It’s the calm before the storm as The PGA Tour makes one final stop before the season’s final major, The 2021 Open Championship.
Despite many of the world’s best looking to prepare for The Open by playing overseas, the 2021 John Deere Classic is still attracting some of golfs biggest names with Daniel Berger, Sungjae Im, Zach Johnson, and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker all teeing it up at TPC Deere Run.
The John Deere Classic makes a return to the golfing calendar after last year’s edition was canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The event has been held at TPC Deere Run since 2000 and has one of the friendliest layouts on Tour. With wide-open fairways and accessible greens, the 2021 tournament looks set for another birdie bonanza. The past five running’s have seen winning scores of;
2019 Dylan Fritteli -21
2018 Michael Kim -27
2017 Bryson DeChambeau -18
2016 Ryan Moore -22
2015 Jordan Spieth -20
5 year average = -21.6
However don’t be fooled by the low scoring, it takes a good player to win here. Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, David Toms, and Payne Stewart all claimed their maiden break-through Tour victories at The John Deere. Other winners include Steve Stricker and Zack Johnson, class players in their own right.
The Last Minute Tips started well last week with both Joaquin Niemann and Sungjae Im recording top 5 and top 10 finishes, with Niemann being particularly unlucky by missing out on victory in a playoff.
Needing to pick players that can shoot low, a couple of key stats really stand out. We want to be backing golfers who have been hot on the greens and can gain shots on the field through stellar approach play.
As usual, we will pick three bets we like and provide one long shot. All prices courtesy of DraftKings golf sportsbook.
Coming into this week’s tournament, Patton Kizzire is currently ranked 15th in total putting on Tour. Needing a man who can get hot and stay hot on the green is a must and I’m backing Kizzire’s ability with the putter to reign supreme. Only Brian Harman, Kris Ventura, and JT Poston can boast better putting stats than Kizzire out of all those bidding for victory this week.
Currently priced at +5000 for the win, +900 for a top 5, and +400 for a top ten finish, I think however you wish to play, Kizzire should give you a decent run for your money.
Kizzire has had a good year. Currently ranked just outside the top 50 in the FedEx Cup Rankings, he has posted a T9th at the Valero Texas Open and consecutive third-place finishes at The Byron Nelson and Charles Schwab. He heads into this week with something to prove after missing the cut in three of his last four starts, but a T25th at last week’s Rocket Mortgage suggests that Kizzire has found his game. His recent John Deere form is ok, Kizzire has made the cut both times he has teed it up, finishing a respectable 25th and 28th.
Backing a man who spends most of his time playing on The Champions Tour isn’t usually my style but in a wide-open field, I find it hard to ignore a man who has tasted success at TPC Deere Run three times. Stricker tasted John Deere success in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and whilst it’s been a while since he has tasted success on the main tour, Stricker dominated the field just two weeks ago at the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship winning by six shots – so he arrives at a course he clearly loves in good nick.
Valued to win the tournament at +4000, I think the value play is in a top 5 finish +650 or a top 10 at +335. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain is superb on the greens and I’m backing the wily American to roll back the years and be in contention this week.
NeSmith is a name probably not known by many but perhaps surprisingly, NeSmith enters the John Deere ranked 10th on Tour for shots gained from approach to the green, only Russell Henley is ranked higher from those lining up this week.
NeSmith has had a mixed year. The American has missed multiple cuts but has offered any would-be-backers hope with promising displays at The Waste Management Phoenix Open (7th), AT&T (16th), and The Genesis Invitational (20th).
As iterated in my opening gambit, we are looking to back players who can be hot on the greens and give themselves opportunities for birdies. It’s clear that NeSmith gives himself plenty of looks, he just needs those putts to drop.
Priced at a juicy +10000 for victory, +2000 for a top 5, and +900 for a top 10 finish, I think there is some brilliant value in NeSmith finishing amongst the places.
LONG SHOT – Kris Ventura
Last week’s long shot didn’t pan out too well with Cameron Champ, unfortunately, continuing his recent dismal form by missing the cut at The Rocket Mortgage. However, we are looking to bounce back and I’m backing Norwegian youngster Kris Ventura as my long shot this week.
Ventura is currently ranked 10th on Tour through shots gained through the putter and ranks in 5th for total Eagles. In a tournament where the winner will shoot low, these stats make some decent appeal. Throw in the fact that Ventura is averaging 302 yards a drive, I think in Ventura we have a real outside contender.
Let’s not even pretend that Ventura is in good form, he has missed the cut in 5 of his last 6 events. However, there have been some positive results with a couple of top tens at the Safeway Open and Sanderson Farm Championship.
I think Ventura could have the game to compete for this week and a price of +30000 for victory, +5500 for a top 5, and +2500 for a top 10 finish I think is too big a price to ignore.