John Deere Classic: Who’s Hot?

July 7, 2015

The Open Championship at St. Andrews is only a week away. Based on our calculations (see below), here’s a look at the PGA Tour’s hottest players heading into the final Tour tuneup at the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

1. Jordan Spieth – 365.66 points

Golf’s most sought after 21-year old returns to action after two weeks off, which also included time with teacher Cameron McCormick. But despite his lofty status these days, Spieth has kept his commitments, including an early week round at the Zach Johnson Foundation Classic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. But many are sure to question the Texan’s decision to play the John Deere, as only one British Open winner—Todd Hamilton in 2004—played the Deere since it moved to the week before the British, also in 2004. In fact, the last five Open winners were in the Scottish Open field the week before hoisting the Claret Jug. But Spieth has played well on the TPC Deere Run track, posting a 41-under par in his last 12 rounds there. And there’s nothing like posting a few red numbers to get ready for St. Andrews.

2. Kevin Kisner – 286.66 points

The good news: Kisner continued his great play with a T-2 at Greenbrier, his third runner-up in the last 12 weeks. The bad news: Kisner is now 0-for-3 in playoffs in the same 12-week period. But the 31-year old has been doing lots of things right in earning six top-12 finishes in his last eight starts. First is ball striking. After the Masters, Kisner ranked 84th in that category and has since climbed to 36th. Plus, he’s been hot with the flat stick, moving from 121st in strokes gained putting in early April up to 42nd today. Based on those stats alone, it’s a safe bet he’ll be in the hunt come Sunday—if only he can avoid another playoff.

3. Dustin Johnson – 265.67 points

Johnson has kept an extremely low profile since his flame out at Chambers Bay, so we likely won’t know much about his chances for a bounce back until he arrives at St. Andrews this weekend.

4. Tony Finau – 213.66 points

As expected, the rookie continued his run of solid play with a T-13 at Greenbrier, his seventh consecutive top-25 finish. Despite playing the John Deere for the first time, Finau likely has just one thing on his mind—winning. That’s because he still hasn’t qualified for the British Open and the Deere champ automatically gets a bid to St. Andrews. The 25-year old is well suited for TPC Deere Run, as he ranks 14th in birdie average, a key stat for a tourney that ranked T-2 in that category last year. True, a “must” win is a tall order, but the Deere has been home to many first timers, including last year’s champ, Brain Harman —and some guy named Jordan Spieth in 2013.

5. Brandt Snedeker – 208.33 points

Snedeker took a week off to prep for the British and will head to Scotland primed for his first Open at St. Andrews. With four top 10s in his last four starts, the 34 year-old is in fine form, and will look to continue his solid play at the British, where he’s finished in the top-12 two of the last three years.

6. Louis Oosthuizen – 185 points

The South African suffered through another disappointing weekend with a T-73 finish at the Greenbrier. He’ll take this week off before heading to Scotland for what’s sure to be an emotional return to St. Andrew’s, site of his biggest career victory at the 2010 Open. But before getting caught up in the fond memories, Oosthuizen’s got to get working on his putting stroke. He currently ranks 159th in strokes gained putting and 158th in 3-putt avoidance thanks mainly to his unfortunate knack for missing from within 5-feet. On the Old Course’s famously massive greens, getting up and down from distance will be essential.

7. Robert Streb – 184.33

It’s true Streb fell short in the four-man playoff at the Greenbrier, but you’ve got to give the guy some credit. After all, draining five birdies on the back nine to tie for the lead is hard enough, but doing it with a 56-degree wedge—which Streb was forced to use after accidentally breaking his flat-stick on the 9th green— is downright spectacular. The T-2 finish also marked his second top-five in the last eight weeks.

8. Steve Bowditch – 173 points

Bowditch is back in our top-ten after finishing T-15 at the Travelers and T-13 at the Greenbrier and will head to the Deere looking for his third straight top-12 finish there. He’s not a birdie machine, ranking T-50 in birdie average, but he is T-9 in putting average, a good stat at the Deere Run track. He’ll make just his second British Open start at St. Andrews, and his first since 2003.

9. Adam Scott – 171.34 points

Just like Dustin Johnson, when Adam Scott disappears, he goes completely off the radar. After finishing T-4 at the U.S. Open, Scott is again working on his putting and says he’ll stick with the 49-inch flat stick jammed under his chin. He has played at St. Andrews many times but hasn’t fared well in his British Open rounds there, missing the cut in 2000, and finishing 34 and T-27 in 2005 and 2010 respectively.

10. Cameron Smith – 167 points

Just one year ago, the 21-year old was struggling on the Australian Tour, with his best finish coming at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where he finished T-5. But that opened the door to a shot at the PGA Tour and his T-4 finish at this year’s U.S. Open in turn earned him a Special Temporary Membership for the remainder of the season—if not an invite to St. Andrews.

Inside the rankings:

*using GOLFstats player rankings, we determine the hottest players based on the last nine weeks on the PGA Tour.  Keys to the system:

*132 points for a regular Tour win.  All finishers in top-50 get points via a declining scale.

*198 points for a win in WGC events and the Players Championship, 264 points for a major win

*points lost for missed cuts, DQs or WDs: 10 for regular events, 15 for WGC and Players, 20 for majors

*All points get degraded 1/3 after weeks 4, 5 & 6, and by 2/3 after weeks 7, 8 & 9

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