John Deere Classic 2021 picks: Our experts look to go back-to-back on massive longshot picks
Gamblers never dwell on results. Win or lose, there’s always game or tournament to focus on. But when you cash a triple-digit golf outright ticket, it’s worth some quick reflection.
Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel, one of the members of our Golf Digest betting panel, nailed Cam Davis’ victory last week—at 100-1! We’ve predicted a couple dozen winners since we started this column in 2018 … but that was our longest hit. Our Stephen Hennessey also made Davis one of his bets on the “Be Right” podcast last week, prevailing over his pick Joaquin Niemann and Christopher Powers’ pick, Troy Merritt. It was quite the week—we hope you were tailing us!
If not, we’re glad you’re following now. We have the best collection of golf handicappers in the business—with Gdula; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; an anonymous caddie; and Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports. And we’ve hit a bunch of big longshots over the past couple weeks—Kokrak at 45-1 at the Charles Schwab; Higgo at 40-1 at the Palmetto. Our crew is heating up once again.
See who our group is betting on this week at the 2021 John Deere Classic.
John Deere Classic 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Alex Noren (31-1, FanDuel) — The Swede is streaky. Coming off a T-4 last week, expect Noren to keep the pedal down this week. He makes birdies in bunches these days, so this might be a perfect spot to get his first PGA Tour victory.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Si Woo Kim (35-1) — No doubt Si WOO is far more likely to come in dead last or WD than the others in this odds range, but we’re trying to pick a winner, and Kim has almost as many wins as the next 10 guys on the betting board after Daniel Berger combined.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Russell Henley (17-1, FanDuel Sportsbook) — Henley ranks as the best long-term iron player in this field once adjusted for field strength, and he was runner-up the last time we had an event at TPC Deere Run. He did that by gaining 7.7 strokes from approach play, an elite showing. Henley also comes in with consecutive top-20 finishes.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Brian Harman (13-1, DraftKings) — Harman is on an incredible stretch of golf right now, and most people don’t realize how long it’s been going on. In his past 27 events, dating back to last summer, Harman has lost strokes to the field just once, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Every other week he has been better than the field average and often, significantly better. He’s notched eight top-20 finishes in his past nine starts with four of them being top-10 finishes. He’s knocking on the door, and it’s about to open.
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Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Sungjae Im (18-1, Bet365) — Sungjae’s irons have been scorching hot (gaining 5.2, 2.3 and 2.4 strokes/approach in his past three outings), and he’s coming off an eighth-place finish last week. Sungjae hits a bunch of fairways and can get hot with the putter—that seems like the recipe for a John Deere champion.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Maverick McNealy (40-1, DraftKings) — McNealy finally seems to be finding some consistent form after an inconsistent stretch that included top 5s at Pebble and Harbour Town sandwiched in between a bunch of missed cuts. His last three starts, though, he’s been top 30 every time, and it’s thanks to some very good off-the-tee play and solid play with his irons. He’s a Poa guy, but his Bentgrass putting numbers are very good, too. It’s a weaker field and it will likely turn into another putting contest. Why can’t it be Mav’s time?
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Kevin Streelman (25-1, Bet365) — Streelman has three top-10 finishes to his name here, so it’s not surprising to see that he ranks 11th in FanShareSports’ course-suitability ranking this week. Streelman comes into this event ranked second in the field for SG/tee to green over the past two months and has five top-26 finishes in his past six events.
Recent results: Golf Digest's betting panel has been red-hot the past two seasons—and we’re finishing this season HOT. Our experts have now predicted eight of the past 19 winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel predicted Cam Davis’ win in this column last week (at 100-1)! Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports called Garrick Higgo’s victory at the Palmetto Championship (at 40-1)! Stephen Hennessey predicted Jason Kokrak’s victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge a few weeks ago (at 45-1)! He also picked Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. That continued a strong 2021—at The Players, Christopher Powers and Rick Gehman called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1). That was each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman and Gdula calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
John Deere Classic 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Patton Kizzire (50-1, BetMGM) — Kizzire is third in this field in birdies or better over the past 24 rounds, and you’re going to need a bunch of birdies this week. He’s also one of the best putters in this field (fourth in this field over the past 36 rounds). At this number, Kizzire should be an auto bet.
