Given that TPC John Deere Run offer little in terms of preparation for next week’s links test, and serves to delay the transatlantic journeys of Open candidates, one might have expected this event to take on a ‘second division’ feel. However, while this is hardly an elite PGA Tour field, the sponsors have managed to retain a handful big names. While still very much playing second fiddle to Loch Lomond, this field can still boast six of the world’s top 50 players.
Since the event moved to this venue in 2000, it has proved hard work for punters. The first eight John Deere champions began the week at 66/1 or more, five of whom were winning for the first time. Form students have claimed some revenge in the last two with obvious wins for Kerry Perry and Steve Stricker, but even in those renewals, the trends showing numerous outsiders in the places persisted. When Perry won in 2008, he was the only placed player shorter than 100/1. Well over half of those to make the top-five in the decade of form here were outsiders.
Course and stats
Driving distance is of little relevance around this par 71, which has never produced a higher winning total than -16. The key is tee to green accuracy to set up birdie chances, and a classy touch on and around the large greens to capitalise on them. Scrambling is far from straightforward here, and has therefore proved the most significant stat in recent years. In addition, it makes sense to study the birdie average stats, and driving accuracy.
Betting selections
1.5pts ew CARL PETTERSSON @ 40/1 (GENERAL)
With the main focus on Scotland, the odds are against a fifth European winner in six PGA Tour events, but Pettersson is well capable of keeping the run going. This three-time PGA Tour winner has been in consistent form lately, making 11 out of his last 12 cuts, accumulating a stack of birdies in the process. Sixth place last week represents a high standard in this weaker field, and with a pair of top-15s already at JDR, he has every reason to feel confident.
1.5pts ew JASON BOHN @ 45/1 (BET365, BLUESQ, STAN JAMES)
I’m giving this recent failed selection another chance, because he ticks several boxes. Finishing 21st was hardly a disastrous result at River Highlands anyway, and wasn’t beaten that far. That was his fifth top 25 in nine starts, usually in stronger fields than this. Bohn’s stats for greens in regulation and birdie average both bode well for this course, where he’s already made two top 25s from four attempts.
Taylor’s stats are also eyecatching. Long known for his putting prowess, Taylor has also been hitting a high percentage of greens in regulation lately, helping him to register top-11 finishes on his last two starts. Seeing as he also made the top 15 twice out of four attempts at JDR, 50/1 looks a fair price about Taylor carrying the required similar level to ensure contention against this weaker field.
1pt ew MICHAEL SIM @ 66/1 (GENERAL, 70/1 BLUESQ)
Five of the ten champions at JDR were winning their first PGA Tour title, so this could be the ideal opportunity to jump back on board the Sim bandwagon. Last year’s runaway Nationwide Tour winner carried many pundits’ hopes into the season, and nearly rewarded them early with second place at Torrey Pines. Injury curtailed the next few months, but top 30s on three of his last five starts suggest he’s finding his touch again. Sim has already shown a liking for JDR, finishing 11th on last year’s course debut.
0.5pt ew JOHN MALLINGER @ 100/1 (GENERAL)
It is 51 weeks since Mallinger lost a play-off for the event that clashed with the Open, whilst carrying our cash. Back then, this ace putter looked an imminent first-time winner but he’s undergone a torrid time since. However, things are looking up if top 25s on three of his last four starts are anything to go by. His long game stats have improved markedly for those results, especially last week when ranking first for driving accuracy and third for greens in regulation.