John Deere Classic
It was a frustrating week for us in the end at the Military Tribute At The Greenbrier as all of our main team had reasonably solid weeks but none were able to make the push when it mattered to finish in the places.
Henley had a great final round of 63, which left him one shot shy of the place money, whilst Schneiderjans and Bryan who were both in a good position to strike going in to round 4 were unable to go forward.
With the Open Championship now less than a fortnight away lets move on to the PGA Tour’s final stop before the annual battle for the Claret Jug, the John Deere Classic.
The first thing to say about this weeks event is that should England win a certain football match on Wednesday evening for those of us this side of the pond the final round of the John Deere next Sunday will probably pass us by whilst we are either in a wave of unimaginable delirious euphoria or deflated despair [the latter of which I really don’t want to contemplate!].
Still, there is no rule that I am aware to say that your country can’t win the World Cup whilst you back the winner of the John Deere Classic on the same day, so let’s try and make it an unforgettable double!
The John Deere Classic first became an official PGA Tour event in 1972. At this time it was known as the Quad Cities Open. After a couple of further changes of sponsor it became the John Deere Classic in 1999 and since 2000 it has been played at TPC Deere Run.
The event is played in Silvis, Illinois, which is just over 700 miles North West of last weeks stop for the Military Tribute At The Greenbrier.
With the event being played the week before the British Open there are obviously logistical troubles as well as preparational ones for players who are playing in the Open and who choose to tee it up at the John Deere.
To help with the travel issues and to help try and attract bigger names to its field, since 2006 The John Deere Classic has sponsored a charter flight which leaves the local area from Silvis on the Sunday night and arrives in Britain the following morning.
In addition to of course giving players a chance to add a PGA tour title to their CV the John Deere Classic is also known as the ‘last chance saloon’ for a player to qualify for the British Open who is not already exempt. This is because on spot is reserved for the highest placed finishing player who finishes in the top 5 at the John Deere and who has not already qualified for the Open.
Despite the efforts of the sponsors to attract bigger names by putting on flights etc the field is bereft of star names with most of the games leading lights choosing to either take the week of or to tee it up in the Scottish Open as part of their Open Championship preparation.
As a result the market is headed up by in form Francesco Molinari, defending champion Bryson Dechambeau, John Deere stalwart Zach Johnson [who has owned this event alongside Steve Stricker over the years], rookie superstar in the making Joaquin Niemann and another past champion Ryan Moore.
TPC Deere Run is a par 71 measuring just over 7250 yds.
The greens are Bentgrass.
The course was designed by DA Weibring and was opened in 1999, it then underwent some renovation over 2006 & 2007.
TPC Deere Run is basically your archetypal birdie fest and if you don’t make plenty of them you wont be in with a shout this week.
Although as already mentioned the event tends to attract a fairly weak field over the last 10yrs all of the winners have actually been players from the higher echelons of the game, particularly when seen in relation to the field teeing it up on the week.
These winners have been Steve Stricker x 3, Kenny Perry, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth x 2 [including his maiden tour win], Brian Harman, Ryan Moore and Bryson Dechambeau.
It would appear therefore that this is not actually a week to go looking for huge shocks.
If we look at previous course history of these winners it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
The two course specialists Stricker & Zach Johnson obviously had a bundle of course form prior to their wins.
Jordan Spieth had made the cut here on one previous visit prior to his first win, Brian Harman had a top twenty to his name in two previous visits, whilst Bryson Dechambeau had missed the cut on his only previous visit.
Ryan Moore however did have two top 10s to his name in four previous visits and Kenny Perry had finished 11th here the previous year to his win.
It’s worth noting though that unlike at the Greenbrier last week none of the winners over the past ten years were making their course debut when winning.
As for the recent form of past winners coming in to the event this throws up some interesting numbers.
Firstly six of the past ten winners had already won on tour that season.
This includes Stricker who had won previously on all of the three years he had won in succession, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth, along with Kenny Perry.
