The inaugural 3M Open provided the kind of finish that golf punters and viewers alike treasure. The well-backed pairing of Adam Hadwin and Wyndham Clark, along with Bryson DeChambeau, taking on the young guns in the form of freshly turned professionals Collin Morikawa and eventual winner Matthew Wolff was stirring stuff from start to finish, with both Morikawa and Wolff marking our cards for the potential they both hold in bucketloads. Hadwin’s birdie on the risk/reward par-5 18th, plus DeChambeau’s amazing eagle, were the aperitif for Wolff’s amazing eagle retort, which placed a dagger to his opponents chances. It’s clear that Matthew is a very special talent and if you were on board at anything up to 175/1 last week then huge congratulations. DeChambeau showed fight and determination and delivered a full 16/1 each-way place for this column – but it could have been so much better!
The John Deere Classic is the traditional stateside Open Championship warm-up and always presents an interesting challenge for keen golf punters. Never the strongest field-wise, the event is still worth a full 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner and comes with the standard 2-year PGA Tour exemption so it’s a prize well worth taking. Played at the extremely low-scoring TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, the real skill is to work through which players have the motivation and skill-sets required to produce a birdie barrage around the accommodating D.A.Weibring Par 71 design. With the final PGA Tour Open Championship spot available this week to the leading non-qualified player who finishes in the top 5 or ties, competition should be fierce in a tournament that always provokes keen interest for those brought up in America’s Midwest..
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Course Guide: TPC Deere Run is a drag-strip of a Par 71 where you’d better make birdies or pack your bags come Friday evening. Ryan Moore, Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman all managed an eagle or 3 (always a bonus) and 21/22 birdies respectively when winning here, whilst defending champion Michael Kim, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson and Spieth again made 30, 24, 24 and 25 birdies respectively when enjoying their successes since 2012. A minimum 1-in-3 birdie or better conversion is traditionally required to get the job done at the John Deere Classic with the course giving chances to both the shortest and longest players. It’s also abundantly clear that the tournament eventually boils down to a putting contest where a sub-1.7 Putts per GIR performance is required if a player wants to be in the Sunday afternoon mix.
TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Illinois: Designer: D.A. Weibring 1999, with PGA Tour Design renovation 2006/07; Course Type: Resort; Par: 71; Length: 7,268 yards; Water Hazards: 3; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with Fine Fescue 4″; Greens: 6,000 sq.ft average featuring L-93 Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 69.55 (-1.45), Difficulty Rank 42 of 49 courses. 2013: 69.40 (-1.60), Difficulty Rank 36 of 43 courses. 2014: 69.76 (-1.26), Rank 42 of 48 courses. 2015: 69.65 (-1.35), Rank 43 of 52 courses. 2016: 69.90 (-1.10), Rank 39 of 50 courses. 2017: 69.75 (-1.25), Rank 38 of 50 courses. 2018: 69.38 (-1.62), Rank 46 of 51 courses.
Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for TPC Deere Run and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:
- TPC Deere Run: 250 yards from tee: 41 yards wide; 275:40; 300:36 325:33; 350:30.
- TPC Twin Cities: 250 yards from tee: 38 yards wide; 275:38; 300:31 325:30; 350:36.
- Detroit Golf Club: 250 yards from tee: 34 yards wide; 275:34; 300:35 325:34; 350:33.
- TPC River Highlands: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:35; 300:28; 325:28; 350:27.
- Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30; 350:26.
- Hamilton: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:29; 325:27; 350:28.
- Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:35; 300:30; 325:26; 350:30.
- Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:25; 300:26; 325:25; 350:22.
- Trinity Forest: 250 yards from tee: 58 yards wide; 275:54; 300:56; 325:60; 350:57.
- Quail Hollow: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:32; 300:31; 325:30; 350:29.
- Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 31 yards wide; 275:25; 300:20; 325:26; 350:22.
Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other D.A. Weibring designs include:
- TPC Four Seasons – AT&T Byron Nelson till 2017
Course Overview: TPC Deere Run is a course that’s extremely scoreable for those players who love to manage their way strategically around a golf course rather than dominate it. With fairways that are easy to hit and receptive 6,000 sq.ft average Bentgrass green complexes to aim at, scoring is correspondingly low. Deere Run is a course that offers up opportunities for bombers like Jhonattan Vegas, Patrick Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau or plotters like Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore and Wesley Bryan. The key this week will ultimately be a hot putter and minimising bogeys which is always the case on resort-level scoring tests.
