It’s never an enviable position for a PGA Tour event to be contested the week before a major championship because many players like to prepare for the major on their own or at the tournament site. Therefore, it’s a watered-down field at this week’s Tour event, the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. Here’s a look at the Sports Interaction favourites as well as odds on the Canadians in the field.
John Deere Classic Favourites
Give organizers of this tournament some credit as they annually provide a pretty nice perk for those guys entered who are headed across the pond for the British Open: a free chartered flight on Sunday night. The week before the British Open is probably the worst spot on the entire season’s schedule because most of the Europeans aren’t in the States and many other golfers head over early because it’s a different style of golf (links) in the United Kingdom. Plus the Quad Cities (parts of Illinois and Iowa) are six time zones behind the UK.
Last week, two-time John Deere champion Jordan Spieth said he was going to pass this year so he could go prepare for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in England. His first career win was this tournament in 2013 and he won again in 2015.
You are going to see very low scores this week at TPC Deere Run, which is a par 71 measuring 7,268 yards. Paul Goydos shot a 59 in the first round here in 2010. Steve Stricker won that year with a tournament record score of 26-under 258. Stricker won the event from 2009-11, the last player on Tour to win the same tournament years in a row. In seven of the past eight years, the champion has been at least 20 under. The cut last year was at 4 under.
The highest Top 5 finisher this week earns a spot in the British Open if not already qualified. There are 15 guys in the field currently that are headed to Royal Birkdale.
Daniel Berger is the +1200 favourite even though he plays here for the first time. Berger won the St. Jude Classic the week before the U.S. Open, missed the cut at that tournament and then was second last time out at the Travelers Championship.
Brian Harman and Charley Hoffman are +1400 and Danny Lee +1600. Harman won the tournament in 2014 at 22 under but missed the cut in 2016. Hoffman has been Top 10 his past two events and was seventh here in 2010. Lee was third last time he played the event in 2015.
I’m a bit surprised that Zach Johnson doesn’t have lower than +2500 odds to win. He’s from the area, a member of the tournament’s board and has a win (2012), three seconds and two thirds here. Granted, he is not playing well right now.
Nick Taylor and David Hearn are both +5000. Taylor missed the cut the past two years here in his only trips. Hearn lost in a playoff in 2013 to Spieth (Johnson also was in that). Spieth only got into the playoff when he holed a bunker shot on the final hole of regulation. Hearn missed birdie putts of 10 feet on No. 16 and inside 5 feet on No. 17 to win. He hasn’t finished better than 45th in four other trips here. Brad Fritsch is +35000. He was 13th here in 2014 and missed the cut the previous year.
Dave Barr in 1981 is the only Canadian golfer to win this tournament. Two others have finished second: Dan Halldorson that year and Hearn.
John Deere Classic Predictions
Take defending champion Ryan Moore for a Top 10 as he has never missed the cut in the tournament and has two other Top 10s besides his win. But Johnson is the definition of a Horse for the Course at TPC Deere Run, and he’s the winning choice.