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PGA TOUR: Mike Glasscott's John Deere Classic preview

The second week of the Midwest run shifts from Michigan to the Quad Cities. TPC Deere Run, located in Silvis, Illinois, plays host as it has since 2000.

The field of 156 players teeing it up will tackle 7,286 yards for the second consecutive season. The par-71 layout will provide plenty of scoring chances as it does annually. 

Top of the Board

Denny McCarthy (14/1) is perched at the top this week even though he's yet to win on TOUR in his career. He stood toe-to-toe with Viktor Hovland at the Memorial before falling in a playoff. Never daunted, he signed for T20 at the U.S. Open before racking up another top-10 finish (T7) at the Travelers Championship. A super putter, holing out on the perfect Bentgrass surfaces this week should be right up his alley. Scoring is required this week and he will remind you he opened with 60 in his last event at TPC River Highlands. Last year he posted 16 under thru 54 holes and played in the penultimate group on Sunday before cashing T6.

Russell Henley (16/1) has already proven his ability to go low at TPC Deere Run with his 61 to close in 2019. Claiming solo second that season, he returned in 2021 and missed another top-10 payoff by just one shot, cashing T11. Henley is no stranger to making tons of birdies, one of the few requirements this week. Rolling into town on the back of four consecutive finishes of T19 or better, his only 2023 top 10 was T4 on Bentgrass at the Masters.

This time last season Cameron Young (18/1) was a regular feature on the podium. Flash forward to this season, and he's grinding to find a way back into the top 10. The last time we saw him in the top 10 was T7 at the Masters. I like that he's giving TPC Deere Run a shot as his ball-striking prowess should create tons of scoring opportunities. Who doesn't like having to circle a ton of birdies?

After turning pro in early June, former world No. 1 amateur Ludvig Aberg (25/1) hasn't been bothered by the direct deposits after the conclusion of play each week he was entered. The Swede has played five events, two as an amateur and three as a pro, and has been around on Sunday for all five. After turning pro in early June, he's cashed T25 at RBC Canadian Open, T24 at the Travelers Championship, and T40 last week in Detroit at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The clues are in there, folks, as he's posted 67 or better in five of his last eight rounds. He would join Dylan Frittelli (2019) and Sean O'Hair (2005) to win on their first visit to the event.

Canadian Adam Hadwin (28/1) looks to join his four fellow countrymen in the winner's circle this season. Losing in a playoff last week after posting 24 under suggests he's ready to take the next step. 

After a solid West Coast Swing with paydays of T22, T4, and solo fifth, Keith Mitchell (28/1) finally returned to the top 25 in his last event, the U.S. Open, on the West Coast! If risk/reward off the tee this week is in play, I'll remind you he's ranked second in Total Driving and fifth in SG: Off the Tee. Making his third visit, he cashed T7 in 2018 while MC in 2021. 

Taylor Moore (28/1) will look to add his second title of the season this week after winning the Valspar Championship, his first on TOUR, in March. His game was sharp last week in Detroit as he pocketed T4 money after opening with 64, the best round on his own ball this season. The key to his victory at Valspar was holing 64 putts from 64 chances inside of seven feet.

Emiliano Grillo (28/1) shared second place last year on his tournament debut, leading the field in GIR. This year he rolls in with a playoff victory at Colonial to snap a winless drought that stretched back to 2015 and his first start on TOUR with full playing privileges. His current streak is five of eight T23 or better, with three inside the top 10.

Course Angles

TPC Deere Run provides plenty of risk-reward angles off the tee and into the Bentgrass putting surfaces. Take advantage of the scoring holes and minimize the damage from four inches of Bluegrass defending the fairways.

Scoring is the angle again this week. The average winning score hovers around 21-under par over the last decade. 

The course added 21 yards and rearranged bunker complexes for the 2022 edition. The result was more of the same. The cut improved by a shot at 3-under, yet the top 39 players finished the four rounds at 10 under or better. The year before the top 40 players posted 10 under or better. 