It’s also worth noting that several of these wins had come recently to the victory at John Deere. Perry and Spieth,[on his second win] had actually won on their previous starts, Stricker on the year of one of his wins had triumphed recently at Memorial and Zach had won four starts previously at Colonial.
As for the other four winners over the past ten years, Dechambeau, Moore, Harman and Spieth on his maiden win, they all had previous top tens on the season.
In addition Moore and Dechambeau had both finished in the top 20 in their previous start, whilst Harman had a top 10 finish four starts prior.
To sum up therefore it appears TPC Deere Run is a place where in form quality players in relation to the field on display arrive with all components of their game in good order and just keep their recent good mojo rolling.
As I mentioned earlier TPC Deere Run basically offers up a barrage of birdie’s and this is reflected in the winning score over recent years.
The ‘highest’ winning scores we have seen in recent years was Perry’s -16 back in 2008 and Bryson Dechambeau’s winning total last year of -18, whilst the lowest was Stricker’s -26 back in 2010.
The average winning score though tends to be around the -20 mark.
As always appears to be the case of late it looks like we are in for another week of, sunshine, warm temperatures mixed in with the possibility of a thunderstorm or two.
The wind looks to be pretty negligible all week so conditions for scoring should be fairly perfect.
I have gone with four players this week as follows;
BRYSON DECHAMBEAU –12-1 - 4pts Win. WD During 1st Rnd - Shoulder Injury
As I’ve already stated TPC Deere Run seems to bring the best out in players who are already in a rich vein of form and there haven’t been many players in better form this season and indeed recently than Bryson Dechambeau.
Dechambeau arrived here last year having recently turned the corner on a dreadful run of form, which had seen him miss eight consecutive cuts over the spring.
When he arrived in Illinois however he had made his previous three cuts including notching two top 20s in his previous two starts and he duly stepped it up to land his first PGA Tour title
This year with the confidence that victory gave him Bryson has upped his game to another level and he did us a huge favour when landing his second PGA Tour title at Muirfield Village a few weeks back.
Since that victory Bryson has kept his form going with a solid showing at the US Open and another top 10 at the Travelers.
He now arrives back at TPC Deere Run to defend his first PGA Tour title and whilst one could be forgiven for thinking that he may have half an eye on Carnoustie next week I don’t see that being the case.
My main reason for thinking this is that Bryson currently sits in the last automatic qualification spot for the Ryder Cup and he has made no secret of the fact that to make the team is now one, if not the, biggest goal he has for the rest of this season.
He will therefore know that if he can defend his title this week he will have all but locked up a spot up for Paris.
One other reason that Bryson may have a bit of extra motivation this week is that his back maybe slightly up from his recent brush with the USGA.
For those who may have missed it the reason for this contretemps was the small issue of a compass.
Bryson basically was spotted on camera using a compass during his 3rd round at the Travelers and this lead to the USGA investigating as to whether it breached any rules.
As a result of this they decided it did and therefore Bryson’s compass is now compass non grata.
For what it’s worth Bryson advised reporters in Connecticut that he was “using it to figure out the true pin locations”.
I am sure this will have irked him somewhat and Bryson strikes me as the sort of player who will be motivated to come straight back out and prove a point, that he is more than capable of winning without a compass!
At the moment Dechambeau seems to be in the hunt every week that goes by and I think he has a great chance of defending his first PGA Tour victory this week.
CHESSON HADLEY – 40 -1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 6 - FINISHED - MDF
Another player who has been in really solid form over the season as a whole is Chesson Hadley, In fact he has basically done everything this season bar win.
After a well-documented loss of form lead to Chesson returning to the Web.com tour he bounced back with a vengeance in the 2016/17 season, with two wins and three other top 3 finishes to secure his return to the PGA Tour.
Since then Chesson has barely looked back and having started the season with three straight top 3 finishes he has notched four more top 10 finishes since.
