2018 John Deere Classic Betting Notes: Target the Mid-Tier

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Austin Cook

With the British Open a week away, many of the top players have already made the trek to the U.K. to prepare for the next major championship. But with one spot still up for grabs, the rest of the PGA Tour is ready for the John Deere Classic.

 

All odds as of Tuesday morning.

The Course

TPC Deere Run has hosted this event since 2000 on one of the easier tracks on the tour’s calendar. Usually a score in the high teens or low 20s under par is needed to lift the trophy at this 7,268-yard par-71 course.

Over the years, it has played as a second-shot golf course with a lot of wedge opportunities. Then, whoever has the hot putter will take down the title. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen Steve Stricker win three times in a row. Jordan Spieth has a pair of victories here. Zach Johnson has a win and a few runner-up finishes. The winning template is there with those types of players who don’t necessarily bomb it but hit a lot of greens and hole a lot of putts.

The Favorites

This is one of the weaker fields, in large part because of the Open Championship travel the next week.

Francesco Molinari and Bryson DeChambeau opened as the co-favorites at +1000 with Zach Johnson right behind at +1200. Ryan Moore and youngster Joaquin Niemann are the only other players under +2000 at +1400 and +1600, respectively.

Stricker checks in at +2000, and Kyle Stanley is available at +2500 to close out the top part of the board.

 

It’s tough to suggest backing any of these players at these numbers, so I’m steering clear. The problem with that is the favorites usually take this thing down. The six wins mentioned above, along with Moore in 2016, were all +3300 or lower. The best play may just be firing at Johnson to make the top five in the +250 or +300 range. He’s won it just once but has been in the top five seven of the past nine years. This is his best course by a long shot and fits everything he does well.

The Mid-Tier

DeChambeau won the title from this range last year at +5000, and this is the spot I’m targeting with my plays.

First up is Austin Cook at +4000 on MyBookie. Cook is in the running for Rookie of the Year and has the profile to play well here. He’ll keep the driver in play and give himself a lot of chances to attack the course with his approach game. He’s also one of the better putters on tour. The only concern is that he qualified for the British Open last week with his fifth-place finish, so he may be looking ahead to next week.

Next up is Chris Kirk at +5500. He’s been playing really well, finishing in the top 11 in three of his past five tournaments. He ranks in the top 25 in Strokes Gained: Approach and gains ground on the field in all four areas. He’s got the all-around game to play well here, and if the putter gets rolling, he should do well.

The last two are Brian Gay at +6000 and Aaron Wise at +6600. Gay is another player who hits wedges well and putts the lights out. He’s finished in the top 20 four times in the past couple of months, so the game is close. Wise hasn’t made a cut since his win at the Byron Nelson, but his game started to trend back in the right direction at the Greenbrier. He gained four strokes with his ball-striking last week, but the short game failed him. His short game was good a couple of months ago, so I think he’s a solid candidate to bounce back.

The Longshots

Considering how weak the field is and how long shots have fared at this event, I’m steering clear of them this week.

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