Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's John Deere Classic Tips 2021

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Congratulations if you were on-board with Cam Davis last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, with 125/1 prices available on Monday.  Undoubtedly an exciting tournament with 3 shots separating the top 12 on the leaderboard and a 3 player play-off to boot. We snatched an each-way piece of Seamus Power at 80/1 and the hunt continues for winners as we move towards the close of the season.

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. Competition here for a potentially life-changing win is always fierce and the tournament always provokes keen interest for those brought up in America’s Midwest.

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With the Open Championship just a week away, my 2021 Open Tips Research Preview is available for you to read.

Before we go into the detail surrounding the John Deere Classic, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System, Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, 5,900+ strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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 Dylan Frittelli, Michael Kim, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson and Spieth again made 22, 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; Number of Holes with Water In-Play: 3; Fairways: Southshore Bentgrass; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass with Fine Fescue 4″; Greens: 5,500 sq.ft average featuring L-93 Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11.5ft; 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. 2019: 69.51 (-1.49), Rank 35 of 49 courses.

Fairway 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.
  • 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: 38 yards wide; 275:36; 300:29; 325:29; 350:28.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • Ocean Course – Kiawah Island: Up to 50 yards wide.
  • Quail Hollow: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:32; 300:31; 325:30; 350:29.
  • Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:22; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Oaks Course: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:29; 325:27; 350:26.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.

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 sized 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. Since then 12 holes all played under par – incredible stuff when you think about it. 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. Saying that Sean O’Hair (2005) and Dylan Frittelli (2019) won this on course debut.

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 yield plenty of birdies each and every renewal.

john deere classic tips

Winners: 2019: Dylan Frittelli (-21); 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).

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2019: Round 1 -9; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -21.
  • 2018: Round 1 -9; Round 2 -15; Round 3 -22; Round 4 -27.

