2023 John Deere Classic Predictions, Odds: Russell Henley, Chris Kirk Highlight Top Picks
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Henley.
It's always easier to write this betting preview when coming off of a win, and thanks to Rickie Fowler, that's exactly what we're doing this week.
He was trending toward a win all season, and right when it looked like he had no chance, he caught a good break off the tee on 18, stuffed his approach shot to three feet and knocked in the putt to join the playoff with Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin.
Fowler caught another nice break off the tee on the first playoff hole and hit his approach shot to 11 feet. Once again, he sank the putt and picked up his first win on the PGA Tour since 2019.
We now turn our attention to the John Deere Classic, which has drawn one of the weakest fields that we've seen this season. When Russell Henley and Denny McCarthy are the betting favorites of the event, that basically tells the story about the strength of the field.
While we're missing some star power, that doesn't mean this isn't a good event to bet on. In fact, the way the course sets up often leads to a longshot winner. And if we've learned anything from the non-designated events this season, it's that they can provide finishes just as good as the bigger events.
TPC Deere Run is a par 71 that measures 7,289 yards. The course features generous fairways and a number of doglegs. While this isn't exactly a less-than-driver course, the fairways should be easy to hit on average.
It's important to play from the fairways here, because the penalty for missing them is well above the tour average. All of this points to accuracy being more important than distance off the tee this week. I mean, if Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker have the best course history of any golfers at this event, driving distance clearly isn't a prerequisite for success.
The greens here are fairly small (5,500 square feet) and feature Bentgrass. Despite the small size, they serve as target practice for professional golfers. The average green-in-regulation rate came in over 70% here last season, and we can expect more of the same this year.
The winning score will likely be at least 20-under par, so buckle up for another birdie-fest. While making birdies is important, bogey avoidance has had a nice correlation with success at this course over the years. Ultimately, hitting fairways, hitting good wedge shots and making putts is what we're looking for this week in Illinois.
John Deere Classic Outright Bets
Russell Henley +1500 (PointsBet)
I was going back and forth on whether I wanted to bet Henley or McCarthy this week. While the latter is the better putter, the former is better in essentially all of the other key metrics.
Henley is one of the most accurate drivers of the ball, might be the best iron player in the field, and he has better course history. He's finished T11 and T2 here in his last two appearances.
If you like incoming form, Henley has rattled off four straight top-20 finishes. While I wouldn't call him a great putter, he has gained 5.3 strokes on the greens in his last five events. He tends to play his best on easy courses and against weaker fields.
Chris Kirk +3500 (DraftKings)
While I wouldn't have had Kirk winning twice this season on my bingo card, it's not out of the realm of possibility. There are a lot of reasons to like him this week.
He hits fairways, he's top-five in this field in proximity from 75-150 yards, he's one of the best at avoiding bogeys, and his best putting surface is Bentgrass.
He's coming off his best finish (T14 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic) in months, and he's finished T30 or better in four of his six career starts at TPC Deere Run.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout +6500 (FanDuel)
I always have a soft spot for C-Bez and the model absolutely loves him this week, so I'm more than happy to hop on at +6500.
He nearly won here last year (T2) and is quietly having his best approach season on the PGA Tour. He's not great off the tee, but he does hit a lot of fairways. On this track, accuracy carries a premium over distance.
He's always had a good short game, and he's a proven winner with three wins on the European Tour and four wins on the Sunshine Tour.
Let's add another winner this week.