deere Run. He’s made seven straight cuts now and has been one of the best on tour in approaches over the last month or so.
Others: Kevin Streelman
Kevin Na ($8,000): Na hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire this season but TPC Deere Run is the kind of course that he generally excels at. With his only win coming at the equally easy TPC Summerlin venue in Las Vegas (2011), Na is well suited for a birdie-fest and comes into this week with sneaky good form. Na has now made three straight cuts, and has ranked 8th and 1st in SG: Approach numbers over his last two starts. He was eighth at this event last season and sets up as great value on DK this week.
Chad Campbell ($7,700): Campbell will likely be popular this week but with current form that includes three top 15’s over his last five starts and course history that includes being 8/8 in cuts made at this event, he’s not someone I’d want to fade entirely. Campbell can struggle on the greens but his approach game is still top notch. He makes for an excellent cash game play this week.
Wes Bryan ($7,300): Some might fear the current form of Bryan, but the reality is, he’s only really struggling in one area (off the tee). The rookie sets up perfectly for a course like TPC Deere Run, where wedges, putting and short game all get emphasized over power off the tee. Given his recent driver struggles, making him a tournament play makes sense, but he’s far too cheap given the field strength and how well he sets up for this course so take advantage.
Robert Garrigus ($6,600): Garrigus made my list last week as a low salary value play and he came through with a decent week; which included ranking 8th in SG: Approach. Garrigus generally has a good record at this event with only one missed cut in six attempts and comes in needing another good week here for FedEx cup purposes. With no price increase, and a weak field overall, we should continue to target him on DraftKings until the price goes up.
Others: Curtis Luck
High-upside GPP Picks
Bud Cauley ($8,500): Cauley is coming off a disastrous round two at the Quicken Loans which saw him miss his second cut in three starts. This venue is a better set-up for Cauley however who has flashed great form at other easy courses throughout the year already, including a near miss at the CareerBuilder and the RBC Heritage. While Cauley’s success this week will likely come down to his putter, his approach game is still one of the best in the field and he should have plenty of looks on a course where he finished T8 last year.
Jonathan Randolph ($6,800): Randolph has endured a tough year on tour, but he’s recently started to get more comfortable. A top ten at the Wells Fargo obviously sparked something as he’s now made the cut in three of his last four starts, including back to back top 30 finishes. An improving approach game should also be noted and the generally short hitter should find TPC Deere Run to his liking. He’s good value given his rise in form and will be low owned in gpps.
Roberto Castro ($6,500): Castro finally showed some signs of life last week with a T20 finish, his best of 2017. Castro has generally struggled in all areas this year but the fact he put together three rounds in the 60’s for he first time since 2016 is noticeable. Castro is supremely talented and on a course where length isn’t a factor he could easily keep his good vibes rolling from the Greenbrier here. He is 2/2 in cuts made at the John Deere as well, and at near min-price he’s a great gpp target.
Other: Morgan Hoffmann
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na, Danny Lee, Ben Martin, Chad Campbell, Robert Garrigus, Wes Bryan, Roberto Castro
– Kevin Streelman, Jonathan Randolph, Bud Cauley, Morgan Hoffmann, Curtis Luck
Kevin Na 40-1 EW
Bud Cauley 45-1
Roberto Castro 175-1 EW