Before we head to Scotland for The Open Championship, The Tour takes us to Silvis, Illinois for The 2018 John Deere Classic. TPC Deere Run (par 71, 7,268 yards) is the home of this event and has been since the year 2000. Bryson DeChmabeau notched his first PGA win at this track last year, finishing at -18, edging out Patrick Rodgers by one stroke. With the year’s third major only a week away, most of the best players in the world are taking this week off for rest or are already overseas competing, resulting in another poor field of golfers for us to attack. Simply put, TPC Deere Run is a second shot course. The fairways are very easy to hit and it is all about your approach to the green. The last five winners have averaged a very high GIR of 79% in their wins and two of those golfers actually led the field in greens hit. With very friendly fairways, both short and long hitters have found success at TPC Deere Run and I won’t be focusing on off the tee stats when making my picks.
On top of being a strong iron player, above average putters have played well at this venue in the past. Outside of Brian Harman in 2014, all of the last five champs have ranked in the top 25 in average putts per round and we have seen players like Jordan Spieth run away with it here in Illinois when they get hot on these bentgrass greens. So, it’s not usually I something I do, but I will be putting a heavier weight on putting stats this week. Lastly, with this being a par 71, these golfers will now have three par fives to score on, compared to only having two to utilize the last five weeks. As expected, this has made converting birdies and eagles on the par fives pivotal for contending, with all of the last four winners ranking T11 or better in par five scoring, at an average of -9 on these holes. As of right now, the only day that has a legitimate chance of rain is Saturday, so I believe it is safe to assume this will be another birdie fest, with the winner approaching 20 strokes under par. @Hunta512.
Scott Stallings: (7,500)
Last week at The Greenbrier, Stallings led the field in par five scoring and ranked T7 in greens hit, helping him to a T13 finish, which was his fourth top 25 of the season. Now, over his last 12 rounds, he ranks 17th in SGT2G, 9th in SG APP, 31st in BOB%, and last, but not least, 2nd in SG on par fives. (via Fantasy National) The one part of his game that hasn’t been as strong, is his putting. During this span, he ranks 72nd in SGP, but last week was the first time gained strokes on the green in over the month, creating some optimism that his putter could be trending back to the form we saw in the early stages of the season, where he was gaining nearly a full stroke putting in his first ten starts of the year.
Also, at a first glance, Stallings’ record at TPC Deere Run doesn’t look the greatest, at 3/6 in made cuts, but in his last two appearances at this course, he finished T16 in 2016 and then T5 last season. In both of those starts, he hit 79% of the greens and with the way he is striking the ball right now with his irons, we can expect a similar percentage this time around. If his putter doesn’t let him down, Stallings has a shot at finishing in the top 20 at this event for the third year in a row.
Joel Dahmen: (7,600)
In his last seven starts, Dahmen has made five cuts and each of those finishes were top 25s. At The Greenbrier, he posted his best finish of the season, with a T5, where he ranked T3 in GIR, T5 in par five scoring, and converted 20 birdies. His statistical rankings have been elite in these last seven starts, with him ranking 3rd in SGT2G, 1st in SG APP, 9th in GIR, 4th in ball striking, 10th in BOB%, and 1st in SG on par fives. (via Fantasy National) Overall, for his last ten tournaments, he is gaining 3.4 strokes per event. Just like with Stallings, his putter can be a little unpredictable, but he is averaging a decent 29 average putts per round over the last three weeks.
He missed the cut at this stop last season, which was his only attempt at TPC Deere Run, but it’s hard to really use this as a reference, as his game has drastically improved from a year ago. This season, he is 15/22 in made cuts, with eight top 25s, compared to 2017, when he was only 5/11, with two top 25s, up until this point of the year. His great birdie making ability is perfect for this track and if he makes the cut, Dahmen absolutely could finish in the top 20.
Brandon Harkins: (7,300)
Harkins has no history at this course, but he is just too consistent right now to be priced this low. In his last eight starts, he has only missed one cut and has finished no worse than T38th in his last four. In those four tournaments, he is gaining an average of 3.2 strokes total per start, ranks 4th in BOB%, and 10th in SGP. (via Fantasy National) The finishes haven’t been that high, but with his game improving almost every week, it feels like we will see a high finish from Harkins very soon.
He is clearly capable of it, as he finished in the top 25 in five of his first six events of the season. At only $7,300, right now is the perfect time to attack Harkins in this soft field at The John Deere Classic.
CT Pan: (7,700) Six for his last seven cuts, including three top 20s. Has never played here, but still is getting plenty of respect from Vegas, with him currently sitting at 66/1 odds to win.
Andrew Putnam: (7,600) After being very chalky last week and missing the cut, Putnam should naturally come with a decently low ownership this week (9-12% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), especially when you factor in that his only start at TPC Deere Run is a MC, back in 2015. But, before last week, Putnam was playing excellent golf, making seven of his last eight cuts, with three top tens. In his last 24 rounds, he is the number one par four player and is 4th in BOB%. (via Fantasy National)
JT Poston: (7,400) Has made the cut in nine of his last 11 events. He is gaining 2.3 strokes in his last five tournaments, including 1.9 strokes gained putting. Also, out of all the green types, he is at his best on bentgrass this season. He made the cut here ago (T64), which was his first and only try at a John Deere. In this current form, I am expecting a much better finish from Poston this season.
Tyler Duncan: (7,600) Is just too cheap for the fact that he has now made seven straight cuts. Furthermore, he is 9th in SGT2G, 6th in GiR, and 8th in ball striking in his last 12 rounds. (via Fantasy National)
Vaughn Taylor: (6,900) Never going to be a player that jumps off the page statistically, but he is 13 for his last 17 cuts and seven for 11 at this venue, including a T19 just last season. Taylor one of the better risks priced under $7,000 this week.