Steve Stricker jumps from the Champions Tour to the main tour this week at The John Deere Classic.
Steve Stricker jumps from the Champions Tour to the main tour this week at The John Deere Classic.@SteveStricker on Twitter

Bet the PGA: Mike Kern picks the John Deere Classic, likes Zach Johnson & Steve Stricker, longshot Ryan Moore

The John Deere Classic tees off Thursday morning.

Welcome to the John Deere Classic, the last event before the Open Championship, the last of the four majors. This tournament wasn’t played last year due to the pandemic. And obviously, a lot of the top players won’t be playing because of what’s next on the schedule.

Daniel Berger is the fave, at 10-1. Brian Harman, who won this in 2014, is 12-1. Sungjae Im is 14-1. Russell Henley, who hasn’t won since 2017 but has been playing well lately, is 18-1. I should note that he is my pick in my yearlong pool that I have to take back in December. So don’t say you weren’t warned. I try to be as transparent as possible.

Kevin Streelman is 22-1. Cameron Davis, coming off his first win, is 28-1. As is Alexander Noren and Seamus Power. Zach Johnson is one of four at 33-1. He’s won here in 2012, and has four top fives in his last seven appearances, including three runner-ups. Si Woo Kim, Steve Stricker, who also has some good history here, and Aaron Wise are also 33-1.

Troy Merritt, who lost last week in a five-hole playoff, is one of those at 40-1. Dylan Frittelli, who won this the last time it was played two years ago, is among those at 50-1. Ditto Doug Ghim and Charles Howell III. That list also includes Pat Perez, Sebastian Munoz and Harold Varner III. Which probably means the oddsmakers don’t know quite what to make of all this either. Which means there could be some good values out there.

Ryan Moore is 66-1. He’s a past champion (2016). Beau Hossler, who’s had three straight top 25s, including a 10th last week, is 70-1. I’m not going to go any farther, but you certainly can.

To be honest, I don’t pretend to have much of a clue this week. Maybe I’m looking ahead to the Open. Doesn’t mean we still can’t try to come up with something profitable, right?

I’m almost tempted to take Henley, but because I have him in my pool I’ll pass. You don’t have to. I’m hoping he at least makes a reasonable run. All we can really ask.

Otherwise, none of the guys near the top are doing a whole lot for me. If you put a gun to my head I might lean toward Kevin Streelman at 22-1, and 5-1 for a top five, but I’m not in love. I’d rather play a few longer shots and take my chances. Sorry I can’t do better. That’s what a week in Myrtle Beach can do to a person.

For lack of a better plan, I would throw a few bucks on Zach Johnson at 33-1, and also +750 for a top five. I don’t think he can win, or maybe even make a real strong run, but he does have a track record here. You could do worse.

I could maybe make the same kind of case for Steve Stricker, who is actually even less (+650) for a top five. So somebody thinks they can each at least play well. At their ages that remains to be seen, but again we’re not talking about any kind of huge investment. We can save that for next week.

There are plenty of much longer shots out there to stoke your interest. The problem is trying to come up with the right one. Or two. I would maybe throw a little on Ryan Moore, at 66-1 and 12-1 for a top five and half that for a top 10.

Mostly, I would tread carefully this week. But that’s me. It’s the reason they make vanilla and rum raisin. Or pistachio. Something like that. Anyway, see you next week at Royal St. George’s, where I will tell you I have Rory McIlroy in my pool. I might have to ask for a mulligan.

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