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 | Combined Stats | SG 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 pat Perez, Daniel Berger, Brian Harman, Sungjae Im, Russell Henley, Beau Hossler, Hank Lebioda, Troy Merritt, Patton Kizzire and Seamus Power.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to Byron Nelson / British Masters, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Steve Stricker; 2) Ryan Armour / Chez Reavie; 4) John Senden; 5) Jim Herman / Brian Stuard; 7) Andrew Landry / Kyle Stanley; 9) Mito Pereira; 10) Satoshi Kodaira; 11) Brian Harman; 12) Sungjae Im / J.J. Spaun; 14) Kevin Streelman; 15) Henrik Norlander; 16) David Hearn; 17) Doug Ghim; 18) Kramer Hickok; 19) Mark Hubbard; 20) Charlie Beljan / Ryan Blaum / Michael Thompson; 23) Austin Cook; 24) Pat Perez; 25) John Huh / David Lingmerth.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Jhonattan Vegas; 3) Kevin Streelman; 4) Bill Haas; 5) Russell Henley / Beau Hossler / Luke List / C.T. Pan / Martin Laird; 10)  Kyle Stanley; 11) Jim Herman / Bo Hoag; 13) Sungjae Im; 14) Kramer Hickok / Maverick McNealy; 16) Robert Streb; 17) Doug Ghim; 18) Henrik Norlander; 19) Seamus Power; 20) Ryan Armour; 21) Hank Lebioda; 22) Joseph Bramlett / Cam Davis / Michael Gellerman / Danny Lee.
  • Scrambling: 1) Brian Harman; 2) Hank Lebioda; 3) Jonathan Byrd; 4) Rob Oppenheim; 5) Kevin Streelman; 6) Seamus Power; 7) Rhein Gibson; 8) Chesson Hadley / Doc Redman; 10) Bill Haas; 11) David Hearn / Sung Kang; 13) Alex Noren / Sean O’Hair; 15) Byeong Hun An; 16) Chez Reavie; 17) Mark Hubbard / Steve Stricker; 19) Michael Thompson; 20) Charlie Beljan; 21) Brian Stuard; 22) Zach Johnson; 23) Scott Harrington / Robby Shelton / Robert Streb.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Satoshi Kodaira; 2) Dominic Bozzelli; 3) Brandon Hagy; 4) Cam Davis; 5) Steve Sticker; 6) Mark Anderson / Lucas Glover / Seamus Power / Vincent Whaley; 10) Hank Lebioda; 11) Troy Merritt; 12) Aaron Baddeley / Denny McCarthy; 14) Aaron Wise; 15) Jim Herman / Patton Kizzire; 17) K.J. Choi; 18) Adam Long; 19) Andrew Landry; 20) Michael Gellerman / Anirban Lahiri; 22) Ryan Moore / Sebastian Munoz; 24) Johnson Wagner; 25) Pat Perez.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Byron Nelson / British Masters, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Jhonattan Vegas; 2) Maverick McNealy; 3) Mito Pereira; 4) Tom Lewis; 5) Alex Noren; 6) Joseph Bramlett; 7) Charlie Beljan / Kyle Stanley; 9) Charles Howell III / Patrick Rodgers; 11) Andres Romero; 12) Jim Herman; 13) Cameron Champ; 14) Kramer Hickok / Aaron Wise; 16) Daniel Berger / Lucas Glover / Scott Piercy / Vincent Whaley; 20) Adam Schenk / Steve Stricker; 22) Brian Harman / J.J. Spaun; 24) Beau Hossler / Henrik Norlander.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Kyle Stanley / Steve Stricker; 4) Seamus Power; 5) Russell Henley; 6) Doc Redman; 7) Henrik Norlander; 8) Jhonattan Vegas; 9) Kevin Streelman / Aaron Wise; 11) Chez Reavie; 12) Scott Stallings; 13) Cameron Percy; 14) Scott Brown; 15) Cameron Davis / Brian Harman; 17) Michael Gellerman / Scott Piercy; 19) Sungjae Im; 20) Bo Hoag; 21) Ryan Armour / Nelson Ledesma / Matthew NeSmith / Camilo Villegas; 25) Bill Haas / Andrew Putnam.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Hank Lebioda; 2) Roger Sloan; 3) Alex Noren; 4) Aaron Baddeley / Seamus Power; 6) Robby Shelton; 7) Kevin Tway; 8) D.A. Points; 9) Kevin Na; 10) Sungjae Im / Camilo Villegas; 12) Brian Harman; 13) Kramer Hickok; 14) Bill Haas / Kevin Streelman / Steve Sticker / Aaron Wise; 18) Troy Merritt; 19) Michael Thompson; 20) David Hearn / Zach Johnson / Andres Romero; 23) John Senden / Robert Streb; 25) Brandon Hagy / Brian Stuard.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Seamus Power; 2) Kyle Stanley; 3) Steve Sticker; 4) Jhonattan Vegas; 5) Aaron Wise; 6) Daniel Berger / Brian Harman; 8) Hank Lebioda / Kevin Streelman; 10) Chez Reavie; 11) Sungjae Im; 12) Alex Noren; 13) Ryan Armour; 14) Russell Henley / Beau Hossler; 16) Maverick McNealy; 17) Joseph Bramlett; 18) Si Woo Kim / Camilo Villegas; 20) Doug Ghim; 21) Henrik Norlander; 22) Martin Laird; 23) Luke List / Scott Piercy / Patrick Rodgers / Harold Varner III.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Hank Lebioda; 2) Satoshi Kodaira; 3) Troy Merritt; 4) Rhein Gibson; 5) Richard S Johnson; 6) Cameron Davis; 7) Dominic Bozzelli; 8) Kris Ventura; 9) Hunter Mahan / Denny McCarthy / Seamus Power / Robert Streb; 13) Alex Noren; 14) Jim Herman; 15) Harrison Frazer / Patton Kizzire; 17) Lucas Glover / Adam Long; 19) Austin Cook / Pat Perez / Richy Werenski; 22) Kevin Streelman; 23) Mark Hubbard; 24) Michael Gligic / Sepp Straka.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Hank Lebioda  / Seamus Power; 3) Brian Harman / Kevin Streelman; 5) Alex Noren; 6) Daniel Berger; 7) Sungjae Im; 8) Troy Merritt / Kyle Stanley; 10) Satoshi Kodaira / Maverick McNealy; 12) Chez Reavie; 13) Pat Perez; 14) Beau Hossler / Steve Stricker; 16) Aaron Wise; 17) Russell Henley / Jhonattan Vegas; 19) Kramer Hickok; 20) Ryan Armour / C.T. Pan; 22) Lucas Glover / Patton Kizzire / Doc Redman / Robert Streb.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Frittelli 90/1; 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. Last 6 Renewals 99/1; Overall Average: 67/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 83. Wind N 8-15 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 87. Wind SW 5-10 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 90. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 92. Wind S/SSW 6-12 mph.
  • 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.

