Daily Fantasy Golf Helper: John Deere Classic
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Let's take a look at some golfers to target this week.
|Key Stats for the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Birdies or Opportunities Gained|
|Greens in Regulation|
|Par 5 Scoring|
|Proximity From 150 to 200 Yards|
I always have a tough time with courses like TPC Deere Run for a few reasons. The big one is that it's easy, and it should be scorable. This means that a lot of golfers should be able to succeed. We're talking about some of the best golfers on the planet, even in a field that isn't exactly loaded the week before The Open Championship.
So what generally separates the best from the still-great-but-not-quite-so-great gets mitigated a bit in events like this one. You can't magically turn in eagles on par 4s just because you're better than the field. So the higher likelihood of birdies for the full field thins out the advantage. Does that make sense? It makes sense to me.
Anyway, this course surrenders fairways at a super high rate (around 70%). So with easy-to-hit fairways, what should separate the field is the approach play. Strokes gained: approach is going to be the key stat yet again. Running that into greens in regulation is vital. And then it comes down to putting conversion. Putting, of course, is hard to predict, so the best we can do is try to find golfers who get into scoring position, via proximity or opportunities gained.
Proximity from 200-plus yards has differentiated winners from the field, but the top-10 exceeded from 150 to 175 and from 175 to 200 yards. This all ties into approach and greens in regulation, so we're really in a way using different stats for the same thing.
Stats cited below come from FantasyNational and include the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour unless noted. Ranks are among the field.
Best of the Best
Viktor Hovland (FanDuel Price: $11,600 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: 18/1) - I kind of think Collin Morikawa ($11,700) is worth his price, but I'm actually going to lean toward Hovland this week, as he is the better overall ball-striker, and he is one of three golfers who rank top-15 in both strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: approach over the past 100 rounds. Hovland's sample is just 28 rounds, but I can buy into short samples of great ball-striking. I can't do it with great short-game, which is more volatile. Hovland has finished 12th at the U.S. Open, 54th at the Travelers, 13th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and 13th at the 3M Open in the past four weeks. He's playing a lot of golf, but the youngster has a real shot to get his own win after college teammate Matthew Wolff did it last week.
[Editor's note: Kevin Streelman has withdrawn.] Kevin Streelman ($11,100 | 27/1) - Streelman is one of the other two golfers in the field who is top-15 in both key ball-striking stats, and he has finished 15th, 35th, and 34th the past three weeks, lopping off a 4th at the Memorial. Streelman posted a top-10 here last year. He is a pretty bad bentgrass putter, yet nobody has gained more greens in regulation than he has over the past 100 rounds among the field. Even though all the eyes are on the youngsters, Streelman is in the mix for his first win since 2014.
Joaquin Niemann ($10,900 | 18/1) - Niemann is fourth in strokes gained: off the tee and second in strokes gained: approach in our sample, and he leads the field in opportunities gained. His ball-striking has helped him make a splash at the PGA Tour level, and while he has been a dreadful putter to start his career, he has positive putting splits on bentgrass, which he gets again this week. He finished 23rd at TPC Deere Run last year and has finished 5th, 5th, and 23rd the past three weeks.
Sungjae Im ($10,800 | 20/1) - The golf world is in such a good place that we're already kind of forgetting about Sungjae Im. The 21-year-old snapped a stretch of three missed cuts a few weeks back and has finished 7th, 21st, 21st, and 15th in the past five weeks. Im is second in strokes gained: on par 5s in the past 100 rounds, and his all-around game has led to birdie conversion (third in birdie or better rate). At significant savings from the other golfers near the top, Im is a pretty obvious value.
Nate Lashley ($9,600 | 50/1) - Lashley followed up a win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a missed cut at the 3M Open. His win came on the back of 9.3 strokes gained: putting, but he also picked up 8.0 tee-to-green. Lashley ranks 15th in approach and 27th in strokes gained: tee to green in the field over the past 100 rounds, and he is 23rd in the field in strokes gained: tee to green over the past 24 rounds. He's a solid value who should go overlooked after the missed cut.
Ryan Palmer ($9,300 | 50/1) - Palmer isn't a sexy pick in a field with a lot of up-and-comers, but he ranks 21st in strokes gained: off the tee and 14th in strokes gained: approach in our sample to give him great scoring marks: 6th in opportunities gained and 2nd in birdie or better rate gained. The proximity numbers check out, too. Palmer should be rested up -- whether that's good or bad -- as he has played just once since a 6th at the Charles Schwab at the end of may (35th at the RBC Canadian Open).
Joel Dahmen ($9,200 | 50/1) - Dahmen had his moments over the past few months, but he's still never won on the PGA Tour. He finished second at the Wells Fargo in early May, and he was also runner-up at the John Deere Classic in 2018. Dahmen is 19th in strokes gained: off the tee and 6th in strokes gained: approach, giving him scoring chances (3rd in opportunities gained). He has the game to excel here, and his price bakes in the risk.
Troy Merritt ($9,200 | 65/1) - Merritt has played TPC Deere Run often, including five straight years. He has yet to finish better than 20th (2014) but did come in 7th last week at the 3M Open. He did that because of his putter (6.1 strokes gained), but Merritt has recently had monster tee-to-green outings: 11.6 strokes gained: tee to green at the Memorial and 9.8 at the RBC Heritage. He's shaping up as a tournament option.
Mackenzie Hughes ($9,000 | 50/1) - Hughes has been lingering for a while, with two top-25s in his past five events, and he was 16th at TPC Deere Run last year. His stats aren't amazing across the board, but he's a pretty well-rounded option overall, and he ranks 34th in adjusted strokes gained in 2019. He's priced fairly, and that's actually more than we can say for some of these options in this range.
Sam Ryder ($8,900 | 50/1) - Ryder grades out eighth in strokes gained: approach and fourth in opportunities gained in our sample, and that's the type of scoring upside we should be seeking in an event like this, especially if we're playing tournaments. Ryder finished runner up at TPC Deere Run last season, too.
Vaughn Taylor ($8,900 | 60/1) - Taylor is a course horse, having played here nine times in the past 10 years, making eight cuts. He has finished 34th and 19th the past two seasons at this track, and he ranks top-20 in proximity from 150 to 175 yards and from 175 to 200 yards. Just seven golfers total can say that. Sure, it's arbitrary, but Taylor is also first in opportunities gained. That matters here, and he's seventh in adjusted strokes gained in 2019.
Brian Stuard ($8,800 | 65/1) - Stuard has been quite good in 2019, ranking 10th in adjusted strokes gained this calendar year. He's 19th in approach and 16th in opportunities gained over the past 100 rounds. He doesn't have great form here, missing four of five cuts, but he's playing his best golf in about five years.
Jhonattan Vegas ($8,500 | 65/1) - Vegas grades out 16th in adjusted strokes gained in 2019 and has been consistently solid relative to this field in the past 100 rounds. He's 2nd in strokes gained: off the tee but 85th in strokes gained: approach in the past 100 rounds. He can still score -- 25th in birdie or better rate gained among the field -- and is 5th in greens in regulation and 14th in par 5 scoring in that sample. Not great form at the John Deere in the past. He's a boom-or-bust play: 11th at the RBC Canadian Open, cut at the Travelers, 3rd at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and cut at the 3M Open.