Mayo: Chez Reavie (55-1, DraftKings) — Another week, another set of prayers that we’ll catch Chez and a positive putting week. If anything else, hopefully he doesn’t three-putt his final hole to miss the cut this week.
Gdula: Doug Ghim (60-1, FanDuel) — I fear a little that Ghim can’t gain enough strokes putting to convert a win, but he struggles on Bermuda and has gained in consecutive weeks on bentgrass greens, which is not abnormal for him. He’s in the 97th percentile in this field in adjusted strokes-gained/tee-to-green, per my database, over the last year.
Gehman: Kramer Hickok (80-1, FanDuel) — Hickok fell short in an eight-hole playoff at the Travelers Championship against Harris English. Maybe even more impressive, he was able to follow up that draining performance with a made cut last week in Detroit. When you add in his T-14 at the Charles Schwab Challenge, you realize that Hickok is in an impressive stretch of golf and now heads to TPC Deere Run, which should emphasize his two strengths—driving accuracy and putting.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Chez Reavie (55-1, DraftKings) — Chez is No. 1 in this field in Fantasy National’s “fairways gained” stat, which bodes really well for TPC Deere Run. The best part: His proximity numbers in the crucial yardage ranges, from 100-125, 125-150 and 150-175, are all in the top 25 in this field over the past 36 rounds (Chez is third in this field in proximity in that range). Just an OK putting week, and Chez can contend.
Powers, Golf Digest: Beau Hossler (80-1, DraftKings) — Much like my other guy Mav, the knock on Hossler has always been that he can putt the lights out but can’t do much else well. That has drastically changed over the last three starts, as Hossler has become an elite tee to green player seemingly overnight. As a result, he’s gone 19th, 10th and 25th, and he didn’t even have a truly epic putting week in any of those starts. If he can couple a red-hot flat stick with his suddenly strong tee to green play, watch out. He’s No. 2 in this field in strokes-gained/putting on Bentgrass over his last 50 rounds, per Fantasy National.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Zach Johnson (43-1, FanDuel) — Johnson has six top-three finishes here at TPC Deere Run in his past 11 appearances. His form has started to improve a little recently too, gaining over 3.6 shots to the field in three of his past six events. He is an excellent putter on these bentgrass greens so he should put away a lot of chances this week.
John Deere Classic 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Cam Davis (30-1, BetMGM) — Last week was a career-changing win for Davis. It would be a lot to ask to best a field of hungry players, even though this one is weak, yet again.
Mayo: Brian Harman (13-1, DraftKings) — Sure he’s a former winner and actually playing some decent golf, but it would have to be a sad scene watching me back Harman at these odds. I refuse to bet Xander Schauffele every week at this price because it’s too short ... and he’s elite.
Gdula: Seamus Power (31-1, FanDuel) — Power is on a heater with four straight top-20 finishes and has done so with good iron play, but the off-the-tee numbers are still iffy, and his long-term form is not nearly where it needs to be at 31-1 to be considered a bet I’d like.
Gehman: Cam Davis (30-1, BetMGM) — Davis broke through and paid off triple-digit tickets last week in Detroit. As bullish as I am on Davis, it’s always difficult to play well the week after your first PGA Tour victory. Not only is this the shortest number we’ve ever seen on Davis, but TPC Deere Run won’t play into his strengths like Detroit Golf Club did. There will be plenty of opportunities to bet on Davis, don’t force this one.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brian Harman (13-1, DraftKings) — Maybe if this was a different name and not Brian Harman with all of his impressive finishes and stats, I’d be more inclined. But we’re talking about Brian Harman being 15-1 to win a golf tournament. The guy is not a closer … and you’d need to put some weight on this to make it worth it. No thanks.
