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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - John Deere Classic


Hello RotoBallers and welcome back to Horse For The Course! The 3M Open was a new tournament held in Minnesota that actually provided some pretty high drama Sunday afternoon. There was definitely a youth movement in effect at TPC Twin Cities, as the final-round leaderboard was packed with many of golf's most exciting young guns. In the end, 20-year-old Matthew Wolff eagled the 72nd hole to grab his first PGA Tour win, edging out two other young stars in Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau (both of whom were highlighted in this article last week!) by one shot.

Wolff was playing on a sponsor's exemption and making just his third start as a professional. The young man with the crazy swing recently won the NCAA Individual Championship and has definitely announced his presence on the PGA Tour with authority.

In addition to Wolff and Morikawa, some other exciting young players gave us a glimpse of the future at the 3M. Viktor Hovland continues to impress and seems to have all the tools needed to be a star. Guys like Wyndham Clark, Joaquin Niemann, Sam Burns, and Sungjae Im played well in Minnesota and are players that should continue to offer DFS upside in these birdie fest type of events.

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John Deere Classic Overview

The PGA Tour stays in the Midwest for one more week, as we head to the Quad Cities for the John Deere Classic. Though the Tour schedule has been significantly revamped this year, the JD Classic will once again hold its traditional spot on the calendar as the prelude to the Open Championship and serves as a last chance to get into the year's final major for this week's highest finisher that isn't otherwise qualified for Royal Portrush.

Because the Open is next week and many of golf's elite players have already headed over to Europe, this will be one of the weakest fields we've seen since the swing season. I'm not gonna lie to you guys, it's not especially pretty this week. The JDC features four of the top 30 in the current FedEx Cup standings, but you'd probably be hard pressed to name them. The 2018 JDC champion Michael Kim hasn't made much noise since his surprise win here last year, but he's back to defend his title. We will get another look at some of the aforementioned young guns, as Matthew Wolff, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Suh are scheduled to tee it up at TPC Deere Run.

After a couple of weeks of new events with zero course history to work with, we have plenty of results to evaluate from the long-running John Deere. I try to make HFTC more than just a regular 'picks' article (though you can certainly use it that way if you need to) and while I often use course history as a foundation, there are no 'rules' here other than to get you the best PGA DFS info possible. We had a really nice week last week, let's do it again!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

 

The Course: TPC Deere Run

Par 71 - 7,268 Yards, Greens: Bent

I hope you guys haven't grown sick of birdies over the last couple of weeks, because we've got plenty more in store this week at TPC Deere Run. This D.A. Weibring design ain't exactly Bethpage Black. The fairways are super easy to hit. The greens are super easy to hit. Paul Goydos shot a 59 here in 2010. You get the idea...there will be birdies.

TPC Deere Run features some dramatic elevation changes throughout the layout with the course being designed to present players with risk/reward options that, more often than not, results in more reward than risk. Though birdies are plentiful, the bombers don't necessarily have a distinct advantage in this tournament, as guys like Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker are some of the biggest all-time money earners at the John Deere Classic.

As I have for the last few weeks, I'll once again be looking for players that can go low by focusing on Birdie or Better Percentage and DK Points Scored. I'll also give weight to Strokes Gained: Approach & Tee to Green while glancing at guys that have success putting on Bentgrass.

 

The Horse

Viktor Hovland (DK - $10,900 & FD - $11,600)

Notable Course History: None Available
Recent Form: T13 (3M Open), T13 (Rocket Mortgage Classic), T54 (Travelers), T12 (U.S. Open)

Viktor Hovland is getting the highlight here, but you can very well consider this the Viktor Hovland / Collin Morikawa / Matthew Wolff section of the article. I wrote up Morikawa here last week, Wolff got the win at the 3M, and Hovland once again caught fire in a final round. In many ways, this week's John Deere Classic (and by default, DFS contests) revolves around this talented trio that is already taking the PGA Tour by storm.

While Wolff and Morikawa received most of the TV time last Sunday, Hovland was quietly logging a final-round 65 to finish in a tie for 13th at the 3M...his second consecutive T13 outing. The kid has been pegged as a superstar for some time now, and his record-breaking outing at the U.S. Open and subsequent performances since turning pro afterwards don't do anything to change that projection.

Over his last 12 measured rounds Hovland leads this John Deere field in both Strokes Gained: Ball Striking & Off The Tee, and grades out second in Opportunities Gained. He's gained strokes tee to green in every start he's made since turning pro, including gaining a massive 9.2 strokes T2G last week. The youngster has logged top-13 finishes in three of his last four starts despite gaining strokes putting in just one of those outings, which leads me to believe that a win is attainable with a decent week on the greens.

