It’s the calm before the storm. We’re now just over a week away from the fourth and final major of the season, though the calm isn’t that calm at all, as the PGA Tour heads to Illinois for the attack-minded golf-inducing John Deere Classic, played at TPC River Deere.
This week marks an opportunity for those players that aren’t currently ranked among the most elite in the world, as very few top-tier players have opted to feature in Illinois, so there’s a real chance for someone outside of the top 40 or 50 to show what they’re made of.
2019 Winner Dylan Frittelli, who right now is the world number 94, will look to defend his crown, while players such as Russell Henley and Kevin Streelman, both of whom are ever so slightly outside of the top 50 will look to get seriously involved.
What will the winner look like?
Last week in Detroit, players were tested off the tee. Fairways were tight and long; accurate hitters were rewarded. This week, things will be different. Famously, the John Deere Classic is set up for attacking golf. Accuracy off the tee isn’t overly important, as players can score low without finding the optimum fairway position. Low scoring is the norm at TPC River Deere. When the tournament was last held, in 2019, Dylan Frittelli won with a score of -21, while 2018 winner Michael Kim finished at -27, the tournament record.
Winning scores of -26 have also been recorded, with the general winning scoring being around -20. Only one of the last six winners has failed to finish at least 20 shots under par, which is telling. Expect lots of aggressive play, lots of birdies, and lots of players going seriously under par.
Those who typically do well at the John Deere are those who can get in close with the shorter irons, wedges, and from around the green. Those gaining strokes with the putter also tend to thrive at this location, meaning strokes gained: putting should be factored into the pre-tournament thinking if you’re looking to nail the winner at the sportsbook.
The question is who stands out as a viable sportsbook option? Below are a few players that for one reason or another, warrant betting support.
Russell Henley +2000
As mentioned in this week’s fantasy preview, with the absence of so many top players, Russell Henley is up there with the absolute best in this field and thus this is a big chance. He’s played well on several occasions this season, while his recent form has been strong, finishing inside the top 20 at both the US Open and the Travellers Championship.
When holding the lead for a time at the former, Henley showed the wider golfing public that he’s a player to take very seriously, especially when many of the big-name players aren’t involved.
His performance when finishing second at this event in 2019 sticks out, and his scoring on that occasion, of those that have played at least four rounds here in the last five seasons, makes him the fourth-best scorer on average in this field. He’s also behind only 2019 Dylan Frittelli in terms of strokes gained: total, while he ranks highly in categories that are going to be important such as strokes gained: putting and strokes gained: approach.
When it comes to strokes gained: approach, Henley is currently the fourth-best player on the PGA Tour, so expect him to hit plenty of greens, as he often does, being the 18th best player on tour for greens in regulation.
The three-time PGA Tour winner, who right now is number 26 in the world for strokes gained: tee-to-green, ranks as one of the elite players in this line-up. Expect him to go close.
Sam Ryder +350
Skipping the top 10 and the top 20 this week, there’s a top 30 bet that looks to represent tremendous value for money at odds of +.
Ryder isn’t going to be a popular outright winner bet, but there are several reasons why he may just finish in a respectable position. First and foremost, he’s played well here before, and recently too, finishing second in 2017 and 18th in 2018. There’s no guarantee that he will repeat that form, but even a slightly lesser showing should see him make a good fist of hitting the top 30.
The fact that he’s the fifth-best in the field in terms of strokes gained: putting on this track, not to mention the fourth-best in terms of strokes gained: overall, is very eye-catching. Ryder is a man to support this week. You can do that by betting on him to slot into the top 30 come Sunday evening.
Andrew Landry +250
Onto the top 40 and a player that stands out here is Andrew Landry. Much like Ryder, Landry won’t be popular when it comes to the outright market, but he’s a player that could easily do well here.
This will be the fourth time that Landry has played at the John Deere. He’s already locked in top 10’s, finishing eighth in 2016 and third when the event was last played in 2019.
In his 12 rounds at TPC River Deere, Landry has clocked some impressive strokes gained numbers, ranking in the top 30 in five of the main six categories, as well as ranking as the eighth-best in this field in terms of strokes gained: total at this competition in the last five seasons. Such facts make him an excellent candidate for a top 40 finish at what may just turn out to be generous odds.