2023 John Deere Classic Matchup Pick: Bet Mark Hubbard Over Garrick Higgo
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Hubbard.
As the tour gears up for the final big stretch of the year, the John Deere Classic appears to have suffered the ramifications of that stretch on the schedule. Of the top 30 players in the world, only two decided to make the trip to TPC Deere Run this week.
In fairness, this has never been an event to attract the biggest stars in the world, although it has been a coming-out party for future stars in the past. We'll see if it can do the same for some of the rising young golfers in the world during this iteration.
Outside of the outright market, I have a head-to-head wager that my model believes has value in Round 1.
If you haven't already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user input to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.
John Deere Classic Round 1 Matchup Pick
Mark Hubbard -120 vs. Garrick Higgo (bet365)
I want to talk about this bet from both perspectives because I don't think this wager has as large of an edge as my numbers indicate. My model essentially believed we had three areas to avoid against Garrick Higgo to get this bet across the finish line.
For starters, the off-the-tee data will strongly favor Higgo. I thought there were a ton of misconceptions about how this track would play since I didn't find regression with the dispersion of scoring with the driver that some have wanted to point to when running numbers. Placing extra emphasis on those metrics is where Higgo can close the gap.
The second zone we need to worry about comes down to par-5 scoring. Honestly, that's where the majority of my concern comes from when we dive into Higgo's legitimate high-end birdie-or-better rate when faced with those three holes. There's a chance Hubbard could spot his opponent a stroke or two on those holes in what equates to only an 18-hole battle.
The final piece of this puzzle goes back to Higgo's driver, a weapon that will help him fly past the distance we'd expect from Hubbard. Length isn't the only prerequisite for success, but it is enough of an element that we need to at least pinpoint the potential pitfalls.
I mention all of that so everyone can at least recognize the risks on the opposite side of this bet. However, there are a ton of red flags that start to loom in other categories that will push us back toward Hubbard.
Higgo's weighted strokes gained total projection for this course saw a 16-spot decrease. Most of that stemmed from a shaky approach profile that showed him having success on just the short par-4 or longer par-5 holes.
Unfortunately for Higgo, that's where most of the birdie-making potential comes from this week. The 11 par-4s highlight his downside considering that he ranks 88th in expected scoring. That comprehensive computation took all 11 chances and started to stretch him outside the top 100 when looking at anything beyond 367 yards.
Hubbard's recent form does leave a lot to be desired after missing back-to-back cuts. However, I still view this as a scenario where we can bet on one of the better iron players in this field and grab him against a golfer who places outside the top 65 of my model because of his ineffective approach play.