It’s the week before the British Open, or Open Championship as it’s called everywhere else on the planet, which means it must be the John Deere Classic. Once upon a time this tournament, which is held in Illinois near the Iowa border, was known as the Quad Cities Classic and was actually a “satellite” event on the PGA Tour. This year it’s the last stop on a three-week Midwest swing. So much for the history/geography lesson.
The field isn’t star-studded, to say the least, and the scores usually go real low. The favorites are some guys you might not have heard much of but are showing tons of promise for the future. Collin Morikawa, who is 22 and nearly won last week’s 3M Open in Minnesota, is listed at 14-1. Victor Hovland, who’s 21, is 16-1. And 20-year-old Matthew Wolff, the two-time U.S. Amateur champion who eagled the last hole to win the 3M, is 20-1. How’s that for youth being served?
That doesn’t mean any of them will win. It just means the guys who set the odds are taking all three seriously, for whatever that’s worth.
We should mention that up for grabs is a spot in the British field for the highest top five finisher who was not yet qualified. Pretty nice perk.
Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champ who closed well to tie for seventh last week, is also 20-1. As is Charles Howell III, who has a good track record on this course but doesn’t seem to win very often. Or, for that matter, really come too close too often. But he is having his best season in awhile. Kevin Streelman is 25-1. He tied for seventh here last year and has been playing well. Brian Harman, who won this thing in 2014, is 28-1. Ditto Joaquin Niemann, another youngster who had two tie for fifths in back-to-back starts before last week’s tie for 23rd. When, of course, I had him as one of my three picks. Sungjae Im, who is on place to play in 40 tournaments this season, is also 28-1.
Daniel Berger is 31-1. Ryan Moore is 33-1. Zach Johnson, who has been fifth or better here in five of his seven appearances, is 35-1. But he’s not having a good season. And I have him in my yearlong pool that I have to take back in December. We should all know by now how that usually goes. At least this year. Kyle Stanley is 40-1, along with Sam Burns. Jason Kokrak and Martin Laird are 45-1. Yeah, it’s that kind of week. But that usually means there’s some decent values to be had. You just have to find the right ones.
Defending champ Michael Kim is 300-1. Just in case you were wondering. And oops, almost forgot Nate Lashley, who was such a great story two weeks ago when he won the Rocket Mortgage in Detroit as like the 375th-ranked player in the world, is 66-1.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have much of a clue. Maybe I’m already looking ahead to the British. But we’ll give it a shot anyway, just because. There’s so many ways you could go. I’ll try Joaquin Niemann again, at 28-1. And Kevin Streelman, at 25-1. And, for what feels like the 100th time in the last month, I’ll try Charles Howell III at 20-1. All we can do is make educated projections and one pays off. I’ve had four winners this year, and several close calls, most at really good odds. So here’s to making it a handful, and having some momentum heading over to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, which will be hosting the oldest major for the first time since 1951.
Joaquin Niemann (28-1)
Kevin Streelman (25-1)
Charles Howell III (20-1)