Despite playing slightly tougher in 2014, 11 holes still played under par across the tournament, whilst 2015 saw 13 holes, with 12 holes under across the past 3 renewals. It’s worth noting that no course rookie has won the tournament since Sean O’Hair in 2005. Post-cut scoring increases slightly with more difficult pin positions and those with prior knowledge of this event know where those weekend holes will be cut and, more importantly, where to position off the tee to access them.
TPC Deere Run is a track that rewards consistency as bogeys in any great volume will cost a player any chance of victory. Fairways are wide for the length of course and 2 of the par-5s (2nd and 17th) are reachable for the whole field. As you’d expect, green complexes run pure and aren’t overly taxing. The tournament tends to be won by excellent putters who can find enough greens and hit the ball close enough to the pin so as to create enough birdie chances. Saying that ball-striker extraordinaire Bryson DeChambeau won this in 2017, entering the tournament ranked 195th in Strokes Gained Putting. Another angle to explore this week is to find players who are comfortable on par-3s as TPC Deere Run’s set of short holes yields plenty of birdies (2nd, 4th and 4th highest in 2016/2017/2018) each and every renewal.
Winners: 2018: Michael Kim (-27); 2017: Bryson DeChambeau (-18); 2016: Ryan Moore (-22); 2015: Jordan Spieth (-20); 2014: Brian Harman (-22); 2013: Jordan Spieth (-19); 2012: Zach Johnson (-20); 2011: Steve Stricker (-22); 2010: Steve Sticker (-26).
Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats.
Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Wyndham Clark, Ryan Moore, Brian Harman, Troy Merritt, Sungjae Im, Vaughn Taylor, Ryan Palmer, Cameron Tringale, Charles Howell III and Zach Johnson.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the PGA Championship, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
- Top 20 Driving Accuracy: 1) Ryan Armour; 2) Ryan Armour; 3) Jim Herman; 4) Scott Langley / Kyle Stanley; 6) Adam Svensson; 7) Brian Stuard; 8) Viktor Hovland; 9) Austin Cook; 10) Roberto Diaz / Jason Dufner / Russell Henley; 13) Brice Garnett / Johnson Wagner; 15) Ben Crane / Bill Haas / Adam Long / Boo Weekley; 20) Zach Johnson / Denny McCarthy / Michael Thompson.
- Top 20 Greens in Regulation: 1) Corey Conners; 2) Kevin Streelman; 3) Jason Dufner; 4) Cameron Tringale; 5) Adam Svensson; 6) Viktor Hovland / Kyle Stanley / Robert Streb; 9) Martin Laird; 10) Joaquin Niemann; 11) Collin Morikawa / Alex Prugh / Sepp Straka / Nick Watney; 15) Brice Garnett / Kevin Tway; 17) Josh Teater; 18) Tyler Duncan / Sam Ryder; 20) J.T. Poston / Nick Taylor.
- Top 20 Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Doc Redman; 2) Andres Romero; 3) Jonathan Byrd / Wyndham Clark; 5) Dominic Bozzelli; 6) Collin Morikawa / Roger Sloan; 8) Danny Lee; 9) Brady Schnell; 10) Sangmoon Bae / Ryan Moore; 12) Beau Hossler / Harold Varner III; 14) Denny McCarthy; 15) Vaughn Taylor; 16) Joel Dahmen; 17) Scott Langley; 18) Chad Collins; 19) Tim Herron; 20) Brice Garnett.
Winners & Prices: 2018: Michael Kim 300/1; 2017: DeChambeau 50/1; 2016: Moore 25/1; 2015: Spieth 4/1; 2014: Harman 125/1; 2013: Spieth 40/1; 2012: Zach Johnson 12/1; 2011: Stricker 7/1; 2010: Stricker 16/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 101/1; Overall Average: 64/1.
- 2018: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 91. Wind S 10-15 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy, with isolated showers and thunderstorms. High of 87. Wind SE 5-10 mph. Due to inclement weather, round two was suspended from 5:49 p.m. until 6:40 p.m. Due to additional storms, play was suspended for the day at 7:26 p.m. Saturday: Due to expected inclement weather in the afternoon, third-round tee times took place from 9:20 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in threesomes off tee Nos. 1 and 10. Due to a dangerous weather situation, round three was suspended from 10:38 a.m. until 1:11 p.m. Play was again suspended at 5:53 p.m. and resumed at 7:12 p.m. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High of 88. W SSE 4-8 mph.
