It seems like every year the John Deere Classic turns in one of the year’s most dramatic finishes. While time will tell what this season’s installment of the John Deere will bring, it guarantees to be a thriller. As the last chance for many of the Tour’s bright young stars to qualify for next week’s Open Championship, there’s plenty on the line for young stud and wily veteran alike.
In the past eight years, only five different players have claimed victory at the TPC Deere run. Steve Stricker owns three titles, Jordan Spieth, two, and Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore and Brian Harman once. Of those names, only Jordan Spieth is missing this week.
As mentioned earlier, there tends to be plenty of drama here — and there are plenty of reasons for that. Be it it’s slot on the schedule just ahead of the season’s third major or the fact that the layout yields more birdies than any course on tour, the John Deere is a fan-favorite each year.
This year, you can expect much of the same — both from an action stand point and from the stand point of who will be contending. TPC Deere run tends to see the same names and faces near the top of it’s leader board each year.
Here’s a look at those who will contend seriously — and those who are just (hopefully) cashing a check this week:
Zach Johnson — The two-time major champion and Iowa native returns to TPC Deere run looking to jump start what has been a miserable 2017 campaign. Normally, I can’t say I’d be very high on him this week except for the fact that he’s won her before and absolutely thrives at this venue. In the last eight years, ZJ has won or finished runner-up four times.
Brian Harman — After winning earlier this year at the Wells Fargo Championship and his T-2 showing at the U.S. Open, it’s easy to say that Brian Harman is having a career-defining season. Few players on Tour have had the type of season Harman has had and now he rolls into a place he’s won before riding a tidal wave of momentum. Harman is a must-start in all formats.
Charely Hoffman — When you consider how well he’s played in 2017 and his run at the Masters, it’s difficult to believe that Charley Hoffman’s last two finishes of 8th at the U.S. Open and T-3 at the Travelers marks the first time in nearly three years that he’s collected back-to-back top-10 finishes. Can he keep the streak going at TPC Deere Run? I don’t see why not? He’s been solid all year and is peaking at the right time.
Steve Stricker — The Wisconsin native has absolutely owned TPC Deere Run and the John Deere Classic. From 2009-2011, no one not named Steve Stricker won the tournament and in the 2010 installment, he set the tournament scoring record at 26-under for the week. On the wrong side of 50, Stricker may have lost a step, but he gets it around this joint well enough to warrant a start in all formats this week.
Daniel Berger — After a slow start to the season, Daniel Berger has begun to show the same form that made him the 2015 PGA Tour rookie of the year. In his last three starts, he’s sandwiched a missed cut at the U.S. Open with a victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and a runner-up at the Travelers Championship. Don’t look now, but Berger could be hitting his season peak just in time for major No. 3.
Charles Howell III — It’s not a flashy pick, but it’s one that will almost definitely collect a decent number of fantasy points — Charles Howell III. It’s been more than a decade since Howell has won on the PGA Tour, but he’s having one of his best, most consistent years in recent memory this season and is poised for another title shot — this time at the John Deere Classic. And if he doesn’t do that, he should still make the cut — something he’s done every week since
Chesson Hadley — While many are once again high on Hadley’s stock, I’m not sold him bringing it this week at TPC Deere Run. Sure, he’s coming off a win last week on the Web.com Tour, but the the 2014 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year still hasn’t done much of anything on the big circuit that would expect he’s ready to win anything out here except for maybe and alternate field event — like when he won the Puerto Rico open opposite the Masters in 2014. I love the human wind sock more than anyone — we are kindred spirits in our love for Bojangles — but I just can’t bring myself to start him anywhere this week.
Kevin Na — Many people are high on Kevin Na’s stock this week at TPC Deere Run thanks to a solid track record there — but not me. “Solid” is still only a T-8 and a T-13. For me, with all the other players in the field whose track records include multiple top-5 finishes, I can’t pull the trigger on a guy like Na who has struggled mightily at times this season.
Ollie Schniederjans — With all the success in recent weeks from rookies, culminating in Xander Schauffele’s win last week at the Greenbrier, many have tapped Ollie Schniederjans as the next to win big on Tour. That may be so, but I highly doubt that comes this week at the John Deere Classic. Along with it being his first time on property, Schniederjans has cooled significantly from his early season barrage of solid fantasy performances that made him a semi-household name among fantasy players.
Bubba Watson — Has anyone fallen faster or harder than Bubba Watson? Whether it’s been changing his golf ball or something bigger, there’s just something not quite right with the two-time Master’s champion. As a fan of Watson’s, I hate seeing him play like garbage week in and week out when we all know he’s much better than he’s been playing. As a fan, I hope he bounces back sooner rather than later — but as a fantasy golfer, I can’t get further away from Gerry this week, or for the foreseeable future.