I have to admit, there was some sticker shock when I first looked at DK pricing this week. I suppose I was hoping deep down that DraftKings might be a little slow on the uptake with these young guns, but they obviously aren't fooling around in this weak JDC field. Of the three at the top of the board, I prefer Hovland and Morikawa to Wolff, but that's just personal preference. It will be tough to get even one of these guys in your lineup this week, due to the lack of depth in the field, but I look for Hovland to make a big splash in this tournament and will get him in as many GPP lineups as possible.

 

The Ponies

Brian Harman (DK - $9,400 & FD - $11,000)

Notable Course History: T10 (2017), M/C ('16), T24 ('15), Win ('14)
Recent Form: T7 (3M Open), M/C (Rocket Mortgage), T8 (Travelers), T50 (RBC Canadian Open)

Truth be told, 2019 has been a pretty brutal year for Brian Harman. The diminutive lefty has only made 13 of 24 cuts this season, but Harman's game is trending in the right direction at perhaps the perfect time, as he's logged top-10 finishes in two of his last three starts and heads to a TPC Deere Run track where he won in 2014 and has recorded four career top 25s.

Harman has been solid in all facets of the game recently and ranks ninth in the JDC in SG: Total over his last 12 rounds. While he certainly doesn't blow you away with obvious talent like some of the young guns in this week's field, the veteran has been finding fairways and greens at a great clip and has gained strokes T2G in six consecutive starts.

He might not be the most exciting player to roster this week, but Harman brings a really nice blend of trending form and terrific course history to the table. If you want to attempt to take a solid route with lineup builds, Harman is a good place to start roster construction at $9.4k.

 

Scott Brown (DK - $8,300 & FD - $9,900)

Notable Course History: T12 ('18), T25 ('17), T16 ('16), M/C ('15), T5 ('14)
Recent Form:T15 (3M Open), M/C (Rocket Mortgage), T60 (Travelers), T31 (RBC Canadian Open)

You know it's the John Deere Classic when Scott Brown seems like a decent option. While I definitely have some reservations here, Brown does possess a Brian Harman-like combination of strong course history and trending form. We're taking a stab with him on a TPC Deere Run course where he's logged six-career top 25s with four such finishes in his last five JDC starts.

In addition to his strong track record on this layout, Brown heads to the Deere fresh off a T15 at last week's 3M Open, his best outing since April. He had the irons firing in Minnesota, gaining an impressive four strokes on approach at the 3M and 5.7 strokes T2G.

There's not much I can do to make Scott Brown sound exciting guys...this is a true blue collar, salt of the Earth type of golfer. He's a course horse play that is third in the field in Strokes Gained: Total at this tournament, and we are attempting to catch him in hot form.

 

Bronson Burgoon (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,400)

Notable Course History: T2 ('18), T47 ('16)
Recent Form: T34 (3M Open) T35 (Rocket Mortgage), T60 (Travelers), M/C (Memorial)

This mid-$7k price range has been a real sweet spot for me in recent weeks and I plan on going back to the well again for the JDC. Guys like Mackenzie Hughes, Peter Malnati, and Cameron Tringale have been playing well in these less-than-stellar fields over the past month, but their price hasn't really changed much. While I like all three of those players, for the purposes of this week's article, let's look at Bronson Burgoon for a minute.

There seems to be a common theme with the players I've already highlighted this week of "not had great seasons, but have trending form with a strong history in the Deere". That train of thought continues with Burgoon, who has pretty abysmal this year, but seems to have found something over the past couple weeks. The 32-year-old has logged back-to-back top-35 finishes at the Rocket Mortgage and 3M. He's gained strokes T2G and on Approach in both of those starts, while racking up 39 combined birdies in those two events.

Burgoon has a good pedigree at TPC Deere Run, as he logged a runner-up finish in last year's JDC. He also fits right into the type of roster construction I'm leaning towards this week...one of the young guns up top paired with heavy doses of this mid-to-upper $7k range.

 

Johnson Wagner (DK - $7,200 & FD - $8,200)

Notable Course History: T16 ('18), M/C ('17), T5 ('16), T5 ('15), T7 ('14)
Recent Form: T23 (3M Open), M/C (RBC Canadian), T43 (AT&T Byron Nelson), M/C (Wells Fargo)

I'm rounding out this week's article with Johnson Wagner. Yeah, I know...

Wagner actually has a freakishly-good track record in this tournament, with back to back T5s in 2016-17, a T7 in '14, and a T16 here last year. If there's gonna be a tournament where he shows up, it's the JDC. Wagner rode a hot putter to a T23 last week in Minnesota and gained 5.7 strokes on the greens at TPC Twin Cities. That's his M.O...try to find fairways and greens while making a ton of putts. It's worked well for him at TPC Deere Run, as he trails only Zach Johnson in Strokes Gained: Total (38.31 !) at the John Deere Classic.

You aren't going to find much to love statistically with Wagner, but after writing this article for a year-and-a-half, I can tell you that sometimes this stuff just doesn't make sense. He's a 'course horse' in its truest form and a player that you can gamble on in GPP lineups with this week's very thin field.

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