- 2017: Thursday: Partly sunny with a high of 83. Wind WNW 8-15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 77. Wind NW 7-12 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high of 83. Wind WSW 5-10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy with a high of 83. Wind NE 8-15 mph.
- 2016: Thursday: Overcast, with afternoon thunderstorms. Friday: High of 82. Wind NNW at 8-15 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy, becoming partly cloudy with a high of 82. Wind NW at 8-15 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 82. Wind W at 5-10 mph.
- 2015: Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 75. Winds variable at 5-10 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 81. Wind SE at 8-15 mph. Saturday: Overcast, with rain and lightning in the morning. Partly cloudy in the afternoon. High of 81. Wind SE at 6-12 mph. Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high of 87. Wind SE at 6-12 mph.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Silvis, Illinois, is here. Turf conditions should be on the lush side after 42mm on rain last week and tournament organisers never shy away from making sure that the greens are receptive and perfect for generating eagles and birdies. But whether we see scoring as rampant as -27/257 this year, is doubtful I think as 15mph breezes on Thursday and up to 20 mph on Saturday will take the edge of it, but only slightly. The tournament looks dry and especially humid on Sunday, with weekend temperatures approaching 30 degrees Celsius.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 9 winners at TPC Deere Run since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:
- 2018, Michael Kim (-27). 295 yards (27th), 82.1% fairways (2nd), 83.3% greens in regulation (3rd), 24’11” proximity to hole (1st), 83.3% scrambling (1st), 1.53 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2017, Bryson DeChambeau (-17). 302 yards (21st), 75.0% fairways (32nd), 79.2% greens in regulation (11th), proximity to hole 30’7″ (13th), 66.7 % scrambling (29th), 1.65 putts per GIR (10th).
- 2016, Ryan Moore (-22). 289 yards (34th), 82.1% fairways (12th), 83.3% greens in regulation (1st), proximity to hole 27’0″ (2nd), 91.1 % scrambling (1st), 1.67 putts per GIR (6th).
- 2015, Jordan Spieth (-20). 284 yards (17th), 69.6% fairways (60th), 72.2% greens in regulation (33rd), proximity to hole 28’9″ (16th), 65.0 % scrambling (32nd), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2014, Brian Harman (-22). 303 yards (18th), 80.4% fairways (8th), 87.5% greens in regulation (1st), proximity to hole 23’3″ (2nd), 66.7 % scrambling (29th), 1.70 putts per GIR (31st).
- 2013, Jordan Spieth (-19). 318 yards (14th), 76.8% fairways (19th), 72.2% greens in regulation (34th), proximity to hole 34’1″ (56th), 70.0% scrambling (18th), 1.62 putts per GIR (8th).
- 2012, Zach Johnson (-20). 293 yards (47th), 73.2% fairways (34th), 75.0% greens in regulation (26th), proximity to hole 29’7″ (16th), 77.8% scrambling (2nd), 1.61 putts per GIR (4th).
- 2011, Steve Sticker (-22). 318 yards (12th), 64.3% fairways (62nd), 73.6% greens in regulation (33rd), proximity to hole 30’2″ (15th), 78.9% scrambling (2nd), 1.55 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2010, Steve Stricker (-26). 292 yards (32nd), 73.2% fairways (34th), 80.6% greens in regulation (11th), proximity to hole 26’5″ (5th), 64.3% scrambling (24th), 1.53 putts per GIR (1st).
Tournament Skill Average:
- Driving Distance: 25th, Driving Accuracy: 29th, Greens in Regulation: 17th, Proximity to Hole: 14th, Scrambling: 15th, Putting Average 7th.
Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:
- 2018, Michael Kim (-27). SG Off the Tee: 34th, SG Approach: 11th, SG Around the Green: 47th, SG Tee to Green: 16th, SG Putting: 1st.
- 2017, Bryson DeChambeau (-18). SG Off the Tee: 17th, SG Approach: 27th, SG Around the Green: 38th, SG Tee to Green: 18th, SG Putting: 2nd.
- 2016, Ryan Moore (-22). SG Off the Tee: 23rd, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 32nd, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 8th.
Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:
- SG Off the Tee: 25th, SG Approach: 13th, SG Around the Green: 39th, SG Tee to Green: 12th, SG Putting: 4th.
