July 5, 2023, 12:16 am
The PGA Tour returns this week after Rickie Fowler returned to the winner’s circle after a four-year hiatus to take down the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Sunday tee times were pushed up to avoid weather, which cause an absolute dumpster fire in terms of coverage of the live golf Sunday morning, but that is par for the course these days. Fowler entered the day as the solo leader, but needed an absolute dart on 18 to force a playoff with Adam Hadwin and Collin Morikawa. Only one playoff hole was required as Rickie (who was in the worst position off the tee) was able to stick it to 11 feet and drain the birdie putt for victory. The win for Rickie had been brewing as he has been playing some excellent golf, especially as of late.
Another week of no elevated status for the John Deere Classic being played at TPC Deere Run in what is probably the weakest field since the swing season in the fall (not counting alternate events). There is still and edge to be had in weeks like this, as there typically is a congregation of bad chalk that we can pivot from.
This is a full 156 player field with the top 65 (and ties) advancing to the weekend.
Much like the past couple of weeks, there is going to be a lot of scoring this week, with a winning score in the 20 under par range with a historic cut line in the 1 to 3 under par range. This tournament typically provides packed leaderboards and produces great drama on Sunday’s, even without the game’s best names. In a contrast to last week however, there will be no prevailing narrative about player type here, as we have seen a diverse array of winners in the past. Strong ball striking and strong putting (as is usually the case at birdie fests) will be needed to prevail this week.
Located in Silvis, IL, TPC Deere Run will once again play host to the John Deere Classic as it has since 2000.
Playing as a par-71 at 7289 yards, TPC Deere Run ranked the 9th easiest course on tour last season. There is virtually no water to speak of on the course, and the undulated fairways are some of the widest on Tour. Tight doglegs, rolling terrain, steep elevation changes make this one of the kindest courses on the eye, especially on TV. It is a shame that not many tune in due to the weak fields, but this course is quite scenic.
Three par-5s, four par-3s and eleven par-4s make up the scorecard for this week. The par-4s are on the shorter side of things with seven of the eleven playing under 450 yards. All three of the par-5s play in the 550-600-yard range and are very gettable for the entire field. These three holes play as three of the four easiest holes on the course and feature birdie or better percentages above 30% (hole 2 is the easiest with a birdie or better rate of about 50% and a 4% eagle rate).
Golfers will need to be dialed in with their wedges and short irons as nearly 66% of all approach shots come from under 175 yards. TPC Deere Run does feature a higher-than-average GIR (Green in Regulation) rate and driving accuracy, the latter of which I will be factoring heavily into my modeling this week.
Greens are once again pure Bentgrass as we often see this time of year on the Tour schedule. There is nothing too tricky about the greens once golfers are on them. The greens are elevated and feature some pretty thick rough if golfers do miss. However, between the larger than average green sizes and short approach distances in, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for most of the field.
Here is a link to a flyover of the course:
As is the case with this event most years, the field strength just isn’t there. The place on the Tour schedule is the main culprit of that being that many players are heading across the pond to prep for The Open Championship in two weeks, as well as The Scottish Open next week which has gained popularity in recent years. We do usually get a look at some young up and comers (think Jordan Spieth in 2013) at this event and this year is no different with Ludvig Aberg and Gordon Sargent, both teeing it up.
Past champions of the event in the field included defending champion J.T. Poston, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Dylan Frittelli, Michael Kim, Ryan Moore and Jonathan Byrd.
As of this writing, there have been quite a few withdrawals that include Luke List, Webb Simpson, Charley Hoffman, Vincent Norrman, Brandon Wu and C.T. Pan.
The Monday qualifiers for this week are Reid Martin, Yuto Katsuragawa, Anders Larson and Kaito Onishi.
Here are the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. It is the most correlated long-term stat with success. Strong approach play will be key in giving golfers the necessary amount of scoring opportunities to contend this week.
- Driving Accuracy/Good Drives Gained– As mentioned previously, but there are a lot of tight doglegs and not many long distance par-4s, disabling the importance of distance. 4” rough awaits those who are inaccurate of the tee and leave golfers in save par mode, rather than attack mode.