Thunderstorms are always a threat at this time of the year in the United States and as we saw last week in Detroit, can suspend play and soften golf courses. A lingering 50% precipitation chance across tournament week may deposit at any time, and I’m expecting a lush course after wet May and June months.

Anyway watered greens here are always a feature. But we may see slightly higher scoring, say at 2019 levels this week for a couple of reasons. Temperatures won’t break 30 degrees Celsius as they usually do, but more importantly there could well be 10-15 mph breezes across Thursday and Friday, which freshen to +20 at the weekend.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winners here at the John Deere Classic gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:

  • 2019, Dylan Frittelli (-21). 314 yards (32nd), 78.6% fairways (7th), 77.8% greens in regulation (10th), 31’9″ proximity to hole (22nd), 93.8% scrambling (1st), 1.70 putts per GIR (22nd).
  • 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 Averages:

Driving Distance: 25th, Driving Accuracy: 27th, Greens in Regulation: 16th, Proximity to Hole: 15th, Scrambling: 20th, Putting Average 9th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Dylan Frittelli (-21). SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 60th, SG Around the Green: 2nd, SG Tee to Green: 15th, SG Putting: 2nd.
  • 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: 21st, SG Approach: 25th, SG Around the Green: 30th, SG Tee to Green: 13th, SG Putting: 3rd.

Let’s take a view from players as to how TPC Deere Run sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Dylan Frittelli (2019): “Yeah, that’s huge. I’d obviously won on The European Tour, but my exemption was running out at the end of this year, so I was looking at, if I don’t keep my card here on the U.S. tour, I have to go to Korn Ferry Tour School and play the Playoffs there, and try and get my card back. Then I’m giving up three or four weeks to play in Europe where I can try to keep a card. All this stuff has been going through my mind the last four to eight weeks, and the only thing is you can’t control that stuff. You just have to play golf and try to put it in the background. Last week and the previous week, I played great but let it affect me, and thankfully it weekend I managed to knuckle down and have a really clear mind-set and execute on pretty much every shot on the weekend.”

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 John Deere Classic winners since 2010:

  • 2019 – Dylan Frittelli: Round 1: 10th, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 5th.
  • 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 Off the Lead: Below are the shots from the lead during the tournament of the John Deere Classic winners since 2010:

  • 2019 – Dylan Frittelli: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 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:

  • Dylan Frittelli: 46th 3M /46th Rocket /MC Travelers/59th Canadian Open.
  • 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 Byron Nelson/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.

  • 2019 – Diaz  – PM -9/62 – 150/1.
  • 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 green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 5 – Steve Stricker.
  • 5 – Zach Johnson.
  • 4 – Kevin Na.
  • 3 – Ryan Moore.
  • 2 – Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover, Brian Harman, Martin Laird, Troy Merritt, Jhonattan Vegas.
  • 1 – Sangmoon Bae, Daniel Berger, Jonas Blixt, Jonathan Byrd, Dylan Frittelli, Bill Haas, Jim Herman, Kevin Kisner, Michael Kim, Danny Lee, David Lingmerth, Hunter Mahan, Ben Martin, Sean O’Hair, Ted Potter Jnr, Chez Reavie, Rory Sabbatini, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Streelman, Michael Thompson, Camilo Villegas, Nick Watney.

Recent winning totals of -16, -20, -26, -22, -20, -19, -22, -20, -22, -18, -27 and -21 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 both 2018 and 2019 highlighted, picking the winner here is not always easy.

Picking out Michael Kim in 2018 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. 2019 saw Dylan Frittelli capture his maiden PGA Tour victory here at 90/1. His form in read 59-MC-46-46, hardly stellar stuff, but you could have picked him on the basis he had been 9th after 54 holes the week before at the 3M Open before shooting a Sunday +2/73 and collapsing 37 spots. Fact is, this is resort-scoring golf and freak results happen as a regular 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 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 play as the hardest holes 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, Dylan Frittelli and famously Jordan Spieth have captured their first titles in this event.

