John Deere Classic
It was a case of ‘so near yet so far’ for us at the Rocket Mortgage Classic as our 66/1 pick Adam Hadwin lost out in a play off to Rickie Fowler, while our 100/1 pick Taylor Pendrith, who had started Sunday in third place and played in the final group with Fowler and Hadwin, stumbled to a closing 73 to fall out of the places completely.
Hadwin produced a really solid 67 on the final day, however with Fowler faltering down the stretch he was unable to find the birdie on the 72nd hole, which would have won him the title outright, before losing out in the three man play-off with Fowler, who had birdied the 72nd hole to make the play off, repeating the feat in the first extra hole to see off the Canadian and Collin Morikawa.
Frustration for us then but credit must be given to Fowler who delivered the win that his great play of late has promised. There were clearly some nerves on the back nine as he stalled to open the door for Morikawa and Hadwin but he produced the shots needed at the clutch moments and no one will begrudge the popular Californian this comeback win.
Anyway from our point of view as always in this game we need to be thick skinned and pick ourselves up and move on to this weeks event, The John Deere Classic.
With the Open Championship now two weeks away the John Deere Classic moved last year from its traditional slot of the final warm up event on the PGA Tour before the battle on the links for the Claret Jug.
The reason for this is to accommodate the tour’s ‘strategic alliance’ with the DP World Tour, which lead to next weeks Scottish Open being given PGA Tour status, therefore the John Deere moves forward a week on the schedule to avoid being an opposite field event, honours, which will be taken instead by the Barbasol next week.
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 around 1000 miles west of last weeks stop in Connecticut for the Travelers.
Despite the event avoiding the ‘opposite field’ status it would have held next week, the line up on display is a poor one. Favouritism honours go to the in form Denny McCarthy and Russel Henley. This duo are then followed by Cameron Young who arrives here searching for form.
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 won’t be in with a shout this week.
Let’s firstly take a look at the winners going back to 2011;
2022 JT Poston
2021 Lucas Glover
2019 Dylan Frittelli
2018 Michael Kim
2017 Bryson Dechambeau
2016 Ryan Moore
2015 Jordan Spieth
2014 Brian Harman
2013 Jordan Spieth
2012 Zach Johnson
2011 Steve Stricker
Although as already mentioned the event tends to attract a fairly weak field until 2018 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 2, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth x 2 [including his maiden tour win], Brian Harman, Ryan Moore and Bryson Dechambeau.
2019 then followed in a similar pattern as largely unfancied Dylan Frittelli triumphed having managed nothing better than 46th over the previous two months. 2021 saw former US Open Champion Lucas Glover triumph for the first time in ten years.
While not a marquee name allowing for the strength of the field last years winner was certainly more telegraphed as JT Poston arrived here on the back of a runner up finish at the Travelers to continue the momentum and bag the trophy.
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.
Frittelli was making his debut here in 2019 [the only one of the last ten winners who was] while 2018 winner Kim had finished 71st & 47th on two previous visits. 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.
Similarly Glover had shown a liking to the track finishing tenth and 25th in his two previous visits. With Poston however current form certainly trumped course form as JT had posted nothing better than 64th here in four previous visits.
As for the recent form of past winners coming in to the event this throws up some interesting numbers.
Firstly three of the winners since 2011 had already won on tour that season. These were Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth.
Five of the other winners over the past ten years, Poston, Dechambeau, Moore, Harman and Spieth on his maiden win, had all posted previous top ten’s on the season.
In addition Moore and Dechambeau had both finished in the top 20 in their previous start, while Harman had a top 10 finish four starts prior and, as noted before Poston had been runner up a week earlier.
As already mentioned though Frittelli and Kim threw all of these stats out of the window, while although 2022 winner Glover had an eighth at the Charles Schwab four starts prior he had managed nothing better than 37th in his previous three starts. To be honest then we seem to be looking at an event where ‘anything goes’ form wise coming in.
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 of -18 in 2017, while the lowest was Michael Kim’s -27 in 2018.
The average winning score though tends to be around the -20 mark and last year saw Glover triumph with -19.
