The best player prop picks for the John Deere Classic
"Driving for show, putting for dough."
That’s what a good pal of mine decided to mention last week as I 10-putted (yes, TEN-putted) the par 3 12th at a course in South Dublin, Ireland. His comment didn’t help my mood but has stuck with me because it is as just as valuable a statement on that course as it is at TPC Deere Run in Illinois.
The average John Deere Classic winning score has been 22-under-par over the last decade, and in 2018 American Michael Kim set a course record, shooting 27-under-par to win by a monster eight strokes. To win here you ca barely afford to miss a putt. In 2019 when Dylan Frittelli won, he made all 53 putts inside seven feet and made 60 of 62 inside 10 feet – an incredible 96.7% success rate.
Being solid off the tee is useful, and making greens in regulation is always important, but essentially this is a battle to see who will perform best on the dancefloor.
Form is a bonus, as is form at Colonial Country Club which hosts the Charles Schwab Challenge. Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Kenny Perry, and Jordan Spieth all won both tournaments, while Tim Clark was runner-up in both.
With all that in mind, and with all eyes on a hot putter, here are the four best prop bets for the week.
John Deere Classic 2021
Sun, July 11 2021, 9:00 PM
Matchbet: Zach Johnson to beat Steve Stricker (+105)
When looking at bets for the John Deere Classic, there’s no better place to start than Zach Johnson. The 2015 Open Championship winner absolutely loves this place – and has more than $3 million in earnings just from this one tournament.
Johnson has played this tournament 18 times, and while he missed the cut in his first two appearances, he has quickly grown to love the place. In the last 11 years he has finished 21st or better 82% of the time. He won it in 2012 and has six other top 10 finishes.
The year is 2047.— Timothy Frank (@FantasyGolfMan) July 16, 2017
Earth has been ravished by nuclear war.
Zach Johnson & Steve Stricker are in contention at the John Deere Classic.
This season he ranks third on Tour for shots gained putting, and 17th for total putting average, so there are plenty of signs that he can contend near the top of the leaderboard again.
Stricker is a three-time winner of this event, but only has one finish better than 35th here in the last six years, and I think the value in this matchbet lies with Zach.
Top 30 Finish: Troy Merritt (+130)
Troy Merritt now has four top eight finishes in his last eight starts, and comes to Illinois off the back of a superb showing in the Rocket Mortgage, shooting 18-under-par to finish runner-up, losing in the fifth play-off hole.
He ranked second for shots gained putting at that tournament, and has been inside the top 10 for putting average in four of his last eight starts.
His course form is very uninspiring – finishing outside the top 30 in six of his eight appearances here – but he was seventh in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial earlier this year, so that form should hopefully collate well.
With a red-hot putter and some nice current form, I’m expecting him to be in the mix for a top 30 spot this week.
Top 40 Finish: Patton Kizzire (+100)
It was hard not to be impressed with Kizzire’s ascent up the leaderboard in Detroit last week as he shot a sizzling 64 on Sunday to finish 25th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. His putter lit up on Sunday and his stats for the season are solid as well – ranking 15th on Tour for shots gained putting, and second for putting average. He’s one of the best on the greens.
Before his 25th in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Kizzire had missed three cuts on the bounce, but that isn’t a concern as in the tournament previous he finished third in the Charles Schwab Challenge – the perfect indicator to this course.
Kizzire has played here twice, finishing 25th in 2017 after missing 12 of his previous 20 cuts, and finishing 30th in 2018 after missing nine of his previous 10 cuts. Given his form is better now than either of those years you could reasonably expect another bump up the leaderboard, and this looks a solid prop bet.
Top Continental European Player: Alex Noren (+200)
A lot of the top European players have skipped this event to prepare for the open Championship in England next week, which means Noren looks like a particularly good bet in what is usually a very tricky prop market.
Noren ranks 19th on Tour for his overall putting average and is electric on the greens. The Swede has made positive strokes gained putting in five of his last six tournaments, and rolls into Illinois off the back of a top five finish in the Rocket Mortgage.
Noren has never played the course before, but has shown plenty of ability to put in a low round – shooting a round of 64 or lower at the Rocket Mortgage, AT&T Byron Nelson, Zurich Classic, and Farmers Insurance Open already in 2021.