Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: John Deere Classic
Following Matthew Wolff's stunning win at the 3M Open for his first career PGA victory, the Tour stops at the site of many a first time winner for the John Deere Classic. No fewer than 18 golfers have claimed their first trophy at this event, which has been hosted by TPC Deere Run since 2000. Wolff is just one of a growing number of young phenoms popping up on leaderboards lately, deepening an already loaded cadre of world class golfers on the PGA Tour.
Those youngsters will get their chance this week, as most of the top names will either be traveling or fine tuning their game across the pond in anticipation of the Open Championship two weeks from now. TPC Deere Run will do its best but the Silvis, Illinois track is not exactly known for its stiff defenses. Off the tee golfers will contend with tree lined fairways and bunkers guarding almost every landing area and green, but this event still ranked in the top 10 last year in terms of both driving accuracy (70.77%) and greens in regulation percentage (71.35%).
The 7,268-yard par 71 also yielded birdies and eagles at a top 5 rate. While the last two events featured easy courses that were likened to TPC Deere Run for their geography, grass types, and expected scoring, no such speculation and conjecture is needed this week - this is a birdie-fest through and through. Last year, Michael Kim went supernova and thrashed this course to the tune of 27-under par.
The forecast this week looks to be hot and sunny, with no precipitation or wind concerns of note.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: TPC Deere Run
Distance: 7,268 yards
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Bentgrass tees and fairways, Kentucky Bluegrass rough
|Season||Par||Yardage||Average||O/U Par Avg||Rank|
Consider above that most of the courses that feature the best scoring conditions are rotation tracks in events like CareerBuilder Challenge and the RSM Classic. Golfers get four cracks at TPC Deere Run, and experience helps - the final two rounds have played easier on average than the first two rounds each of the last five years.
The par 4s have some variety but most noteworthy are three shorties under 400 yards. The 361-yard 14th has historically played easier than the lone long par 5, the 596-yard 10th. Both are still birdied at a rate of at least 33%, though, and a diverse ballstriking profile is required here given how important second shot ranges will be. Kim annihilated the par 4s last year, gaining 16.4 strokes to lead the field (no one was within 7 strokes of him).
Comparable courses are right in the rearview. As mentioned above, Detroit Golf Club and TPC Twin Cities served as a nice appetizer for the original artifact. Muirfield Village is another Midwest course, and TPC Summerlin also stands out as an easy course that shares a common winner over the past two years - Bryson DeChambeau won the 2017 John Deere Classic and this year's Shriners' Hospitals for Children Open at Summerlin. He also won the 2018 Memorial at Muirfield and was right at the doorstep last week but for Wolff's heroics on the 72nd green.
Golfers in the field who have performed well at these courses recently include Sam Ryder (T2 at the John Deere, T3 at the Shriners), Harold Varner (6th at the John Deere, T15 at the Shriners) and Joaquin Niemann (T23 at the John Deere, T10 at the Shriners).
These stats will be key to success in the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.
|Key Stats for the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
Ballstriking and specifically iron play pop every single week, but based on some of the recent results at the John Deere Classic it may well be the dream course for the stat gods who can't seal the deal at the average Tour stop. Guys like Ryder and Bronson Burgoon gain strokes on approach but at many courses those strokes are worthless because they are just as likely to miss a 9-foot putt as they are a 15-footer. But both finished T2 here last year with Joel Dahmen, who is a step above those two but still a big minus with the short stick.
All three gained at least two strokes with the putter last year, which means that there is simply no reason to make short game specialists a priority at this course (save a few specific names, as covered in the next section). It wasn't just a one year fluke either - in 2017 not one golfer within the top 25 lost strokes putting. And there were some heroes in there that we'd charitable describe as "poor" putters (looking at you Robert Garrigus and Tyler Duncan). With putting equalized, finding the golfers who find the most birdie opportunities relative to the field is a priority this week. Enter opportunities gained, which isolates greens and fringes in regulation (or under regulation) that are within 15 feet of the cup.
Par 5s will be important this week, but not because they are automatic birdies. The par 3s and par 4s at TPC Deere Run are much easier to score on than the average course, whereas par 5s birdies or better have actually been right around average or a little below each of the past five seasons.
Course History Studs
Reports that the PGA Tour considered renaming this event the Zach Johnson Classic have been discredited, but ZJ still has his name all over this course. Counting backwards from last year through 2012, Johnson has finished T16, T5, T34, T3, solo 2nd, T2, and 1st.
Johnson Wagner bucks the trend of elite ballstrikers who dominate this course, as he has finished T16, MC, T5, T5, and T7 over the last five years.
Scott Brown has four finishes inside the top 25 in the last five years, with a missed cut in 2015 the only blemish.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.