Powers, Golf Digest: Alex Noren (31-1, FanDuel) — Big fan of Noren, bigger fan of betting on him at triple-digit odds. But I’ve seen this movie before. He contends at a juicy odds number, then gets slashed to 30 because he’s a 10-time European Tour winner, then MCs. I’m going to bet him now in the hopes he proves me wrong, but it’s a guaranteed burned ticket already.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Russell Henley (17-1, FanDuel) — Sure, Henley might be playing some great golf right now, but his historic putting stats on bentgrass greens are concerning. He comes into this week ranked 120th in the field for SG/putting on bentgrass over the past two years. Despite being the fourth favorite this week he ranks just 33rd in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking.
John Deere Classic 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Brian Harman (+106) over Daniel Berger (FanDuel) — I really think this golf course suits Harman so well, and he’s playing some of the best golf of his career. It would not be a surprise for him to earn his third career PGA Tour win and win No. 2 at TPC Deere Run. At plus-odds, you gotta like Harman’s chances against Berger, who could contend but could also trunk slam.
Mayo: Sean Crocker (-114) over Dean Burmester (DraftKings) — I’ll throw you a curve ball if you’re just here for John Deere picks. The real tournament this week is at the Scottish Open. And there’s an edge on a match up I like over there. and Sean Crocker has proven himself to be a tee-to-green maven on the Euro scene as of late, which will translate well to the Renaissance Club.
Gdula: Zach Johnson (-120) over Ryan Moore (FanDuel) — TPC Deere Run fits both of their games, but ZJ is significantly better in long-term adjusted stroke average in my database (+0.60 versus -0.01), so I’ll lean here even with the odds.
Gehman: Hank Lebioda (-110) over Sebastian Munoz (DraftKings) — Liebioda is one of the hottest golfers on tour right now, and that’s not really an exaggeration. Since the Valspar in early May, Lebioda has gained 1.58 strokes per round over his peers. That’s the second-best mark in this field, behind only Brian Harman—per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He hasn’t missed a cut in that stretch and has earned back-to-back top-five finishes.
Hennessey: Seamus Power (-129) over Dylan Frittelli (DraftKings) — Power has been one of the best players in this field over the past 12 rounds … and he’s been succeeding in every strokes-gained category. Frittelli, though he’s the defending champion, is more of a bomb and gouge type player these days, so this course doesn’t truly suit his game the way it did in 2019.
Powers: Aaron Wise (-129) over Cameron Davis (DraftKings) — Sort of just betting on a Cameron Davis hangover week here, but also on Aaron Wise’s strong recent form. Three top 20s in his last five starts, including a 17th at Kiawah. Gained strokes tee-to-green in five straight, and gained on approach in three straight.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Kevin Streelman (-142) over Si Woo Kim (FanDuel) — As you can see above, Streelman is my pick to win this week. Kim on the other hand ranks outside the top 100 for SG/putting on Bentgrass over the last two years and for total strokes-gained at TPC Deere Run.
Matchup results from the Rocket Mortgage: Powers: 1 for 1 (Lucas Glover (-125) over Adam Hadwin); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Patrick Reed (-125) over Webb Simpson); Hennessey: push (Keegan Bradley over Jason Day); Caddie, Mayo, Gdula, Gehman: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 20-13-3 (up 5.87 units); Alldrick: 21-16-1 (up 3.43 units); Gdula: 19-17-2 (up 0.74 units); Powers: 18-16-4 (up 0.51 units); Gehman: 16-20-2 (down 4.00 units); Caddie: 13-21-4 (down 7.92 units); Mayo: 14-21-2 (down 8.14 units).
John Deere Classic 2021 picks: Top 10 (William Hill Sportsbook)
Caddie: Alex Noren (+300) — I’ll back up my outright bet with a hedge on the Swede who has been playing some great golf of late. Even if he struggles again to find that first win in the States, I like this top-10 bet to cash.
