This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
JOHN DEERE CLASSIC
Winner's Share: 1.080M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Silvis, Ill.
Course: TPC Deere Run
2018 champion: Michael Kim
The John Deere Classic is often the butt of golf jokes, the subject of so many "this field sucks" wisecracks. But this year, suddenly, even with its worst field perhaps ever (in terms of world rankings), the Deere is a highly anticipated tournament this year. Why? Three words: Class of '19. The recent wave of college golfers who just became pros has turned the PGA Tour on its ear. For weeks, when you clicked on the Deere's website the first thing you saw were pictures of Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff (Oklahoma State), Collin Morikawa (Cal) and Justin Suh (USC). Now, in what can only be described as perfect timing, the quartet is coming to the Quad Cities just days after Wolff outdueled Morikawa to win a thrilling 3M Open.
Hovland has notched top-15s in three of his past four starts beginning with the U.S. Open and, even though he doesn't have a win or a runner-up like Wolff and Morikawa do, he incredibly is the top guy on the DraftKings board after just three tournaments as a professional. Then comes Morikawa and Wolff and, after them, another college-age golfer who joined the Tour last year, Joaquin Niemann. All are playing great golf. Suh has not found his footing yet, though he turned in his best showing as a pro last week at Minneapolis with a tie for 58th.
It's a good thing these kids are here, because nobody else is. Exactly zero golfers in the top-50 in the world rankings are entered. We can chalk that up to Zach Johnson's decline, Steve Stricker turning 50 and playing on the Champions Tour and No. 34-ranked Kevin Na withdrawing after the field was announced. That leaves No. 55 Charles Howell III and No. 56 Kyle Stanley as the top-ranked golfers in the field. Imagine if the Class of '19 weren't here? Golf Channel could preempt the Deere and no one would even notice. But people will take notice this year, and the area's golf fans deserve it. You'd be hard-pressed to find a community more devoted to its golf tournament than the Quad Cities is to the Deere. There aren't many sporting events in this area of Illinois/Iowa, certainly not before college football season starts.
Even though the field is weak, OWGR-wise, there are about a dozen golfers who are scheduled to hop on a charter flight on Sunday night to compete in next week's Open Championship. One more could be joining them in Northern Ireland, as a spot in the 156-man field is available for a top-five finisher not already exempt into Royal Portrush.
The tournament originated in 1971 and moved in 2000 to TPC Deere Run, site of one of a handful of 59s in PGA Tour annals. Paul Goydos turned the trick in the first round in 2010. Unfortunately for Goydos, Stricker was right behind that day with a 60, en route to a tourney-record 26-under-par. That perfectly illustrates the annual track meet that is the John Deere Classic. The winning score is generally north of 20-under so this is the quintessential birdie-fest. The golfers will need to zero in with their approach shots and make plenty of putts. We'll get into more specifics in the key stats and Champion's Profile below. Deere Run was the sixth easiest track among the 51 on Tour last year. The most exciting hole is the drivable 358-yard 14th, playing downhill to a tiny green. The hardest most years, including last year, is the par-4, 476-yard 18th.
Weather-wise, there's a chance of thunderstorms on Wednesday night, which could affect Thursday's play, but no rain is forecast over the four days of the tournament. It will be hot, around 90, with minimal wind.
Fun Deere fact No. 1: Organizers tried to attract attention when 15-year-old Michelle Wie was given a sponsor's exemption two years in a row. She was inside the cut line in 2005 until late double bogey/bogey did her in. The following year, far outside the cut line, Wie withdrew, citing the excessive heat.
Fun Deere fact No. 2: Roger Maltbie won the tournament in 1975, when it known as, of all things, the Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad Cities Open.
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Deere Run (in order of importance)
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
• Proximity to the hole
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained approach
• Birdie or better percentage (BOB)/bogey avoidance
2018 - Michael Kim
2017 - Bryson DeChambeau
2016 - Ryan Moore
2015 - Jordan Spieth
2014 - Brian Harman
2013 - Jordan Spieth
2012 - Zach Johnson
2011 - Steve Stricker
2010 - Steve Stricker
2009 - Steve Stricker
Looking back over the last nine editions, the winner here has been in the top 10 in putting eight times, with only Harman (31st) missing out. Some very good putters have won this tournament, and even Harman is one of them. Interestingly, only three of the nine winners finished top-10 in greens in regulation, and Harman was again one of those. Proximity to the hole is a good indicator, and eight of the nine champs were in the top 16. The only one who missed is the last name you'd come up with – Spieth. So all these good putters have also put themselves in good position to make said putts. Last year, Kim came out of nowhere for his maiden Tour win, leading the first in scrambling, proximity and strokes gained: putting, while ranking third in greens in regulation.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Joaquin Niemann - $10,200 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 20-1)
Niemann is the No. 4 guy on the DK board. Hovland is first at $10,900 and he's also the betting favorite. But he's only 18-1, illustrating how wide-open this tournament truly. We had a hard time picking any five-figure guy, but we'll go with the 20-year-old Chilean, who might be feeling a bit overlooked opposite the Class of '19. Niemann had a terrific arrival on Tour himself a year ago, then took a big step back in his second season, which is not uncommon. But of late, he's found great form. Since missing the cut at the PGA, he's gone 6-for-6 with two top-5s and another top-25 last week at the 3M. Putting his been his Kryptonite, but last week was better as he was 54th in the field in strokes gained: putting. Niemann tied for 23rd last year in his Deere debut. He's also eighth on Tour in proximity to the hole.
