The Confidence Factor: John Deere Classic

Buckle up, gamers!

This week is not for the faint of heart as birdies and eagles should be flying from dawn to dusk.

Save your grinders for down the road and load up on the birdie brigade!

Full preview and picks below!

John Deere Classic

TPC Deere Run

Silvis, Illinois

 

TPC Deere Run Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,286
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: L-93 Bentgrass; 6,000 square feet
Stimpmeter: 11′
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass and fescue up to four inches.
Bunkers: 78
Water Hazards: 4
Architects: D.A. Weibring (1998)
Purse: $5.8 million; $1.044 million, 500 FEC points (winner).
Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau (-18, 266)
Fact of the Week: The last first-time winner at the event was Sean O’Hair in 2005.

 

Notes:

  • 156 players.
  • Top 70 and ties will play the weekend.
  • Last chance saloon as the best finisher (not already qualified) will punch the final ticket to The Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

2017-18 Winners

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau
FESJC Dustin Johnson (2)
U.S. Open Brooks Koepka
Travelers Championship Bubba Watson (3)
Quicken Loans National Francesco Molinari
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Kevin Na

 The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of angles on the track and those who have aced this exam.

You need course form? Read the above.

You need keys to victory? Read the above.

You need course preview? Read the above.

You need a history lesson? Read the above.

Every week.

Every column.

 

Previous champions

Year Winner Total MOV (shots)
2017 Bryson DeChambeau 266 (-18) 1
2016 Ryan Moore 264 (-20) 2
2015 Jordan Spieth 264 (-20) PO
2014 Brian Harman 262 (-22) 1
2013 Jordan Spieth 265 (-19) PO
2012 Zach Johnson 264 (-20) PO
2011 Steve Stricker 262 (-22) 1
2010 Steve Stricker 258 (-26) 2
2009 Steve Stricker 264 (-20) 3
2008 Kenny Perry 268 (-16) PO

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 258; Stricker
Course Record: 59; Goydos (2010)
Defending Champion(s): Stricker (2000-today)
Multiple Winners: Stricker, Spieth
First TOUR Win (most recent): Spieth, Harman and DeChambeau last 10 years.
First Win in First Appearance: Last: Sean O’Hair, 2005
Low Round Last Year: 63; multiple players
Rookies of Note Last Year: Bryson DeChambeau (WIN), Wesley Bryan (T3), Rick Lamb (T3), Brian Campbell (T12), Dominic Bozzelli (T25)
Odd Facts: The highest winning score is 16-under-par.

There has never been a wire-to-wire winner.

 

Quick Thoughts

A month of Bentgrass greens continues as the last event with Bermuda was TPC Southwind the week before the U.S. Open. With perfect scoring conditions this week, I’m staying well and far away from those who don’t make plenty of birdies. Bogeys aren’t going to win the event this week but neither will par so choose accordingly.

The Steve Stricker Invitational Presented by Zach Johnson has crowned champions of all shapes and sizes. That’s hardly surprising because 90 percent of these guys can go low when required. The more birdies equals the more players with a chance to win but as we’ve seen above, the classier ones tend to separate on Sunday.

It will never be a blow out here because this joint is set up to absorb par-breakers. I have learned over the years this course will not hand them out from the rough very often. Keeping it in play and finding or riding a hot putter is the key.

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament; LTO= LAST TIME OUT; LW= Last week; LY= Last year this event. I’m tired of typing all that out!

Zach Johnson: If you’ve read The Confidence Factor linked above, this shouldn’t be any surprise. This is his home event, his personal major and he rarely fails to deliver the goods. In his last nine he’s finished T5 or better in seven and that’s with the distractions of being the star. It’s quite incredible.

Steve Stricker: Speaking of incredible, Stricker hasn’t finished outside of the top five in six PGA TOUR Champions events this season and has a pair of wins. He’s had every putt on these greens at least twice so the advantage is clearly in his favor making start No. 17.

Ryan Moore: Gamers who don’t dig deep enough might miss out that a lingering shoulder injury stifled his defense last year. He’s healthy and should add to his litany of rounds-below-par stat at TPC Deere Run. He was in with a shout LW before 71 on Sunday knocked him to T13.

Francesco Molinari: He’s the hottest player in the field without argument but for the second event in a row he’ll be on brand-new greens. TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm only had 120 guys and was just in year two. That playing field was level. He’ll have to have an incredible week in proximity and putting to pull off the double. I’m not putting (see what I did there?) it past him.

Joaquin Niemann: There was a tweet floating around last Sunday about Niemann and where his stats would rank if he had enough rounds on TOUR. I’ll provide the spoiler: REALLY HONKING GOOD. He needs to win to play in The Open (lost his spot when he turned pro).

Kyle Stanley: There are two theories in a birdie contest and one is hit the most greens to have the most chances at birdie.

Austin Cook: #NappyFactor was in full effect LW as he cashed T5 and qualified for The Open. He led the field in fairways last week and closed with 66 that included a double and two bogeys. #HOT.

Wesley Bryan: #NappyFactor is up to five straight as he returns to the scene of his first proper TOUR business. In 2016 he won for the third time on the Web.com Tour and was given an immediate battlefield promotion. He opened 66-64 in his first trip and ended up T8. He returned the following season, racked out 27 par-breakers and finished T3.

Aaron Wise: His first trip last year (T16) included 63 in Round 3 and 22 par-breakers so he’s a quick study. He needed 23-under to win at Trinity Forest in May and is 12th in birdie average.

