This week’s John Deere Classic is the PGA Tour’s last stop stateside before everyone heads across the pond for the Open Championship. We can expect another shootout at TPC Deere Run. There will be soft conditions on a course that already offers plenty of wedge approaches and birdie opportunities. If you’re looking for a potential winner, focus on approaches inside 150 yards and putting. These skills have been key to success at the John Deere Classic for many years.
With that in mind, here are a few players to target in your fantasy leagues:
Beau Hossler $7,800
Hossler has finished 25th or better in each of his past three events, and the majority of this success can be attributed to his ball-striking. This is rare for Hossler, who usually relies on his putter catching fire. In each of those three strong starts, he gained at least 1.6 strokes ball-striking (off the tee plus approach)—something he has never done in his career! Hossler is also the second-ranked putter in the John Deere Classic field on bentgrass. So if he can match up hot putting with his current ball-striking, we might just see him holding the trophy come Sunday.
Steve Stricker $7,700
Stricker’s game is predicated on elite wedge play and putting, which explains his success at TPC Deere Run. In his past 10 starts at the John Deere, he has made every cut, finished in the top 11 seven times, and won three times. He comes into this year’s event in great form, having gone 1, 7, 11, 2, 1 in his past five Champions Tour starts. This is basically a home game for Stricker, as he grew up just a few hours away. He is skipping the U.S. Senior Open to play here, so you know he’ll be determined and focused. $7,700 seems way too cheap for a player who has this much consistency and upside at this venue.
All signs point to the local boy this week. Zach Johnson leads the field in putting and is top 20 in wedge play. TPC Deere Run is the best course fit for him on the PGA Tour, so it comes as no surprise that he has finished fifth or better in seven of the past 11 John Deeres.
Harman is playing some first-rate golf right now. He has finished 19th or better in eight of his past nine starts, with his only poor result coming at the PGA Championship. He has finished 26th or better in five of seven starts at TPC Deere Run, including a win in 2014. Harman’s game is perfect for this course; he keeps the ball in play off the tee and is a fantastic wedge player and putter.