Let’s take a view from players as to how TPC Deere Run sets up and what skill sets the course favours:
Michael Kim (2018): You know, I’ve been really comfortable on the course the last couple years, and if you look at kind of the guys that have done well here going back, guys like Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, you know, guys that don’t necessarily bomb the ball, but with good wedge game and putting they can do good out here. So kind of along that same mould. Greens are great. They’re soft, they’re rolling true, and they’re bent greens, so you just got to hit it on your line.”
Bryson DeChambeau (2017): “Yeah, you got to be hitting your wedges really close. If you can do that all week, you’ll be just fine. If you can make pars on the tough par-3s and hit it on the fairway, like on 15 every day, land it on the green, two-putt, make your par, get out of there, I think you have a very good chance of playing well here. I have always liked short par 4s. My favourite is No. 9 at Cypress. It’s definitely a cool little short par-4; drivable. A lot of risk/reward in it. I think D.A.’s (Weibring) done a great job with 14, as well as 17. Definitely risk/reward holes that if you execute shots well you’re going to get rewarded. That’s the epitome of golf, right? Executing a shot, having it end up beautifully, even though sometimes you can get a bad break, right? So you could hit a beautiful shot on 14 and get absolutely into the worst place possible. Like if you pull it just a little bit on 14 and get on the down slope in the rough to the short left pin you’re toast. You’ve got to know where to miss it on those holes. I think he’s designed it very, very well.”
Ryan Moore (2016): “It’s a course I’ve really grown to like over the years. I played it early in my career, and I took a few years kind of off in the middle, and when I came back and started playing it again, I don’t know, I appreciated it more for some reason or another. Maybe I’ve learned over the years the type of golf courses that are good for me and that set up well for me, and this is definitely one of them. The golf course has enough angles, and the holes that you can force it down there a little bit farther, they’re pretty difficult tee shots, so guys that hit it significantly farther than me don’t have a huge advantage on a golf course like this.
Yeah, I think that’s part of the success. I enjoy the course. I like bent greens a lot. These are honestly some of the best we putt on every single year, and they’re probably the best I’ve ever seen them this year. They’re fantastic.”
Zach Johnson: “I think starting on 14, you’ve got often times a reachable par 4, a birdie hole, but a hole that if you’re just a little bit off, a bogey hole. 15 is a really good par 4. Obviously 16 assuming it’s one of the signature holes here if not the signature hole, great little par 3. A birdieable, maybe even eagle hole on 17, and then a brutal but fair 18th hole with a lot of opportunity and I would say treachery around the corner. It’s just because of the character of the last five holes here, I think. I don’t want to equate it to another golf course, but I look at I’m not saying we’re going to have seven straight birdies to finish, but if you look at TPC River Highlands, it’s kind of got that sort of ingredient, where you have a reachable par 5, you’ve got a short par 4, a par 3, a lot of water, and just holes that you can either go really, really low or it can really bite you, and I think that’s why you see a little bit of movement and guys just kind of bunching up at the end.”
D.A. Points: “Again, for lack of a better term, it’s a putting contest and that’s why Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson win a lot because they make everything. I shoot under par every time I come here; it’s just not under par enough to see the weekend.”
Keegan Bradley: “Yeah, you really need to be ready to go from the first tee to the last, because you’re going to have to make a bunch of birdies on this course this week to contend, but most importantly, you’ve got to hit the ball on these fairways. They are generous fairways, but if you do hit the ball in the fairway, you’re going to be able to basically attack every pin position right now because of the softness.”
Steve Stricker: “Winning score? Depends on the weather, I guess. I mean, there’s just a lot of good birdie opportunities out there, par-5s, some of them are reachable. For everybody, two of them are reachable, two out of the three. And there’s a lot of short irons in your hand where you can make some birdies. And then the holes you’ve got to pay attention on, you make your pars and move on. But yeah, it’ll be pushing that 20 number, I’m sure. The greens are pure.”
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 9 winners of the John Deere Classic:
- 2018 – Michael Kim: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2017 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 8th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 5th.
- 2016 – Ryan Moore: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 101st, Round 2: 16th, Round 3: 1st.
- 2014 – Brian Harman: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
- 2013 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 64th, Round 2: 19th, Round 3: 9th.
- 2012 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 39th, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 3rd.
- 2011 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
- 2010 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 John Deere Classic winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:
- 2018 – Michael Kim: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 ahead, Round 3: 5 ahead.
- 2017 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 4 back.
- 2016 – Ryan Moore: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 ahead.
- 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 8 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 2 ahead.
