While most of the golf world has turned its eye toward the Scottish Open as a precursor to the British Open at St. Andrews, the PGA Tour rolls through Silvis, Illinois for the John Deere Classic, site of Jordan Spieth’s first tour victory back in 2013.
To the dismay of many, Spieth will play the John Deere Classic rather than head to the U.K. early for some additional links-style prep ahead of what could be the third leg of the Grand Slam. If you ask us, Spieth’s decision is a smart one. He’s honoring a previous commitment and thanking a tournament that gave him a sponsor’s exemption as an amateur. Also, Spieth will be the focus of attention wherever he goes. But the spotlight will likely be a little less bright at TPC Deere Run than at Gullane GC in Scotland.
In recent years, the John Deere Classic has been won a variety of ways. From Steve Stricker’s back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011, where he finished second in strokes gained/putting both times, to Spieth’s holed bunker shot on the 72nd hole and eventual playoff victory in 2013, to Brian Harman’s victory in 2014 where he finished first in strokes gained/tee-to-green and second in approach shot distance to the hole—we’ve seen everything.
With that said, we’re going to factor in a variety of stats this week in making our picks. We’ve included a look at a select club in each guy’s bag, along with odds from GolfOdds.com.
David Hearn 50/1
One of Danny Lee’s playoff victims last week at the Greenbrier Classic, David Hearn is still searching for that first PGA Tour victory. He lost in a playoff to Spieth at the 2013 John Deere Classic, and so far this season has proven to be one of the tour’s better putters. He’s currently 13th in total putting, fifth in three-putt avoidance (1.78 percent) and 34th in strokes gained/putting. His playoff loss last week also assured him a spot in the British Open, so there’s a bit of weight off Hearn’s back at the John Deere.
Hearn is putting with an Odysssey White Hot #7 long putter.
Tony Finau 30/1
Tony Finau’s worse finish since mid-May? T25 at the Travelers Championship. Other than that, he’s racked up six top-20s in seven events, including top-10 finishes at the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Memorial. He also finished T14 at Chambers Bay in his first major start. Finau is seventh on tour in driving distance (308 yards a pop) and leads the tour in average club head speed with the driver (123.9 mph). He’s 14th in birdie average (4.07 per round), partly because he's made more birdies than anyone on tour this season (334). If Finau can get the putter hot this week (he’s 137th in strokes gained/putting), we may see him on that private plane Sunday night to the British Open.
Finau’s driver is a Callaway XR Pro with 9° loft and a GD DI 8x shaft.
Kevin Kisner 15/1
Kevin Kisner has now lost three playoffs this season after last week. He’s more due for a victory than anyone on tour. While his game is solid through the bag, he might be best with the putter. Kisner is 30th in total putting, and T9 in three-putt avoidance (1.83 percent). He was eighth in strokes gained/putting at the Greenbrier, second in total putting and T1 in overall putting average. Currently 11th in the FedEx Cup rankings, Kisner could vault into the top five with a win at the John Deere Classic, not to mention finally end his second-place streak.
Kisner is putting with an Odyssey White Hot Pro #7.
Zach Johnson 10/1
A John Deere Classic conversation isn’t complete until Zach Johnson’s name is thrown in. Aside from his record at TPC Deere Run (his worst finish there since 2011 is T3), Johnson is coming off a sixth-place finish in his last start at the Travelers Championship. Johnson hasn’t been his usual self with the putter yet this season (currently 154th in strokes/gained putting), but the Iowa native may find comfort on a course he’s dominated, not to mention the hometown advantage.
Johnson is putting with a SeeMore FGP Black.
Check back Monday to see how our picks fared and which club(s) played the biggest role in determining victory at the John Deere Classic.