Golf Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for John Deere Classic, Scottish Open
John David Mercer, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Sungjae Im
- There are two intriguing golf tournaments this weekend: The John Deere Classic and The Scottish Open.
- Our experts detail their favorite bets for this weekend's golf action on both sides of the pond:
The 2019 Open Championship is looming but that’s for next weekend. This weekend is about the John Deere Classic and the Scottish Open.
It doesn’t happen often, but this weekend the bigger tournament is on the European Tour, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler teeing it up in Scotland and exactly zero top-50 players at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t any juice to the John Deere as wunderkinds Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland top the odds at TPC Deere Run.
Here are our staff’s favorite plays on both sides of the Mighty Atlantic:
John Deere Classic Betting Picks
The Bet: Sungjae Im Top-20 Finish (+110)
Im has been in solid form for a couple months now. He’s finished 21st or better in four straight events after going through a mid-season swoon.
But his game is back on track now and he’s one of the top-five players in this weak field. Wolff, Morikawa and Hovland have drawn the young gun attention recently, but Im is just 21 years old and deserves to be mentioned with this new crop of young talent.
The Bet: Kyle Stanley (-105) over Zach Johnson
From the years 2009 through 2015, Johnson recorded six top-three finishes at the John Deere. In his last 40 rounds at this event, he’s broken par 38 times. All told, he’s cashed more than $3 million here. Nobody loves this tourney more than the local guy, who’s an absolute Quad Cities legend.
And so, of course, I’m fading him this week.
Look, I understand why anyone would find this a foolish wager, but this is a different ZJ than the one who’s been coming here for years. He recently fell outside the world’s top-100 and in 14 starts this year, he’s yet to finish better than 16th place.
Stanley, meanwhile, has been trending in the right direction after a poor start to the year. He’s an above-average ball-striker and while he doesn’t have the course history of Johnson, he has played well at TPC Deere Run before. I like him as the underdog in this one.
The Bet: Sungjae Im (-105) over Lucas Glover
Per my course backtesting, the most predictive metrics of success in our FantasyLabs models have been recent form with hitting greens, long-term birdie average, par-5 scoring and distance off the tee, among others.
Im is superior to Glover in literally all of those categories, and he’s now been inside the top 25 in each of his last four tournaments. Glover finished seventh last week, but he missed the two cuts prior to that and has been more boom-or-bust.
Why exactly is Im the underdog here?
The Bet: Vaughn Taylor (-105) over Harold Varner III
Taylor is one of my favorite DFS plays this week, and I’ll gladly take him as short dog against Varner. Their long-term form in the FantasyLabs models is close to a wash, but I’m mostly targeting Taylor’s recent form (Taylor listed first):
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: 68.8 vs. 70.4
- Birdies per tournament: 17.3 vs. 11.0
- Adjusted strokes on par 5s: -2.7 vs. -2.5
Additionally, over their past 24 rounds, Taylor ranks 13th in Strokes Gained: Approach, compared to 102nd for Varner, respectively.
While Varner has the driving distance edge on Taylor, Taylor has still been incredibly efficient on par 5s during this run of exceptional play. TPC Deere Run features three par 5s from 550-600 yards and he ranks 18th in par-5 efficiency from such distances, compared to 103rd for Varner.
The Bet: Scott Brown (-110) over Jason Dufner
If you’re a course history truther like I am, then this line is flat-out wrong. Dufner hasn’t teed it up at the John Deere Classic since 2011, when he missed the cut for the second consecutive year.
Meanwhile, TPC Deere Run has been one of the more profitable stops on tour for Scott Brown, as he has six top 25 finishes in his last 7 starts here, including a couple of top 10s.
If we look at recent form, both missed the cut two weeks ago in Detroit but last week in Minnesota was a different story. Dufner lost two Strokes:Total to the field, finishing in 66th place. While Scott Brown gained seven Stokes:Total over the field, led by his ball-striking, and went on to finish 15th
Dr. Lou Riccio
The Bet: Sam Ryder Top-10 Finish (+650)
These are really high odds on someone who rates out really well at this course. Ryder is fifth in proximity from the crucial 125-`150-yard distance over the past 50 rounds, according to FantasyNational, and he’s ninth in opportunities gained.
This will be another birdie-fest, and Ryder should take advantage of having a wedge in his hand.
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.
Scottish Open Betting Picks
The Bet: Matthew Fitzpatrick Top-10 Finish (+225)
Short odds here, but I’ll be keeping a very close eye on Fitzpatrick at The Renaissance Club leading into next week’s Open Championship.
He’s been good this year, but still hasn’t quite realized his immense potential, with a runner-up on each major tour, but no wins yet for the first time in five years.
The good news about Fitz is that he owns the talent and mentality to put his game into a different gear and go really low, as evidenced by low rounds of 67 at the Masters, 65 at the PGA Championship and 68 at the U.S. Open. The bad news is that he can similarly blow up in the same situations, as his high rounds in those same three majors this year were 78, 76 and 72, respectively.
He’s listed at the same price this week as Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matt Wallace, each of whom I put in the same category – guys I like this week, but more for what it could mean next week at Royal Portrush.
The Bet: Eduardo Molinari Top-10 Finish (+800), Zander Lombard Top-20 Finish (+600)
The field is might be too tough for Eduardo Molinari and Zander Lombard, but both finished inside the top 10 at the Irish Open, and I like them to build on those results this week. Molinari is on the card at +800 to top 10, while Lombard is +600 to top 20.