The winner takes home $1.332 million of the $7.4 million purse, plus 500 FedExCup points.

Defending Champion: 

JT Poston (45/1) opened with 62, the low round of the week, and never looked back. Poston became the eighth winner in nine to register in the 20s at the time of lifting the trophy. His formula was the one necessary in shootouts: Hit Fairways (T12) and GIR (T4) plus avoiding bogeys (T1) and making a ton of birdies (T5; 22 total birdies). Poston and 2021 champion Lucas Glover (66/1) broke the streak of first-time winners here from 2017-2019.

Others to Consider:

Adam Schenk (30/1) has gone close twice this season, losing in a playoff at Colonial to Grillo and being outlasted by only Moore at Valspar. Bouncing back with T7 at Memorial after the playoff loss showed me what I needed to know. Last week he was one of seven players to produce 20-under or better in Detroit so he's ready for another shootout this week.

Eric Cole (33/1) hasn't been bothered by any success he's found in his first year on TOUR. The only paycheque he's collected outside the top 25 in his last nine starts was T39 at the U.S. Open. The highlight of seven paydays from his last nine starts was T5 in Mexico. His putter is top 20 and he's top 25 SG: Total.

After cashing in his last eight and 12 of 13, pronouncing Stephan Jaeger (33/1) to be on a HEATER is quite obvious. The best of the bunch was T9 last week in Detroit, a perfect warm-up for this week. Ranking 16th in GIR, nobody on TOUR has made more birdies this season. Asking him to circle a few more this week should excite him.

Stats Matter

Par-4 Scoring

T4Denny McCarthy
T6Kevin Yu
T10Taylor Montgomery
T15Aaron Baddeley
T15Chris Kirk
T15Nick Taylor
T26Akshay Bhatia
T26Russell Henley
T26Stephan Jaeger
T26Ben Martin, Brendon Todd

The last four winners have led or co-led the event in this category. Stretching back eight years, the winner has been T11 or better seven times. With only three Par-5 holes and a pair of Par-3 holes stretching 216 or better, dial in the wedges, and ride the perfect L93 Bentgrass surfaces to victory.

Rounds in the 60s

T2Eric Cole
T2Stephan Jaeger
T5Will Gordon
T7KH Lee
T9Ben Martin
T9Patrick Rodgers
T9Adam Schenk
T17Mark Hubbard
T17Brendon Todd, Dylan Wu
T20Ben An, Emiliano Grillo, Denny McCarthy

If it's summertime in Silvis, birdies will be flying like fireworks on 4th July. Most weeks, posting 10-under or better suggests being in the thick of the hunt on Sunday. 

Not here.

Last year, 10-under was good for T39. In 2021 the top 40 players posted double digits while the top 46 in 2019 hit this mark.

Posting low rounds is required to contend. Posting low rounds in three of the four rounds is a necessity to win. Paul Goydos signed for 59 here and didn't win. In 2021, Lucas Glover needed 63 in Round 2 and 64 in Round 4 to offset his 70 in Round 3. Russell Henley posted 19-under here with 64 and 61 in 2019 and lost by two. His 72 in Round 3 didn't help.

Find guys who relish making tons of birdies!


Kevin Streelman (100/1): Grew up in the Chicago suburbs and has posted half of his six paydays in the top 10.

Zach Johnson (125/1): If the magic is going to happen, it's going to be this week at his most cherished non-major event. Made the cut in his last 14 visits.

Patton Kizzire (150/1): Never missed the weekend from four chances, all T30 or better, but nothing in the top 10.

William Mouw (225/1): Plenty of up-and-comers populate this field annually. The Pepperdine grad turned pro in early June and has played four events on the Korn Ferry Tour. He's 57-under and has posted 14 of 16 rounds in the 60s. His worst round is 70, twice. His best finish was T17 last week in Kansas City. No chance he's intimidated by having to make a bunch of birdies. That's life on the KFT.

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