- 2014 – Brian Harman: Round 1: level, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
- 2013 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 6 back.
- 2012 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 4 back.
- 2011 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 2 ahead.
- 2010 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 6 ahead.
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
- Michael Kim: MC Greenbrier/MC National/MC Travelers/18th St Jude.
- Bryson DeChambeau: 14th Greenbrier/17th National/26th Travelers/MC US Open.
- Ryan Moore: 17th Travelers/70th PGA/46th Open/32nd US Open.
- Jordan Spieth: 1st US Open/3rd Memorial/30th TPC4S/2nd Colonial.
- Brian Harman: MC Greenbrier/MC AT&T National/42nd Travelers/6th St Jude.
- Jordan Spieth: 23rd Greenbrier/6th AT&T National/MC US Open/63rd Memorial.
- Zach Johnson: 64th Travelers/41st US Open/MC St Jude/1st Colonial.
- Steve Stricker: 19th US Open/1st Memorial/12th TPC Sawgrass/13th New Orleans.
- Steve Stricker: 58th US Open/17th Memorial/38th Colonial/30th Masters.
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.
- 2018 – Wheatcroft – AM -9/62 – 175/1.
- 2017 – Howell III/Schniederjans – AM/PM Split -8/63 – 45/1 & 95/1
- 2016 – Gillis/Loupe – Both PM -7/64.
- 2015 – Thomas/N Thompson – AM/PM Split -8/63.
- 2014 – Harman/Z Johnson/Sabbatini – All AM -8/63.
- 2013 – Z Johnson / Villegas – Both AM -7/64.
- 2012 – Matteson – PM -10/61.
- 2011 – Blanks – PM -8/63.
- 2010 – Goydos – AM -12/59.
For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
- 5 – Zach Johnson.
- 3 – Ryan Moore.
- 2 – Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover, Brian Harman, Troy Merritt, Jhonattan Vegas.
- 1 – Arjun Atwal, Sangmoon Bae, Jonathan Byrd, Luke Donald, Bill Haas, Billy Hurley III, Freddie Jacobson, Smylie Kaufman, Michael Kim, Martin Laird, Danny Lee, David Lingmerth, Hunter Mahan, Ted Potter Jnr, Rory Sabbatini, Kyle Stanley, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Brendon Todd, Nick Watney, Boo Weekley, Matthew Wolff.
Recent winning totals of -16, -20, -26, -22, -20, -19, -22, -20, -22, -18 and -27 highlight that the key to success in Illinois is two-fold: make copious amounts of birdies and minimise dropped shots. It’s not rocket science, but as 2019 highlighted, finding the winner here is not always easy. Picking out Michael Kim 12 months ago at 300/1 with form-in of MC/MC/MC highlights the volatility we’re dealing with at the John Deere Classic with field quality falling year-on-year. This is golf and freak results happen as a matter of course.
Dig a little deeper and there might be a trend worth pursuing. Across the 4 renewals from 2014 through 2017, Bryson DeChambeau, Ryan Moore, Jordan Spieth and Brian Harman entered the tournament in the top 90 of birdie-makers. That’s ok, but effectively only top third on Tour. Look at Bogey Avoidance and those ranks correlate to 9th (Spieth 2013), 27th (Harman), 3rd (Spieth 2015), 90th (Moore 2016) and 139th (DeChambeau 2017). Bryson’s number from last year is certainly an outlier, where the season-long number was based upon a terrible start to 2017 where he’d missed 12 cuts with a new putting style. However you can see the requirement for players to be balanced in being able to attack but keep the card clean on tough par-4s like the 9th, 15th and certainly the 18th which traditionally plays as the hardest on the course.
It won’t surprise in a tournament where 4 straight rounds of 66 is the target that streaky scorers dominate the contending positions. Michael, Ryan, Jordan, Zach and ‘Mr John Deere’ Steve Stricker are all excellent putters, but equally ball-strikers can contend and occasionally win. Bryson DeChambeau, Sean O’Hair, Jhonattan Vegas, John Senden, Troy Matteson and Kyle Stanley are hardly outstanding when it comes to the flat stick, but excellent close approach play on enough holes can generate the volume of close birdie opportunities required to feature. Tour maidens like O’Hair, Senden, Brian Harman, Bryson DeChambeau, Michael Kim and famously Jordan Spieth have captured their first titles in this event, but in recent times course experience has been absolutely key to get over the finish line.
My selections are as follows: