Who should you be backing for glory at Deere Run? Keel Timmins previews the John Deere Classic
Venue: TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Illinois
Date: July 12-15, 2018
Course stats: Par 71; 7,268 yards
Purse: $5.8 million (£4.3m)
Defending champion: Bryson DeChambeau (-18)
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John Deere Classic preview
The John Deere Classic gives the players on the PGA Tour a final opportunity to book their ticket to Carnoustie, and that’s exactly what Bryson DeChambeau did last year as he won for the very first time on the Tour and then made the dash over to Birkdale.
Francesco Molinari makes the interesting decision to tee it up here instead of the Scottish Open having won for the very first time on the PGA Tour just two weeks ago, and as a result, he headlines this field alongside DeChambeau and course specialist Zach Johnson.
For these players, TPC Deere Run is no more than a pitch and putt, so expect lots of wedge shots and very low scores.
John Deere Classic betting tips
Course form has proven to be quite a big indicator around here, with Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker and Johnson all holding superb records at TPC Deere Run down the years.
But this has been quite a fruitful venue for the less established players, so I can’t help but throw some speculative darts at a bunch of big-priced players.
Firstly, David Lingmerth (50/1, 8 places) looks an appealing price given that he’s a proven winner on the PGA Tour, and he’s enjoyed a return to form in recent weeks.
The Swede has been out of sorts over the past year, but three consecutive made cuts, with a best finish of 11th last time out, suggests that he’s on his way back to somewhere near his best.
Lingmerth has only played here once before, missing the cut in 2014, but his accurate game is fairly similar to that of Stricker and Johnson, so it would seem that this course should suit him nicely.
Corey Conners (125/1, 7 places) is still in search of his first victory at this level, and this – one of the weakest fields all season – will give the Canadian a good opportunity to go close.
Indeed, he’s contended a number of times this season, yet he hasn’t quite got to grips with playing on a Sunday when the pressure is on.
He led going into the final round of the Valspar Championship before stumbling to a 77, the next time out he again shot well over-par in the final round in the Dominican Republic to finish 13th, yet he secured his best finish of the season two months ago when finishing eighth at the Fort Worth Invitational.
Conners hit the second most greens in regulation in the field last week at the Greenbrier, so he’s striking the ball nicely, and if the putter gets hot this week, expect him to contend.
Finally, I’m buying into the hype surrounding Norman Xiong (350/1, 5 places).
Casey Martin, the head golf coach at the University of Oregon, said: “At 19 years old, I think Tiger is the only guy I would defer to as being better than Norman. I haven’t seen much better than him at that age. He’s really that good.”
And as he made his professional debut on the PGA Tour last week, it’s easy to see why big things are expected. He shot 69-69 to miss the cut, but he averaged 336 yards off the tee, and hit 89% of greens in regulation.
Reigning Haskins Award winner Norman Xiong misses the cut by 1 shot in his PGA Tour pro debut. Xiong led the field in strokes gained off the tee through 2 rounds, but was 133rd in strokes gained putting.
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) July 6, 2018
As the John Deere is a breeding ground for the game’s up-and-coming players, expect ‘Panda’ – as he’s known – to at least make the cut and give us a good run for our money.