Adon’s John Deere Classic First-Round Leader Bets: Riding With Some Trusty Thursday Performers

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Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Harold Varner III

  • Adon S. runs through his favorite First-Round Leader longshots for the 2019 John Deere Classic, which gets underway at TPC Deere Run on Thursday, July 10.
  • Harold Varner III has a well-earned reputation as being a fast starter and deserve a look at his long odds (70-1).

The Midwest Swing makes its final stop in the Quad Cities this week at a course golf handicappers are very familiar with, which is a refreshing change of pace from the past two weeks.

At the time of writing on Wednesday morning, the forecast for Thursday’s first round indicates the afternoon wave could have an advantage. Wind gusts in the morning are forecasted to be 5-10 mph higher than the afternoon. Any small edge can make a difference when handicapping something with as much variance as First Round Leaders, so most of my selections will be teeing off in the afternoon. Denny McCarthy and Sam Saunders were two guys on my short list, but since they tee off early, I cut them from the card.

This week all selections are 60-1 and higher, and as always, I’m risking right around 1 unit total to win 10 units. If you need a refresher on First-Round Leader wagering, check out my strategy article here.

Let’s get to it.

Joel Dahmen

  • Odds: 60-1 (.17u)
  • Tee time: 8:30 a.m. ET

Owner of three First Round Leader titles this season, Dahmen hit a month-long lull but appeared to snap out of it during his last start at the Travelers. I also have an outright wager on Dahmen in this spot, as he has fond memories at TPC Deere Run, where he had his first breakthrough performance on tour this time last year (T-2).

Scott Brown

  • Odds: 65-1 (.15u)
  • Tee time: 9:30 a.m. ET

Brown has six top-25 finishes at this event in his past seven starts, and he enters this week fresh off a 15th-place finish at the 3M Open. Distance isn’t much of a factor at TPC Deere Run, which is good news for the short-hitting Brown. Before the First Round Leader market gained popularity, Brown was a Thursday favorite. He has three top-seven Round 1 finishes in his past eight starts and should be a good fit at one of his favorite courses.

Harold Varner III

  • Odds: 70-1 (.14u)
  • Tee time: 1 p.m. ET

HV3 was the First Round Leader at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this season and has proven to be one of the best Thursday performers throughout his short career. We saw at the PGA Championship how hard it is for most young players to close out tournaments, as HV3 was in a final pairing with Brooks Koepka on Sunday before tumbling down the leaderboard. (This statement has some obvious exceptions, as we saw with Matthew Wolff last week.) This is why I love the First Round Leader market for young players such as Varner. As a bonus, Harold also finished in sixth place here last year.

Mackenzie Hughes

  • Odds: 70-1 (.14u)
  • Tee time: 1:30 p.m. ET

Hughes finally cooled off last week, but I like him to bounce back at TPC Deere Run, where he finished in 16th place last year. Hughes also happens to rank 16th on the PGA Tour in Round 1 scoring average and was co-First Round Leader a few weeks ago at the Travelers. Hughes has sat inside the top 20 after Thursday in each of his past five starts, so you are usually guaranteed a sweat with him.

Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mackenzie Hughes

Nate Lashley

  • Odds: 70-1 (.14u)
  • Tee time: 1:40 p.m. ET

A natural letdown was in order after his life-changing breakthrough win two weeks ago in Detroit and this event is a prime bounce-back spot. Lashley was the First Round Leader of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which counts just as much for our purposes as his outright win, and he sat in sixth place after Thursday his start before that. Lashley currently ranks third on the PGA Tour in Round 1 scoring average.

Danny Lee

  • Odds: 75-1 (.13u)
  • Tee time: 2:30 p.m. ET

Danny has shown an ability to perform his best during the summer months and if you follow the Thursday leaderboards closely like I do, you’ve definitely noticed him on the first page often since his out-of-nowhere Round 1 performance at the 2019 PGA Championship.

Typically one or two bad holes will keep Danny at bay, but if he comes home clean, he is always a threat to be FRL. Lee credits his improved recent performance to working with new swing coach George Gankas, famous for being the longtime swing coach of Matthew Wolff, if you’re into those type of motivations.

Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Danny Lee

Matt Every

  • Odds: 100-1 (.1u)
  • Tee time: 8:50 a.m.

No introduction needed here, as Every is birdie machine and a favorite Thursday triple-digit target of mine. The legend of Matt Every was once again on full display last week, as he went from challenging the course record on Friday to missing the secondary cut on Saturday. It really is an easy call to back Every again at yet another birdie-fest. Much like Si Woo Kim, you can ignore all form figures and course history with Every and just hope you’re catching on one of his good days.

Adam Svensson

  • Odds: 100-1 (.1u)
  • Tee time: 3 p.m. ET

I rostered Svensson last week in DFS, which was a big leap considering I only set one lineup, and he rewarded me with a T-15 finish. His ball-striking figures have just been too strong to ignore lately, and I was banking that his putting would not be terrible again. Well he continued to lose five strokes on the greens, but gained an absurd 12 strokes tee-to-green.

Svensson is another Web.com Tour graduate who knows how to go low because that is the only way to survive on what’s now being dubbed the Korn Ferry Tour. Svensson is in the last group off on Thursday, and if he can just get that putter closer to field average, I think he can make noise on Sunday this week, as well.

Total Risk: 1.07 units
YTD: -6.52 units

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