Patrick Rodgers: This is weird to type but this will be his SEVENTH start at this event. He’s opened with 65 the last two and his 65-64 in ’17 saw him hold the 36-hole lead. He kept the pedal down on Saturday as he led by two after 54-holes before firing 70 on Sunday to lose by a shot. His MC LW might chase a few off but I’m convinced this is his white whale.

 

Next Tier

Just missed the list above because of a wart or two; order isn’t important.

Joel Dahmen: The “rules official” has only one round above 71 in his last six events and has played the weekend in 10 of his last 12. He cashed T5 LW for the best of his TOUR career. Piling on.

Kelly Kraft: Simplest of simple this week as he led after 36 and co-led after 54 holes last week finishing second. He’s in The Open and has nothing to play for except first place.

Andrew Landry: He’s in The Open as well as Bernd Wiesberger WD this morning. His 23 par-breakers in his maiden voyage last year and T8 LTO (QLN) is pushing me away. I also like 63 and 65 from QLN.

Chesson Hadley: Stat-pack star that also broke out of a mini-slump at TPC Potomac. Is there Bojangles in the Quad Cities then?

Brandon Harkins: It’s up to four straight and eight of 10 and he loves going low. Good combo.

Danny Lee: Anybody who shoots 62 here deserves a look. The Golf Gods, sorry atheists, surely will be looking down upon him after he gave his putter to a kid last week. If Sam Saunders can switch putters…

Scott Stallings: He’s 27-under for T16 and T5 in his last two here. He found his best finish (T13) since February LW and posted 63 in Round 2.

Kevin Tway: In a field of this ilk, I can’t ignore a guy with three top-10 paydays in his last six starts. He’s trending perfectly at TPC Deere Run.

Chez Reavie: Took two weeks off after the Travelers so I hope he doesn’t need a round to shake the rust off. This is NOT the week for that. He hits too many fairways and greens and makes enough birdies to take a chance on playing.

Harold Varner III: Last week I typed “straight gut”. There’s more where that came from!

C.T. Pan: This is the hill I will die upon until he cracks a big one.

J.T. Poston: Tired of seeing him in here as well? Not me.

Brian Gay: Seven straight. Fairways and putts.

Sung Kang: Part of the rules controversy at QLN as he finished solo third. 26-under here in the two starts from three chances.

Ryan Blaum: Sauntering along with four in a row T23 or better. I prefer those doing but I did break HV3 out last week!

 

Long Shots, Course Horses, Stat Stuffers, Heat Checks, Red Herrings…

Johnson Wagner: Ran off a streak of T7, T5 and T5 before MC last year. He was 49-under in those three events before 70-71 last year.

Norman Xiong: He led the field in SG: tee to green the first two rounds at The Greenbrier but missed the weekend. Surely he won’t putt as poorly this week, right?

Chris Stroud: Cashing in eight of his last nine at TPC Deere Run stands out but so does his uneven play since WD with a knee injury at Colonial. Caution.

Keith Mitchell: Checks plenty of stat boxes this week and his closing 65 last weekend is noticed. He’s playing for the first time as well.

Andrew Putnam: Broke a streak of nine on the bounce with a hardly criminal 69-70 last week. I’m jumping right back on.

Blayne Barber: Last 11 of 12 are under par and can putt. Try to catch them before the big finish.

David Hearn: I’ll trot out the “week after” theory and see if it works. He has scars here from 2013 when he lost to Spieth in playoff after not converting a five-foot putt for the win. The less encouraging news is he didn’t play well here before and hasn’t since.

Chad Campbell: He’s never MC in 10 tries and closed with 65 LW.

Daniel Summerhays: Something’s gotta give as he’s MC in his last five but plays very well here. He was 19-under after 54 holes in 2013 before cashing T4. That kicked off a stretch of T13, T8, MC and T12 last year.

Mackenzie Hughes: Started the year as “Mac Hughes” and didn’t make very many cuts. Changed back to Mackenzie and has found a bit of form recently with T42 and T13 in his last two.

Alex Cejka: Fits the veteran mold and is playing well with five straight paychecks including the best of the bunch (T13) LW.

Tyler Duncan: The streak is nine and counting but his 75 on Saturday LW prevented his first top 25 since Honda.

Whee Kim: LY he closed with 48 straight without a bogey to cash T3. He opened with 62 LW before ejecting. Super putter.

Seamus Power: His first visit last year he closed 66-67 so he found something. He’s another who feasts on the greens.

Sam Ryder: If the best chance at birdie is hitting GIR, I’ll take a flier on a guy who is 31st in fairways and seventh in GIR. Now, make a few putts!

Nick Watney: He’s cashed in 16 of 20 this year. Sometimes you need a guy who makes a cut or 16.

Lanto Griffin: Gut play.

Fades:

The road to success is filled with potholes. You don’t drive your car over them so why put them on your fantasy team?

Bryson DeChambeau: This won’t be a popular opinion this week but here’s why:

It’s his first defense and that’s never easy on mere mortals as he will be the ENTIRE focus leading up to the tee times on Thursday.

He will also be the ENTIRE focus as his use of a compass on the greens is no longer legal according to the USGA. He’ll be answering those questions on top of reliving his first TOUR win. I abandon ship when actual golf will be third on the list.

This doesn’t mean I won’t keep him on the bench “just in case” but there’s enough here for concern.

Sam Saunders: I doubt this will be cheered either but I’m not getting carried away about Grandpa’s putter. It’s a neat story and who doesn’t love The King? But the last two times he’s posted a top-10 payday this season he’s backed it up with T26 and MC.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

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