2021 John Deere Classic Picks: Our Best Outright Bets at TPC Deere Run
Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Henley
With just one week to go until the 2021 Open Championship, the field for this week’s John Deere Classic may be lacking in starpower, but that doesn’t mean that it is wanting for betting value. In fact, with so many of the game’s biggest names either playing overseas in the Scottish Open or taking the week off to gear up for Royal St. George, the door is open for basically anybody to take home the prize this week at TPC Deere Run.
Here are our favorite outright bets on the PGA TOUR this week:
Kevin Streelman (+2500)
Two weeks ago, Streelman was an obvious and popular pick at the Travelers Championship. He was fresh off four consecutive top-20s, had won that tourney previously and was runner-up the previous year.
An opening-round 67 had many looking smart early on, but a 72 the following day — hardly a total blow-up – left him on the wrong side of the cut line. One average Friday, though, shouldn’t distract us from Streelman’s strong run of form lately.
He owns serious Steve Stricker/Zach Johnson vibes, the OG course horses for this one. And while his record here doesn’t compare with what he’s done at the Travelers, three top-10 finishes in eight career starts shows that the Midwest man likes playing some Midwest golf.
Zach Johnson (+4300)
I’ll take a chance on Zach Johnson at this number. His irons were great the last time out at the Travelers. He gained 4.5 strokes with the approach, but the putter wasn’t good.
I really didn’t have any plans on betting him because his exemplary course history is usually baked into the number at this event and we usually just see him under +3000. At this number though, I’ll take a chance those irons keep going in the right direction and he can find a better week on the greens on a more comfortable course.
Maverick McNealy (+4500)
It’s hard to fathom some of these names at the numbers being offered this week for the John Deere Classic and that certainly fits for Maverick McNealy who is seeking his first TOUR win. He is just +4500 but everything is trending in the right direction as he has three straight made cuts, and has the skillset to be successful at TPC Deere Run.
This tournament often turns into a putting contest and that is arguably the best facet of McNealy’s game. He rolls it well, and bentgrass is one of his favorite surfaces. He’s coming in off a week at the Rocket Mortgage where he gained 5.5 strokes ball-striking against a slightly stronger field, and if he does that again he will be in contention throughout the weekend.
Zach Johnson (+4300)
ZJ’s course history at TPC Deere Run simply cannot be ignored.
With four top-5 finishes in his past seven trips to the course and a win back in 2012, he contends more often than he doesn’t at the John Deere Classic.
Normally, I would dismiss his course history considering he hasn’t won since the 2015 Open Championship, but this season, we have seen some older golfers win after a long layoff.
Additionally, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native gained 4.5 strokes on approach in his most recent start at the Travelers and finished 25th despite losing an uncharacteristic 1.5 strokes with the flat stick.
Johnson is an easy golfer to overlook in 2021, but he can absolutely contend at this course.
Russell Henley (+2000)
This is probably the worst field we will see all season, hence why Henley is as short as he is. Despite the ugly number, he remains one of the better ball-strikers teeing it up this week and is coming in hot, posting back-to-back strong finishes at the Travelers and U.S Open.
Over his past 48 rounds in this field, Henley ranks sixth in total strokes gained, second in SG: Approach and 10th in SG: Tee-to-Green. He’s been close to winning a couple of times this year, posting four top 10’s in 19 starts. His history at TPC Deere Run is strong as well, finishing runner up and T-27 in two trips.
If he drains a few putts this week he should be in contention and we get a decent price discount from other guys at the top of the board this week.
Doug Ghim (+6600)
With the field for the John Deere resembling more of what we would see in a typical swing season event, I’m starting my card a little further down the board than I usually would. This week we should be targeting golfers who can put up birdies in bunches, as the winning score is likely to be in the neighborhood of 20 under par.
I’ve documented my frustration with Ghim since he arrived on TOUR. We know he’s a great tee-to-green player who is going to put himself in position to compete often. But as one of the worst putters on TOUR, it’s been hard to imagine him breaking through to actually win a golf tournament. Recent trends with the flat stick however do provide some hope, as Ghim has gained strokes on the green in three of his last four events.
If he can keep that putter hovering above field-average, he should be able to give himself a good chance this weekend.