My Final John Deere Classic Tips Are As Follows

Alex Noren 2pts EW 33/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

I’m thinking that Alex Noren won’t be arriving in Silvis, Illinois, this week just because of the charter flight that John Deere put on to take players across to next week’s Open Championship. Instead Alex seems to be regaining confidence and he has to be motivated to capture his first main Tour win since June 2018 (Open de France) and to of course capture his first PGA Tour victory.

In many ways he reminds me of Francesco Molinari back in 2018 who won the Quicken Loans National – his first victory (at 22/1) on United States soil and then came here a fortnight later and finished T2 (at 10/1) behind Michael Kim. This time around I’m hoping that Noren backs up his 4th place finish last week in Detroit with a contending performance on his TPC Deere Run debut.

Indeed the 4th place finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic was his best in the United States since the 3M Open last July – and back then Alex went on to finish 9th at the Barracuda Championship, 22nd at the PGA Championship and 8th at the star-studded Northern Trust. That continuation of good form is actually something you see across his career. For our North American readers who are unaware, Noren is a 10-time European Tour winner whose wins have all come on Bentgrass-base green surfaces. His last 6 wins have also come off 21/2/11/12/10/25 the outing before he won.

And his current play is best highlighted by his 8-week Strokes Gained tracker numbers where in this field he ranks 5th for Off the Tee, 3rd for Around the Green, 12th for Tee to Green, 13th for Putting and 5th for Current Form. RESULT: MC

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Patton Kizzire 1.5pts EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Coral

Patton Kizzire seems a winner in waiting and that’s more than likely to come at a birdie-fest.

A sparky -8/64 was equal best round of the day at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday and came when conditions were at their easiest. Already in 2021 Patton has finished 7th at the Sony Open, where Kevin Na shot -21/259 to triumph. 3rd at the Byron Nelson saw K.H. Lee shoot -25/263 to win, and 3rd at the Charles Schwab Challenge showed a different side to Kizzire, as Jason Kokrak won at a mid-range score of -14/266. 20th for Birdie Average on the PGA Tour this season is only beaten in this field by favourite Daniel Berger.

9th in this week’s Predictor Model and within the top 15 in my 8-week trackers for both Putting Average and Strokes Gained Putting, it was fascinating to see that Patton hit 14 of 18 greens on Sunday and ranked in the top 5 for Strokes Gained on Approach. Marry the two trends together and hopefully it’s bingo. 25th (2017) and 30th (2018) here at TPC Deere Run when arriving off 2 and 3 missed cuts respectively. RESULT: T11

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Jhonattan Vegas 1pt EW 66/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Jhonattan Vegas is another who has always gone well when birdies and low scoring are the key to victory.

His maiden PGA Tour victory was the 2011 Bob Hope Classic where he shot -27/333 across 5 rounds to beat Bill Haas and Gary Woodland in a play-off. Potentially more relevant, 2016 and 2017 RBC Canadian Open wins at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario came at -12/276 and -21/267 respectively. Glen Abbey is a short, tree-lined, classical course featuring Bentgrass-base greens, highlighting that TPC Deere Run should suit. So it’s not a huge surprise to see that Vegas was 3rd here in 2014, when across the week he ranked 11th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 5th for Strokes Gained Putting.

2021 has been fruitful for Jhonattan who is up from 216 to 133 in the Official World Golf Rankings. 2nd at the Puerto Rico Open (-18/270), 9th at the Byron Nelson (-18/270) and 2nd at the Palmetto Championship, Vegas has been in the contending mix twice this year, coming up just short to Branden Grace and Garrick Higgo – no disgrace in that.

And undoubtedly Vegas must arrive full of confidence this week. 57th at the U.S. Open last time out was his first Major finish since 2018 and his driving and approach play are in rude health right now. Indeed across my 8-week trackers, Vegas ranks in this field 2nd for Greens in Regulation, 1st for Off the Tee, 8th for Approach, 4th for Tee to Green and 17th for Current Form. RESULT: T11

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Beau Hossler 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Beau Hossler, as recently as the AT&T Byron Nelson, was as low as 166th in the FedEx Cup standings. Coming off his 11th missed cut of the season at TPC Craig Ranch, runner-up PGA Tour finishes in 2018 at both the Houston Open and Travelers Championship must have seemed an age away for the 26 year-old Californian. June and July though is where fields get weaker as the elite focus on the U.S. Open and Open Championship, and it’s where those in Tour status trouble have to raise their game. The Korn Ferry Tour can become reality for those outside of the top 150 in the FedEx Cup, and naturally every pro wants top 125 so they can choose their own PGA Tour schedule for next season.

