This week’s John Deere Classic is one of the weakest non-opposite event fields that I can recall. You might see a young player grab his first victory or a wily veteran break that long win drought. This event is a key chance to help secure status for next season and also a chance to get into The Open in a couple weeks. So what does it take to succeed at TPC Deere Run, the host course for the John Deere Classic? It’s pretty simple: elite iron play and a hot putter. Driving and the around-the-green game have less importance this week than a standard week on the PGA Tour. So let’s take a look at a few players to target:
Patrick Rodgers $8,800
With the lack of annual midwest PGA Tour stops, this is as close to a home event as Rodgers will get having grown up four hours away in Indiana. He has made the last four cuts at the Deere, including a second place finish in 2017. Rodgers has always been known as a solid driver and elite putter. His glaring weakness is around the green, but that skill isn’t required as much here. Over the course of his career, he has been a below average iron player but has gained strokes in seven of his last eight events in that metric. If he can combine his long term strength of putting with an improved iron game, he might just pull off the win this week.
John Huh $7,800
Huh has quietly been playing some great golf as he has finished 12th, 25th, and 13th in his last three starts, gaining strokes both off the tee and on approach in each start. He has made four of his last five cuts at this event, including a 7th in 2018. Huh is the 9th overall ranked player in my data model this week as he is above average in every metric with elite birdie upside as his proximity stats are trending heavily upwards across the board. If Huh can find a hot putter this week, look for him in contention.
Zach Johnson $7,200
As you probably know, Johnson grew up a few hours away in Iowa and he absolutely adores this event in front of hometown fans. Johnson has had elite success here, finishing top 40 in each of his last 12 appearances (seven of which were top-five finishes). Now, yes I know his game has been deteriorating over the years but in this super weak field, this is way too cheap of a price for the consistency and upside that Johnson brings.