John Deere Classic betting guide: 10 picks our expert loves this week
Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from GOLF.com’s expert prognosticator, Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is the host of the HeatStrokes podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read below to see his favorite plays for the John Deere Classic, which starts Thursday at TPC Deere Run, in Silvis, Ill. Keep scrolling past Kannon’s picks, and you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.
We wondered in this column last week if it was becoming the “Summer of Rickie.“ It sure looks that way now, with Rickie Fowler winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic for his first PGA Tour victory in nearly four-and-a-half years. Fowler is not in the field at this week’s John Deere Classic, in Silvis, Ill. But if he wins the Open Championship later this month, we might as well call it the “Year of Rickie.” Can you bet on the PGA Tour Player of the Year? If you can find it, Fowler is worth a look. His odds to win at Royal Liverpool have been chopped from around 80-to-100-1 to as low as 16-1.
While Fowler will not be in the field for the first time in four weeks, it will be the third week in a row on Tour that we can expect another birdie-fest. Keegan Bradley won the Travelers Championship with a blood-red 23-under four-day total. Fowler won in a playoff over Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin after all three finished at 24 under par. And if you look back over the past 13 seasons, the winning score at the John Deere has averaged a shade better than 21 under. The 72-hole winning score prop bet this week is set at 262.5, meaning the over-under line is 21.5-under.
TPC Deere Run has hosted the John Deere Classic since 2000. It is a D.A. Weibring design, measuring less than 7,300 yards. It is a tree-lined, parkland-style layout with wide fairways, thicker rough than we have seen the last couple of weeks, and average sized, bentgrass greens. There is elevation change and the undulating fairways have some sharp doglegs. Ball striking is at more of a premium here than is distance or accuracy off the tee.
The skill sets I focused on this week are Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Putting (Bent grass), Good Drives Gained, Birdies or Better Gained, Scrambling, and Hole Proximity from 75-150 yards. I also looked at Strokes Gained: Total on easy courses.
There are many similarities in the courses we have seen the last few weeks on Tour, and thus there is some crossover in the correlated courses I used this week. There is some crossover in my picks to win here, too, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Last week, in breaking down Detroit Golf Club, I compared it to Memorial Park in Houston, Silverado, in Napa, and TPC River Highlands, in Connecticut. I used all three of those again this week. I also used Colonial Country Club, home to the Charles Schwab Classic, and TPC Twin Cities, where they play the 3M Open.
Another note about this tournament: it has often been held up as the poster-child for the ho-um, lower-scoring, generic Tour stop. But that’s unfair. It’s an underrated course, and the support from fans and sponsorship rank among the strongest on the Tour calendar. It’s a much better tournament than it gets credit for. I am looking forward to it. With any luck, we’ll have a few good Sunday sweats to make it all the more exciting.
To Win The John Deere Classic (and to Finish Top 20)
Adam Schenk (32-1)
The 2023 season has been a coming-out party of sorts for Schenk, a player who has ascended to 51st in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s done so with a runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship, a playoff loss at Colonial, a seventh-place finish at the Memorial, and another-seventh place finish last week in Detroit. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks ninth in this field for SG Approach, 12th in Birdies or Better Gained, ninth in SG Ball Striking, and 22nd for Scrambling. He’s been close many times this season. As it has been for many, the John Deere could likely be the stage his breakthrough Tour win.
Stephan Jaeger (35-1)
Jaeger cashed a Top-20 finish for us last week after shooting a 63 in Sunday’s final round. I like backing players who finish strong like that, in hopes that the momentum carries over. Jaeger ranks 14th in this field for Birdies or Better Gained, 16th for SG Ball Striking, and 17th in Hole Proximity from 125-150 yards over the last 36 rounds. He has six Top 25 finishes this season and hasn’t missed a cut since mid-April.
Chris Kirk (35-1)
Another player we were on last week who cashed a Top 20 in Detroit. As I mentioned last week, I love Kirk’s short-iron and wedge game. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks No. 1 in this field in Hole Proximity from 125-150 yards. He’s third from 100-125 and seventh from 75-100 yards. He is also 26th in SG Putting (Bent grass) and a past winner at Colonial.
Alex Smalley (40-1)
Rounding out the trifecta of repeat selections from last week is Smalley. He never quite turned on the gas last week and ended up finishing 47th, but he has four Top 25 finishes in his last seven starts, so the form is there. Over the last 36 rounds on easy courses, Smalley ranks fourth in this field for SG Total. He’s also No. 1 in SG Approach and SG Ball Striking and 18th in Good Drives Gained.
Patrick Rodgers (43-1)
This is a special event for Rodgers, who hails from nearby Indiana. He was runner-up here in 2017. Over the last 36 rounds, Rodgers ranks 14th in this field for SG Putting (Bent grass) and 12th for SG Total on easy courses. He’s 27th in Scrambling and 29th in SG Ball Striking. Rodgers has fared well on the correlated courses with two sixth place finishes in Napa, a 14th at Colonial, a 16th in Houston, and a third-place finish at the Travelers.
Byeong Hun An (49-1)
I mentioned that the John Deere has been a popular spot for players to pick up their first PGA Tour career victory. That would be the case for every one of my selections this week except for Chris Kirk. An is a streaky player. He’s an excellent ball striker and can make birdies in bunches. He has missed the cut the past two week, but prior to that, he recorded five Top 25 finishes in seven starts. Over the last 36 rounds, he ranks 11th in this field for SG Ball Striking, No. 1 in Scrambling, sixth in Hole Proximity from 100-125 and 23rd from 125-150 yards.
Full Tournament Head-to-Head Matchups (36-30-3 YTD)
Byeong Hun An (-110) over Seamus Power
Adam Schenk (+105) over Ludvig Aberg
Stephan Jaeger (-115) over Eric Cole
Alex Smalley (-105) over Eric Cole
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