Sungjae Im - $9,700 (20-1)
The 21-year-old from Korea is another college-age sensation, the top rookie all season until this new wave came along. Im plays more than anyone else, but so far it hasn't hurt him. He's made 21 cuts in 28 starts and 13 of them have been top-25s, with six of them doubling as top-10s. His last four starts have been top-25, including T15 last week.
Brian Harman - $9,400 (25-1)
The 2014 Deere champion and former top-20 OWGR had been having a brutal season – until lately. He has missed 12 of 25 cuts with only four top-25s, but two of them have come in his past three starts, including T7 last week at the 3M. Normally a great putter, Harman has been languishing in the middle of the pack this season. But in Minneapolis, he ranked 19th in the field in strokes gained: putting and was also tied for 25th in green in regulation. Harman skipped the Deere last year but tied for 10th in 2017.
Tier 2 Values
Wyndham Clark - $9,000 (40-1)
We're back with Clark for a third straight week and he has delivered for us the first two times, first with a top-20 in Detroit and then a career-best T5 last week at the 3M. Clark played the Deere once before, missing the cut in 2017. Of course, that is a lifetime ago. Clark is top-10 on Tour in both driving distance (fourth) and strokes gained: putting (seventh), plus also 39th in strokes gained: around the green.
Bud Cauley - $8,700 (40-1)
Cauley has made the cut in 4-of-5 Deere visits, including top-12s his past two times in 2016-17. He's missed a lot of cuts and there are some deficiencies in his game, but Cauley leads the entire Tour in strokes gained: around the green. He's also ranked 45th in birdie or better.
Joel Dahmen - $8,400 (50-1)
Dahmen has seven top-25s on the season in his 18 made cuts. He's missed six cuts, but they've mostly come in tougher fields, including the U.S. Open last month. Dahmen was the tri-runner-up at the Deere a year ago. He is ranked just outside the top-50 in proximity.
Scott Brown - $8,300 (60-1)
Brown has played this tournament seven times and has cashed top-25 in six of them, including a tie for 12th last year. It has not been a great season for Brown, though he's made three of his past four cuts, including T15 last week at the 3M.
Tier 3 Values
Mackenzie Hughes - $7,900 (60-1)
For the season, Hughes has missed nine cuts in 22 starts. But lately he's been hot, making five in a row, with three of them being top-25s. Hughes tied for 16th in his maiden visit to the Deere last year.
Bronson Burgoon - $7,800 (60-1)
Burgoon is fighting to get inside the top-125 to keep his card. Right now, he's at No. 132 and he's moved up by making three cuts in a row for the first time all season. This week could put him over the top, as he was one of the runners-up here a year ago. He is tied for 31st on Tour in proximity.
Cameron Tringale - $7,700 (80-1)
Tringale has missed only four cuts all season in 18 starts with six top-25s. He has three top-25s in his past five starts. Tringale is ranked 20th in greens in regulation and 40th in birdie or better percentage.
Denny McCarthy - $7,500 (60-1)
McCarthy has missed 10 cuts in 23 starts, but he also has six top-25s, including his past two starts. McCarthy tied for 34th last year, but his elite short game this year could carry him to a higher (high?) finish – he leads the Tour in strokes gained: putting and is ranked eighth in scrambling.
Beau Hossler - $7,300 (80-1)
Hossler is another guy who needs to make a move to get inside the top-125. Right now, he's 135th. He's missed nine cuts this season, but only two in his past eight starts. Hossler's problem is no high finishes during that stretch. That could change this week in his first visit to the Deere. Hossler is ranked 10th on Tour in strokes gained: putting.
Johnson Wagner - $7,200 (80-1)
This may be Wagner's best tournament. He tied for 16th last year and strung together three straight top-10s from 2014-16. He does well at the Deere because he's an excellent putter, ranked 23rd in strokes gained: putting right now. He's also seventh in greens in regulation, making it hard to figure how he's 152nd in the FedEx point standings.
Roger Sloan - $67,100 (100-1)
Sloan is another guy among our picks who has missed almost as many cuts as he's made. But he's made five of his past six, including top-25s the past two weeks at Detroit (T21) and Minneapolis (T15). Sloan played the Deere only once before, when he was a rookie in 2015 and tied for 18th. It was his lone top-25 that season. He is ranked just outside the top-50 in proximity.
Seamus Power - $6,800 (150-1)
Well, now we've come to a golfer who has missed more cuts this season than he's made. Yet still, Power in on the cusp of the top-125 at 129th. The strength of his play is his short game. Power is 68th in strokes gained: around the green and 77th in strokes gained: putting, though traditionally he has been a far better putter. Power tied for 16th at the Deere last year and for 25th two years ago.
Dominic Bozzelli - $6,700 (Field, 5-1)
Bozzelli has finished top-25 in his two trips to the Deere the past two years, no doubt because he's a great putter. He's ranked ninth on Tour in strokes gained: putting. Bozzelli shot three rounds in the 60s two weeks ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic but a third-round 75 relegated him to a tie for 59th.