The US Open and Travelers Championship saw a couple of rare consecutive missed cuts from Hadley, however he bounced back with his latest top 10 finish last time out at the Quicken Loans National.
The Georgia Tech grad showed last year with his performances on the Web.com tour that he is more than capable of going low when required.
This was best seen when he shot -23 in back to back starts to win and finish third in July and August.
On this basis you would suspect Chesson would have the necessary ammunition for the birdie fest that we will no doubt see this week.
To back that suspicion up further another reason I am keen on Hadley this week is that he currently sits 9th on the PGA Tour in the ‘Birdie’s per round’ stats and he is actually the highest ranked player in the field this week in this statistic [Dechambeau is the second highest].
Furthermore Chesson also currently sits third on the seasons stats for total birdies made.
Hadley has made three previous starts at TPC Deere Run over the past three seasons and in the first two he missed the cut.
Last year however he took time out from his stellar season on the Web.com tour to finish 25th here and this included a second round of 64, so clearly he can handle the course.
In summary If Chesson can deliver this week the form he has shown regularly this season and continue to notch the birdies to the level he has been I can see him going mightily close to his second PGA Tour win.
KEVIN TWAY – 66-1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 7 - FINISHED 50th
Next up for me this week is Oklahoma native Kevin Tway.
The last six years have seen three players in the form of Spieth, Harman and Dechambeau register their maiden PGA Tour win at TPC Deere Run and I can see Tway adding his name to that list this week.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the write up all recent winners had notched several top ten finishes earlier in the season and Tway who has three top tens in his last six starts fits the bill.
Clearly therefore Kevin is in decent nick at the moment.
Last year Tway finished 12th at TPC Deere Run and this included a second round of 63.
Furthermore like our previous pick Hadley, Tway currently sits high in the total birdies made stats in 8th place.
Tway has been knocking on the door for a while now and allowing for his propensity to deliver high finishes on a reasonably consistent basis I see the 66-1 on offer this week as great e/w value.
STEPHAN JAEGER – 125-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
For my final selection I am going to give another chance to Stephan Jaeger who was in our team last week.
My reason for putting Stephan forward last week was that he had found some form to finish 13th at the Quicken Loans National in his previous start and whilst he didn’t deliver for us at the Greenbrier neither did he disgrace himself in finishing 47th.
He should therefore come in to this week still in reasonable heart.
When I included Jaeger in my ‘6 to follow for 2018’ at the turn of the year I highlighted this event as one which he could have some joy in.
My logic in this was twofold. Firstly of course with most of the ‘big guns’ absent it gives a chance for some of the lesser lights to shine.
Secondly and perhaps more pertinently it struck me as the ideal venue for someone who has a track record of going ‘seriously low’.
I’ve highlighted on several previous occasions that the German’s best form on the Web.com came in events where he was able to tear a course apart with a barrage of birdies so I wont go over that in great detail again.
Suffice to say though that anyone who can shoot -30 or -19 [in a three round event] to win a trophy should be licking their lips at the prospect of a trip to TPC Deere Run.
UPDATED 10th JULY
TRADER - JJ HENRY - FINISHED 34th - BEST PRICE TRADED 110
To be honest it was a bit of a struggle to find someone in the 200+ price bracket on the exchange this week to run with as our trader, however after consideration I have settled on the veteran from Conecticut JJ Henry.
Henry is not having the greatest of seasons and is currently languishing at 149 in the Fedex Cup standings so he needs to get his skates on.
There were however signs of life at the Greenbrier last week where he notched a 21st place finish after opening with a 65.
His record at TPC Deere Run is not too shabby either with three top 10s over the years including last year when he threw in a round of 64.
It's also worth noting that his last win on tour came at an almost identical time of year at the Barracuda three years ago.
With most peoples interest focused either on the Scottish Open or matters away from golf completely this week the liquidity on the exchange is fairly poor at the moment however hopefully this will pick up tomorrow.
CURRENTLY TRADING 510+