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The Field

This is the last full field event before the Open Championship and it includes 156 golfers.  Don’t be shocked if you don’t notice some of the names in the field this week because there are a lot lessor known golfers.  Many of the top players have already flown to Britain to prepare for the Open and the field this week is possibly the weakest we’ve seen all year.  Still, the number two player in the world, Jordan Spieth, is here as well as Zach Johnson and recent stud Kevin Kisner.  It may not be the most stacked field but it’s going to be a fun week.  A top finish could result in someone booking a last minute trip to Scotland to take part in the Open as the final qualifying spot is up for grabs here.  There’s also still a ton of great gpp’s on DraftKings including a $3.00 tournament where the winner takes home 100k.

The Course

TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Illinois

 Par 71 – 7200-7300 yards

 This is traditionally the easiest or one of the easiest courses the players will see all year.  The winning score here almost always hits 20 under par or better and some scores in the low 60’s will be put up every day.  The course is a par 71 and features three par 5’s, all of which are very easy and all which must be taken advantage of by those planning to compete for the trophy this weekend.  The par 4’s are much more manageable than a typical par 71 and only a couple of them tend to play over par for the week.  There’s a limited amount of water on the course and the fairways are pretty manageable although hitting them is obviously still important.  Length is typically not an issue this week and the player’s main goal off the tee will be to hit the fairway so they can go flag hunting on their second shot.  A hot putter will also be needed and Deere Run’s greens are usually pretty generous.

Last 5 WinnersUSATSI_8669886_168381090_lowres

Brian Harmon—2014
Jordan Spieth—2013
Zach Johnson—2012
Steve Stricker—2011
Steve Stricker—2010

Weather

Right now there’s some rain in the forecast but nothing too harsh.  If anything the small amount of rain will likely do nothing but soften up the course for the players and make low scores even easier to come by.  A small delay on one of the days is a possibility if a storm gets close.  Also keep an eye on the wind as the week progresses as one of the waves could get calmer conditions which would be a huge advantage in a week when low scores are needed.  Right now conditions are fairly clam but things can change.

What will it take to succeed at TPC Deere Run?

Birdies, and eagles.  It really is that simple this week.  Players will simply have to make a lot of scores under par to win.  Every bogey made will feel like a double as one hot round can extend the lead and leave a player well behind.  Even though a lot of putts will have to be made a great ball striking week at this course can more than make up for a cold putter.  In his win last year Brian Harmon led the field in greens in regulation but was well below average with his putter.  Hence players will either have to be dominant around the easier than normal green complexes or simply be dialed in completely with their irons.

What statistics are important?

The main stats I would place emphasis on this week is birdie average, par 5 scoring and approach proximity to the hole.  Players who have ranked highly in birdie average for the week have always had more success than others at this event.  Those who are good at bouncing back from bad scores with birdies should be favoured.  In this same vien players who score well on par 5’s should be emphasized this week since all three of the par 5’s will be excellent chances for the players to land some scores under par.  Finally, approach proximity is a good stat as players ranking highly in that category will also be giving themselves better chances at birdies with close approaches.  All in all, regardless of what stats you choose to look at this week, the emphasis is definitely on scoring and on finding out who can be a consistent course of sub-par scoring on an easy course like Deere Run.

Who has had success here?

Many players this week will have extensive course history to rely on and it’s important to know who is a “course expert”
 
  • Zach Johnson’s record at this event is borderline unbelievable. He’s played this event 6 times since 2009 and finished 2-2-1-3-21-2, it’s not a matter of if he’ll be in the mix just when.
  • Steve Stricker may not have played very well this year but he owns a pretty amazing record at TPC Deere Run too. In the past 6 years he has three wins and only finished outside the top ten once (11th).
  • Jerry Kelly is another player who has really taken to TPC Deere Run and has actually been improving here with age. He’s finished inside the top 5 the past two years and only missed one cut here since 2008.
  • JJ Henry is not a top name in the fantasy golf world but he does seem to shine brightly at this event. Since 2009 he’s made 6/6 cuts at TPC Deere Run and has three top 15 finishes in that span.
  • Finally, Tim Clark may be returning from injury this week but he’s still someone to consider. In five attempts at TPC Deere Run Clark owns a 2nd, 5th and 7th place finish.
Who has struggled here?
 
  • Ben Crane has the type of game that should fit this course but it’s never materialized into good results. In five attempts he has 3 missed cuts and only one finish inside the top 30.
  • Pat Perez is someone else who seems like a good fit for the week but has more bad finishes than good ones here. He’s missed his last 3 cuts at TPC Deere Run and over the past ten years his best finish is 30th
  • You might have to look elsewhere for fantasy punts than DA Points. He’s played here each of the last 6 years and has missed the cut every time except once.
  • Lastly, Ken Duke may fit the profile of someone you’d expect to be able to compete this week but he has missed 2 of his last 3 cuts here and his last top 20 here came back in 2008.
My Recommendation

Definitely put a premium on players who can give themselves a lot of birdie chances this week.  Whether it’s through taking advantage of the par 5’s or simply having great approach proximity on their irons, you’ll want a player who will have a shot at going low for the week on an exceedingly easy course.

My Pick to win: Kevin KisnerUSATSI_8681894_168381090_lowres

He just keeps knocking on the door and it looks like his time is near.  He finished 20th here last year and I’m assuming he’s going to be hungry after coming off yet another playoff loss.  I think he finally breaks through and gets his first win.