2021 John Deere Classic: 3 Buys at TPC Deere Run, Including Cameron Davis & Sungjae Im
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Davis.
Another week, another multi-hole playoff as the Rocket Mortgage Classic needed more than 72 holes to decide a champion.
Joaquin Niemann, Troy Merritt, and Cameron Davis treated us to some free golf on Sunday in Detroit. In the end, Davis outlasted Merritt over five playoff holes to lift the trophy in his first victory on TOUR.
The Australian was the least likely of the three to be in that spot as he had to be nearly perfect over the final holes to match them at 18-under on the week. His eagle-birdie finish was clutch in getting himself into the playoff and in a position to capture his first win.
Niemann entered Sunday as the favorite, and he once again went bogey-free on his round, making it 72 holes without a bogey at Detroit Golf Club. Unfortunately for the Chilean, his first dropped shot would come at an inopportune time, as he would bogey the first playoff hole, leaving Merritt and Davis to move on.
Merritt would match Davis nearly shot-for-shot and benefit from a couple of missed opportunities to keep the playoff going through the first four holes.
He made a great up-and-down from the bunker on hole 15 to keep them playing the first time through, but when they came back to that spot, he was unable to find the magic to save par. His bogey would ultimately lose him the tournament and leave Davis as the last man standing.
Now, the TOUR heads back to the John Deere Classic in its traditional spot the week before The Open Championship.
The field is weak, as expected, with many players choosing to travel overseas and several set to participate in the Scottish Open on the European Tour this week. There will still be a number of players from Detroit looking to carry their positive play into this event.
3 Buys for the John Deere Classic
There are times when a young player just needs to have the lid lifted for him to really start making some noise on TOUR. I’m going with that theory this week for Davis, who stood up to the test time and again over the weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
He will go into a similar low-scoring event this week at the John Deere, and there isn’t any reason to think he can’t carry that momentum through this week.
Davis gained more than two shots on the field per round tee-to-green last week in Detroit, including more than a stroke per round on approach. Maintaining that iron game will be a key this week, and even as his expectations will rise from an odds perspective, I will buy back in on the young Australian to be in the mix once again.
One of the favorites this week will undoubtedly be Sungjae Im, who is starting to show some of the form that made him one of the best young players on TOUR in 2020. He has decided to pull his name from The Open Championship to focus on the upcoming Olympic Games, where he will need to medal in order to avoid mandatory military service in his home country of South Korea.
It will be an incredible amount of pressure on him in Japan, which certainly makes the withdrawal from the last major of the season an understandable decision.
Sungjae has to be liking the trend in his game, as he posted a top-10 finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He gained strokes on the field in all metrics and finally put together a complete week of ball striking, gaining strokes both off the tee and on approach for the first time since the PGA Championship back in May.
He is one of the only big names who won’t have his eye on the major next week, making him a pretty straightforward buy into the John Deere Classic.
The tournament this week is known for its first-time winners, which is expected based on the spot on the calendar. This will be a great chance for a player like Maverick McNealy to find his first win as Davis did in Detroit. He will come into the week off a solid T-21 finish in which he closed with a bang.
McNealy shot a five-under 67 and gained more than three strokes on the field tee-to-green while gaining in all metrics. He was really strong throughout his bag this week outside of an ugly third round in which he just simply couldn’t get anything going.
I expect him to build off of this week into another tournament with a weak field in which he can look to go low and put himself in contention over the weekend.