After the potential for a storm early in the week we look set as a whole for a dry sunny tournament with temperatures in the high 80s or even low 90s all week. There is however a possibility of a storm on Sunday at the time of writing.
Winds could also be an issue through the week with Thursday in particular showing the possibility for gusts of 20mph+.
As I always say though this could all change!
I have gone with four players this week as follows;
ADAM HADWIN – 25 /1 – 1.5pts E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
In an event where there has definitely been an element of ‘anything goes’ over the years I am happy to predominantly side this week with the ‘hot hands’ of late. After all we saw last year JT Poston ride his runner up finish at TPC River Highlands in to a win here in his next start.
On that basis then I will kick things off by sticking with our nearly man from last week Adam Hadwin.
In Detroit last week I was happy to chance Hadwin based on a combination of the feel good factor around his close friend Nick Taylor’s win in Canada and of course his own solid form this season. Sadly while it wasn’t quite to be Adam came oh so close to justifying our support before losing out to Rickie Fowler in the play off.
On to this week then and there is a danger of some mental let down from that near miss, however Adam did nothing wrong over the final 36 holes so should take plenty of confidence. In addition of course this week there is no Fowler or Morikawa to see off as he tees it up in an event very much there for the taking.
A look at Adam’s stats for the week in Detroit show us that his solid all round game was very much in working order as he ranked tenth in approach play and second on the greens.
As we have seen in years gone by, notably at the American Express where memorably he shot 59, and of course again last week, the Canadian is more than capable of riding a hot putter to a big performance and with the roll of honour here having been littered with strong performers on the greens like Poston, Harman, Spieth, Zach Johnson and Stricker that is clearly a modus operandi that works here. Meanwhile it is encouraging to note that Adam has a strong line of form at other par 71 tracks such as the Copperhead Course where his lone triumph to date came, and TPC Summerlin, which certainly links well here through the likes of Ryan Moore and Dechambeau.
In addition we don’t have to speculate too much about Hadwin’s suitability to the track as although he missed the cut here last year his two previous visits yielded an eighth and 18th place finish.
All in all then Adam has plenty going for him this week and I am happy to stick with him to continue from where he left off last week and bag his long overdue second tour win.
TAYLOR MOORE – 28 /1 – 1.5pts E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 - FINISHED MC
Another player who returned to form last week was Taylor Moore and I was pleasantly surprised to see his odds this week hold up to the level they have allowing for the strength of field.
After a solid debut campaign the 22/23 season has certainly been a break out one for Taylor with his maiden win coming in The Valspar Championship on the Par 71 Copperhead track.
That week when we were on board, Moore showed that he has the pedigree and nerve to win out here and to do so in style and with six other top 15 finishes to his name this season he currently sits 20th in the Fedex standings.
Last week Moore arrived in Detroit on the back of three missed cuts, however averted the slide with a fourth place finish and along the way he talked about how some work with his coach had set right a glitch in his swing, which had lead to the upturn.
A look at his stats for the week at the Rocket Mortgage don’t to be fair completely back that up as his iron play was still inconsistent, while his putter, for which he was ranked first for the week did most of the damage. Clearly though Taylor felt a corner had been turned and if he can build on that work with his long game while keeping his trademark strength on the greens going I’ll take that as a positive.
Moore will be getting his second look at TPC Deere Run this week having finished 24th here last year on debut. That finish though doesn’t quite tell the full story as Moore opened up with rounds of 66 and 67 to sit high up on the leaderboard at the halfway stage before understandably fading on Saturday in what was surely part of his debut season learning curve. Ultimately though that performance represented his best finish on tour since a 21st place way back in February at the Genesis.
Moore made his way on to the PGA Tour courtesy of a strong 20/21 season on the Korn ferry Tour, which saw him hit a purple patch in the summer of 21 where he posted a win and a runner up in consecutive starts with totals of -27 and -25. 52- under over a fortnight then! We certainly know then that he has the tools to go low in a bridie fest, something he of course backed up last week.
