In the final tune-up event before the season’s final major — The Open — next week at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, the PGA Tour is in Silvis, Illinois, this week for the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.
The field at the John Deere this week includes the likes of newest Tour winner Matthew Wolff, his college teammate Viktor Hovland, Zach Johnson, Charles Howell III and more. As an added incentive, the highest finisher among the top 5 — not otherwise exempt — receives a spot in next week’s Open.
Though the Deere doesn’t feature the most star-studded field we’ve seen this season, it is a course that lends itself to exciting finishes… though it’s hard to imagine a more exciting finish than last week’s 3M Open where Wolff poured in a 26-footer for eagle on the 72nd hole to top Bryson DeChambeau, who made eagle there moments earlier, and Colin Morikawa (also in the Deere field).
So which players should you be keeping an eye on? We asked our caddies. Here’s who they like in the Quad Cities and why…
- Daniel Berger. “I think he’s playing better and starting to trend. He’s only missed the cut once in nine starts since April – the U.S. Open – and he’s coming off a T15 last week at the 3M Open, his third-best finish of the season. He’s a two-time winner on Tour, so he knows how to get it done – he just needs to put four rounds together. He’s currently 117th in FedEx standings, but I feel like he’s trending in the right spot with only a few events left to get points. I think this course is set up for someone who can bang it around. The fairways are wide. This is the best shape I’ve seen it in a long time at Deere Run. The greens were firm and fast during the practice rounds. I think we’re expecting a little weather later in the week, but I think the environment is set for Berger’s game to excel.”
- Brian Harman. “Obviously, he had a really good tournament last week – T7 thanks to a final-round 65. He’ll carry that momentum into Silvis this week at the tournament where he snagged his first Tour win in 2014. He’s comfortable on this course and I think he’s comfortable with his game right now. At 100th in the FedEx at the moment, he can sort of have that mentality that he’s playing with house money. Last week’s T7 was his second top-10 finish in his last three starts. Maybe he can free wheel here this week at a place where he’s going to have good vibes.”
- Scott Stallings. “Again, I think this course rewards guys who hit it really far and guys who will have wedges in their hands. Scott’s a power player and there are a lot more birdie opportunities for guys who hit it long and straight. He’s been lurking at times this season, but hasn’t put four rounds together yet, except for Pebble back in February, where he finished third – one of two, top-10 finishes this season. It’s been a mixed bag for Scott at the John Deere in the past – a T5 in 2017, some missed cuts (including last year) – but I think he might find something this week.”
- Matt Wolff. “He’s the real deal and proved that last week with his incredible finish to win the 3M Open in just his third start as a professional. That was amazing stuff. Can he keep the momentum going this week, or could it be an understandable letdown? We’ll see. I’m leaning toward keeping the momentum going.”
- Robert Streb. “He’s on the outside looking in right now at 128 in FedEx points and needs to get something going. He’s a midwest kid, so maybe that’ll give him a little more comfort than usual this week. He knows he needs to get something going.”
- Michael Kim. “Since winning the John Deere Classic in 2018, Kim’s best finish on Tour has been a T32 in the Sentry Tournament of Champions (which tied for last in the limited field event). The last time he made a cut, in an event where there was a 36-hole cut to be made, was the Safeway Open back in early October… and he finished 73rd. Since the last time Kim played on the weekend — the Sentry — he has missed 18 consecutive cuts. The bleeding has got to stop at some point for this young man, so why not this week at the place where he won a year ago… BY EIGHT SHOTS? The definition of ‘longshot.'”
- Joel Dahmen. “It can’t be much longer before this guy breaks out and grabs that first PGA Tour win. He’s played too well the last two seasons for that not to have happened yet. Michael Kim blew the field away by eight shots last year at the John Deere and was playing on another level. Dahmen, however, was among the four-way tie for second. Is this the week he gets it done? Why not?”
- Zach Johnson. “His results the last two seasons have been far from Zach Johnson-like (he had that much-discussed equipment change and seemingly hasn’t been the same since). But if there is a place where Johnson can climb out of the slump, why not have it happen at his PGA Tour home game (he’s from nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about an hour and a half away)? Johnson has played great here over the years. Along with his win in 2012, he’s also finished T3 in 2015, second in 2014, T2 in 2013, T3 in 2011 and T2 in 2009. That’s an incredible record. He knows how to get it done here.”
- Viktor Hovland. “I’m incredibly impressed with this young man so far. A week after a T12 — as an amateur — at the U.S. Open, he turned pro for the Travelers Championship. He made the cut and finished T54. But the last two weeks? He’s got two, T13 finishes, both on the strength of STRONG final rounds (64 and 65, respectively). His college teammate Matthew Wolff got it done last week, so it’d be pretty cool to see Viktor get it done this week.”