So an upturn in Beau’s results has been good to see. 19th at the Palmetto Championship, 10th at the Travelers Championship and 25th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic has seen the Dallas, Texas resident move up to 144th in the FedEx standings, but with only 5 regular season tournaments left to play including the John Deere Classic, Beau needs strong results now. And you know what, they might arrive. Across my 8-week trackers in this field he ranks 5th for Greens in Regulation and, from a Strokes Gained perspective, sits 14th for Tee to Green and 14th for Current Form.

Runner-up finishes in Korn Ferry events across Kansas (2017 Air Capital Classic), New York State (2017 LECOM Health Challenge) and Ohio (2019 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational) translate well to this week’s challenge in Illinois; plus let’s not forget that Beau’s 2nd and 10th at TPC River Highlands correlates very nicely with John Deere Classic winners like Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Brian Harman, Ryan Moore and Bryson DeChambeau, all of whom have played very nicely at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut. 1 appearance here in 2019 saw Hossler finish an encouraging 26th, when in far worse form. RESULT: MC

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Jim Herman 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Jim Herman is never the sexiest of selections, but one thing you have to say about Donald Trump’s favourite golfer is that Herman knows how to get over the line.

A 3-time PGA Tour winner, Jim has won the 2016 Shell Houston Open, 2019 Barbasol Championship and 2020 Wyndham Championship. He doesn’t fire often, but boy when he contends he sticks, and his wins have come with winning totals of -15/273, -26/262 and -21/259. And 2021 seems pretty normal for ‘Hermie’ with masses of poor performances and missed cuts meaning he sits at 176th in the FedEx Cup standings. He’s safe in terms of playing privileges after winning in both 2019 and 2020, but if he wants to make some more money via the FedEx Cup Playoffs, then he needs to move quickly.

And there have been undoubted flashes across his past 2 appearances. A -4/68 on Friday at The Memorial saw him in 9th spot going into the weekend – he finished 26th. And last time out at the Travelers Championship, a -4/67 on Saturday again saw him in 17th spot going into Sunday. He finished 25th.

When on form he’s a superb ball-striker and course plotter who can clearly shoot lights out. And it’s interesting to see that across the past 8 weeks he ranks in this field 5th for Driving Accuracy, 11th for Greens in Regulation, 12th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 14th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. The difference maker could also be the fact that he’s been making the odd putt or 2, actually ranking 15th for Putting Average (Putts per GIR). 10th here at TPC Deere Run in 2013. RESULT: T28

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Kevin Tway 0.5pt EW 300/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

A move up country for Kevin Tway has undoubtedly helped the 32 year-old. A dire couple of seasons have followed a breakout 18/19 season where the Oklahoma State University graduate won his maiden Tour title at the 2018 Safeway Open, finished 5th at the Travelers Championship and a fantastic 11th at the 70-man FedEx Cup Playoff event, the BMW Championship. That was played at Medinah Country Club here in Illinois. But a disastrous 2019/20 campaign has been followed by pretty much the same situation this season, with 40th at the Bermuda Championship ranking as his best finish.

But Connecticut and Michigan over the past 2 weeks have seen an up-shift, with a Friday 66 at TPC River Highlands helping Tway make the weekend for only the 5th time this season. And last week in Detroit saw rounds of 68-67-69 deliver a 14th place finish and a confidence-boosting $121k to boot. The John Deere Classic every year throws-up huge priced each-way placing finishers and Tway has a profile of growing confidence, allied to the desperate need for results. At 192nd in the FedEx Cup standings and with his win exemption disappearing in August, it’s pretty much now or never for Kevin and that may well be the motivating factor with the better results.

6th (2018) and 5th (2019) at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, a glance at Tway’s Korn Ferry CV also highlights good finishes in the Mid-West in Missouri (2016 Price Cutter Championship), Nebraska (2013 Cox Classic) and Ohio (2016 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational). 12th here in 2017. RESULT: T23

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:40BST 5.7.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.