This week the Tour heads to Silvis, IL, for the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run. Typically this tournament attracts a solid field even though it take place the week before the Open. This year, however, a lot of top players who have come through Silvis in the past have chosen to skip (Spieth, Molinari, Dechambeau). Heck, even Steve Stricker passed on the Deere this week in order to pursue another title on the Champions Tour.
The result is that the field’s highest-ranked players are Charles Howell III and Kyle Stanley, OWGR Nos. 55 and 56, respectively. So we can expect a wide-open event and a chance for new names to establish themselves. I’d look for another young gun to make a splash this week.
TPC Deere Run is a fairly easy course that puts an emphasis on short irons from 100 to 150 yards, offers ample width off the tee, and doesn’t require driver on every hole. It will feel familiar to players who have recently been on the college circuit or the Korn Ferry Tour (still not used to writing that name). We will see birdies by the bunch and a winning score most likely around -20 or higher.
Read on for some players to consider….
Victor Hovland $10,900
Hovland makes a great leverage play this week at $10,900. I expect most people to pass that up and use the slightly cheaper Morikawa or Wolff based on their performances last week. Hovland is a birdie machine and even more motivated to notch his first win after seeing his former Oklahoma State teammate triumph last week. Over the last month, he has been striking the ball beautifully, gaining a combined 33 strokes off the tee and on approach over four events.
Nate Lashley $8,500
Lashley makes a solid play this week. He is free-wheeling it after his win a few weeks ago. Yes, he missed the cut last week at the 3M, but he probably needed the rest. TPC Deere Run suits his game perfectly; he is first in the field in proximity from 100-125 yards, and he will be playing a lot of approaches from that range this week.
I’ve been on the Morikawa bandwagon since his days at Cal. His overall game is so well-rounded. He doesn’t have any notable weaknesses, and he isn’t afraid of the big moment. His play in his first month on tour has been consistently impressive. Last week, in his runner-up finish at the 3M Open, he gained a massive 10.7 strokes on approach. TPC Deere Run should suit him well, as the course and setup will resemble what he often saw in college.
Wolff was a proven winner in the amateur ranks, and now that he has his first victory as a pro, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win again this week. Over the past few years, he has had a tendency to stay hot and contend after a victory. The scary thing about Wolff’s performance last week is that he didn’t even putt that well. He gained only 0.7 strokes on the field in putting over the four rounds. If and when his putter catches fire, he could win an event by 5+ shots.