Fresh off Matthew Wolff‘s first career PGA Tour victory at last week’s inaugural 3M Open, the Tour shifts from Minnesota to Illinois for the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run. The event is scheduled annually as the precursor to The Open Championship. Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush hosts the final Major of 2019 next week.
One golfer from this week’s 156-player field will gain entry to The Open if they finish in the top five and aren’t already exempt from Open qualification. Three additional spots will be awarded to those competing in the European Tour‘s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. Many of the world’s top players—and those banking on an Open invite—have already made their way across the pond in preparation, leaving an inordinately weak field for the John Deere Classic.
Kevin Na, ranked No. 34 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is the top-ranked player in the field in Illinois, as of Monday, but he withdrew from the 3M Open due to a neck injury. Just 13 others in the top 100 are participating in this week’s event. Meanwhile, four of the past seven winners, including 2018 champion Michael Kim will try to best TPC Deere Run once again.
The course: TPC Deere Run
TPC Deere Run is a par 71 measuring 7,268 yards with Bentgrass greens. It was designed by D.A. Weibring and has hosted the John Deere Classic since 2000.
The four par 3s on the course measure between 158 and 226 yards, with two playing to either side of the 200-yard marker. Par 4s range from a low of 361 to a long of 503 and all three par 5s are in between 561 and 596 yards. Water comes into play on three holes, most significantly the 476-yard, par-4 18th. Trees line essentially all other holes, with little room for error when going long on the approach.
Kim set the tournament record last year by finishing 27-under par. He won by eight strokes over a group of four consisting of Bronson Burgoon, Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, and Sam Ryder. Paul Goydos set the course record at the 2010 John Deere Classic with an opening round 59.
Key stats to consider for the John Deere Classic
According to historical tournament data from Fantasy National, the stats most strongly correlated with success at TPC Deere Run are Strokes Gained: Approach, Opportunities Gained, Proximity 150-175 Yards, Good Drives Gained, and Strokes Gained: Par 5s.
Kim’s 2018 victory is a bit of an outlier. Of his average 4.94 strokes gained on the field per round, 3.38 came via putting, according to Data Golf. Just two other players gained more than two strokes per round with the flat stick at last year’s event.
John Deere Classic betting picks: Sleepers and values
Dahmen finished T2 last year after missing the cut in his 2017 debut at the event. He has moved up from 206 at the end of 2018 to 81st entering the week in the OWGR. He skipped the previous two events and last finished T43 in a much stronger field at the Travelers Championship.
The 31-year-old made the cut in 18 of his 24 events so far this season. His two top-10 results came in loaded fields at the Wells Fargo Championship (2) and the Farmers Insurance Open (T9). He gained strokes in all key statistics at last year’s event, and he is 13th in this week’s stat model over everyone’s most-recent 50 rounds played. Only 10 players are better from the key proximity distance and only 13 have gained more scoring opportunities. He ranks outside the top 33 in only one key stat – SG: Par 5s.
Similarly to Dahmen, Burgoon is being overlooked by the sportsbooks despite his runner-up finish in 2018 which gained him entry to The Open at Carnoustie. He’s hoping for the same result this year after missing the cut a year ago. He has made three straight cuts in 2019 after an awful stretch which saw him make the weekend just twice in 12 events. His current run peaked last week with a finish of 34th, but he closed the tournament with three straight rounds in the 60s after opening with a 73.
He is only 57th by the stat model but his top trait is creating scoring opportunities, and he ranks in the top half of the field in all but one key stat. The 32-year-old also finished T47 at Deere Run in 2016.
Vegas will make his first PGA Tour appearance since missing the cut in consecutive events at the US Open and the Memorial Tournament. He has three top 10s on the year with the most recent coming at the Wells Fargo. The others were in very strong fields at The Players Championship and the Waste Management Open.
Vegas ranks 16th by the stat model with only four players gaining more scoring opportunities over their last 50 rounds played. He hasn’t played here in three years but collected a T3 in 2014. The three-time PGA winner will need a strong showing in Illinois in order to make his third straight appearance at The Open.
John Deere Classic betting picks: The winner
Moore enters the week ranked 80th in the OWGR. The 2016 tournament champion ranks second in the stat model but has just the 10th-best odds to win despite being ninth-best in the field by world ranking.
Moore rode a strong approach and tee-to-green game to his victory four years ago. He gained 1.20 strokes per round with the putter. He missed the cut in 2017 and placed T55 last year. His recent form will make him an excellent daily fantasy choice and has tempered his odds, as he enters the week with consecutive missed cuts following a T15 at the much more competitive Travelers Championship. Moore ranks in the top five of the field in SG: Approach and Good Drives Gained.