Significantly also for this week that win for Taylor on the Korn Ferry came in the Memorial Health Championship held in Springfield, Illinois, a couple of hours away from this weeks venue. One would expect then that he feels comfortable in this neck of the woods.
This year then returning to Illinois as a tour winner and on the back of a top five finish I am happy to take Moore this week to ride the low scoring hot hand, just as he did in the summer of 21 on the Korn Ferry and feature prominently and he looks more than capable to me of bagging a second tour win at this level.
ADAM SCHENK –28/1 – 1.5pts e/w – 1/5 odds 1st 8. - FINISHED 4th
Next up I will side with a player who has been knocking on the door this season and has obvious chances here, Adam Schenk.
Brought up in neighbouring Indiana Schenk has clearly taken to TPC Deere Run, talking about how the whole ‘farming connection’ really reminds him of ‘back home’, on his way to finishing sixth and fourth in 2020 and 2021.
Looking at those two finishes and on both occasions Adam arrived in pretty poor form before flicking the switch in comfortable surroundings and producing a great week. Furthermore the 2021 result was a springboard to a strong run of form, which saw him finish 15th the following week at the Barbasol and come close to posting a maiden win at the Barracuda before finishing fourth. Clearly then Adam enjoys this time of year.
Moving on to this season then and it has been very much a case of feast or famine for Adam as 2023 has seen him post four top ten finishes including two runner up results, mixed with a bunch of missed cuts. With big finishes handsomely rewarded though in the Fedex Cup it all adds up to a great year for him to date as he currently sits in 26th place in the Fedex standings.
Schenk’s closest brush with victory this year came at the Valspar Championship, which we know links well here, however having performed strongly under the gun on Sunday he was undone on the 72nd hole when his drive finished right up against a tree thus handing the tournament to Taylor Moore. Until that bad break though Adam had looked like a player who was ready to win.
After that near miss Adam lost his way for a while, however he produced another second place finish at Colonial, following that with a seventh at the Memorial and he was back in the top ten again last week in Detroit.
At the Rocket Mortgage Schenk produced a really strong all round performance ranking sixth from tee to green, 12th in approach and 24th in putting, while he was also third in good old fashioned GIR.
I put Adam up in this event last year however he had an absolute schocker on Thursday, opening with a 77 before withdrawing, so one would assume there was a mitigating circumstance such as an illness. Back in Silvis this week then on a track we know he is fond of I’ll take him to cap his great season to date with a breakthrough win.
ANDREW LANDRY – 300/1 –1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 10 - FINISHED 61st
Finally having focused strongly on the top end of the market for my first three picks I will go to the other end of the spectrum for my final pick and throw a dart at Andrew Landry.
A two time winner on Tour in Texas in 2018 and again at the Amex in 2020, on both occasions Landry has shown that he can find his form out of nowhere and post a win. Win number one coming after four missed cuts and a 42nd place finish, while win number two came on the back of five missed cuts stretching back to the Shriners the previous year.
Moving on to this year and Andrew arrives in Illinois in the midst of a grim season, which has seen him post nothing better than 40th in Puerto Rico all campaign and at 209th in the Fedex time is well and truly running out for him to salvage a card for 23/24.
Last week however Landry managed something in Detroit he had failed to do this season previously and that was to play the weekend for the third start running. Furthermore Friday saw him post a 63, with him ranking third for the day in approach, sixth from tee to green and fourth in putting. Granted Andrew then faded over the weekend however add this to opening rounds of 67 and 68 the previous week at the Travelers and a couple of positive days in Canada and there are some glimpses of an uptick in form.
Those who did latch on to Landry for his last win at the Amex at huge odds may partly have done so due to his previous runner up finish in the event, therefore with regards to this week we can take some real positives that in five previous trips to TPC Deere Run he has posted two top tens here including a third place in 2019, a result which needless to say came when he was woefully out of form on arrival.
It goes without saying that the 35yr old could just easily post two over par rounds and get a weekend off here, however as a proven winner who triumphed in a birdie fest at -26, who is showing some glimpses of an upturn and with course form in the bank, I am more than happy to pay to find out at huge odds in an event, which wont take too much winning.