- SG:P (Bentgrass)– Golfers are going to have to make putts on these fairly easy Bentgrass greens this week to contend. The soft conditions and short approaches turn this event into a bit of a putting contest, so putting will obviously be taken into strong consideration this week.
- SG: Easy Courses- Another metric to look at this week. I’m not going to belabor the fact of hos easy it will play this week. We want to look at golfers who thrive in these scoring conditions.
- Birdie or Better%- Did I mention there will be a lot of birdies yet this week? Ok, you get the picture. This one is pretty self explanatory.
Follow me on Twitter @mlafem10 for additional thoughts as the week goes on and I’d be happy to help out with any lineup questions you have. Let’s make some money!
DFS Top Tier Play
Look, the prices on every golfer this week are going to give you sticker shock, but the guys above $9K have earned it with their play this season. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there is going to be a lot of congested ownership this week, but it seems like not a lot of people are clicking on Taylor Moore and I’m confused. Moore was the winner at Valspar back in March and is coming off a strong week in Detroit with a T4, bouncing back from three consecutive missed cuts. Where I want to play Taylor Moore are when it is not a designated event with an elevated field and when the event turns into a putting contest. Moore has only lost strokes putting in five events in the calendar year and promptly missed the cut in four of those, including his recent missed cut streak. However, he bounced back in a big way gaining nearly ten strokes with his putter last week. He has shown time and time again the ability to flash major upside with his putting, but he also has more to offer. He ranks third in the field in strokes gained on easy courses, second in the field on easy par-4 scoring, and third in the field in DraftKings scoring on easy courses. Moore also has some history here with a top 25 finish last year and makes either a great starting point or a second man in for your lineups.
Others Considered: Chris Kirk ($9,300), Adam Hadwin ($9,800)
DFS Mid Tier Play
Bezuidenhout is going to be somebody I am going to be targeting in a lot of my lineups this week. This course is tailor made for his style of play. He is deadly accurate off the tee, excellent with his wedges and short irons and putts well on Bentgrass greens. That may be oversimplifying things too much, but the overall point is Bez checks a lot of boxes I am looking for this week. Bez is not going to try and be overly aggressive and make mistakes, leaving him in spots where he needs to recover and save par. The only question will be whether or not he will be able to get it going with the putter, which can be hit or miss, but Bentgrass is his best putting surface historically (gains a half a stroke per round) and has shown he can gain enough to contend at this event when he finished T2 here last year, mostly on the back of his putting where he gained over eight strokes.
Others Considered: Alex Smalley ($8,900), Ryan Palmer ($7,800)
DFS Value Play
The lower tier is where you can really gain an edge this week. It seems like (of the golfers priced $7,500 and below) all of the ownership is settling on Dylan Wu, Callum Tarren, Lucas Glover and a little bit of Carson Young. There are certainly cases to be made for why all of those are strong plays this week, but with the random nature that these birdie fests seem to bring, I can’t see having any of those golfers in my player pool this week. There are just too many options that are just as good (if not better) in this range. My pick of the bunch is going to be Nate Lashley on the strength of his incredible iron play as of late (sans the 2.5 strokes he lost on approach last week). Lashley has performed well in weaker fields this year (7th at Sony, 3rd in Puerto Rico, 17th in Canda) and most of it has to do with his aforementioned iron play. Lashley ranks 10th in the field on approach, which includes being strong with his wedges. His lack of power off the tee here shouldn’t hinder him and allow him to play smart, strategical golf. I will gladly take an ownership discount and plug in Lashley.
Others Considered: Scott Piercy ($7,000), Justin Lower ($7,000)
Keith Mitchell +3000
Eric Cole +3000
Adam Schenk +3100
Lucas Glover +8000
Dylan Wu +8000
Position Player Name DK Salary G Taylor Moore $9,400 G Christiaan Bezuidenhout $8,500 G Adam Hadwin $9,800 G Nate Lashley $7,200 G G REMAINING BUDGET $15,100 for 2 golfers