Mayo: Maverick Antcliff (+1800) — OK, I got one more Scottish bet for you. The links style of the Scottish Open allows for specialists of every kind to thrive if they’re on that week, and seriously, Antcliff has been one of the premier iron players in the world over the past few months. The rest of the Aussie’s game leaves a little to be desired, but if he can continue the excellent approach play, and get lucky on the greens, he’s the right type of player to come from the back of the pack.
Gdula: Steve Stricker (+400) — Stricker is still getting it done on the Champions Tour with two wins in his past five starts and actually some good data when he does play on the PGA Tour. The three-time winner at this track makes sense again for a top 10 at solid odds.
Gehman: Seamus Power (+350) — Power has a lot of factors pointing in his favor. He enters this week with four consecutive top-20 finishes, with two of them being top-10s. He’s gained strokes on approach in six consecutive events, which provides him a solid floor. He’s currently ranked 140th in the FedEx Cup standings with a chance to solidify his spot in the playoffs and earn his card for next year. He has the game and the motivation to make a run at the top of the leader board this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Kramer Hickok (+600) — Hickok’s keys to success at the Travelers—finding fairways and hitting great wedge shots—will translate to the John Deere Classic. He had a nice week in Detroit at a course less-suited to his game … so let’s ride this hot streak.
Powers, Golf Digest: Kevin Na (+350) — Na has not had a top 10 since his win at Sony, but he’s a Bentgrass putting god and should finally be comfortable at this course after a run of long and hard golf courses, which don’t suit his game. In three trips to John Deere, he’s finished 13th or better twice.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Steve Stricker (+400) — Stricker won last week’s PGA Tour Champions event and will take that confidence into this week. Stricker’s sharp approach play helps elevate him to fifth in our Course Suitability Ranking this week so it’s not surprising to see that he has three wins to his name here at TPC Deere Run.
Top-10 results from the Rocket Mortgage: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Cam Davis, +900); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Sungjae Im, +300). Everyone else: 0 for 1.
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 8 for 35 (up 11.85 units); Hennessey: 6 for 33 (up 3.5 units); Powers: 6 for 35 (down 3.5 units); Tour caddie: 6 for 34 (down 11.85 units); Gdula: 3 for 34 (down 15.5 units); Mayo: 2 for 34 (down 19 units); Alldrick: 2 for 33 (down 23 units).
John Deere Classic 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Kevin Streelman — Streelman missed out on the weekend at the Travelers by just one stroke, ending his string of four consecutive top-20 finishes. I’m willing to quickly forgive that transgression and see if he can bounce back. He’s gained strokes on approach in eight of his past nine events and has started to figure out the putter. If he can marry those two things together, he will make plenty of noise this week.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger. Valspar: Paul Casey. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. AT&T Byron Nelson: Sam Burns. PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa. Charles Schwab Challenge: Charley Hoffman. Memorial Tournament: Billy Horschel. Palmetto Championship: Lucas Glover. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka. Travelers Championship: Keegan Bradley. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Jason Kokrak.
Hennessey: Alex Noren — I’m tempted to go with Zach Johnson, but there’s a little more win equity here with Noren, though it’s riskier.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson. Valspar: Charley Hoffman. Wells Fargo: Max Homa. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Abraham Ancer. Memorial Tournament: Collin Morikawa. Palmetto Championship: Matt Fitzpatrick. U.S. Open: Jon Rahm. Travelers Championship: Paul Casey. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Bryson DeChambeau.
Powers: Brian Harman — My strategy of “pick the guy I’m not betting on” has failed dramatically in this space, but I’m going to try it one last time here because all signs do point to Harman this week. Just will never catch me betting the big-game hunter at 13-1.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner. Valspar: Patrick Reed. Wells Fargo: Patrick Cantlay. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy. Charles Schwab Challenge: Joaquin Niemann. Memorial Tournament: Jon Rahm. Palmetto Championship: Harold Varner III. U.S. Open: Bryson DeChambeau. Travelers Championship: Scottie Scheffler. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Doc Redman.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
1.84 — The number of strokes gained per round by Zach Johnson at TPC Deere Run since 2015, the most of any golfer in this field with at least nine rounds.
81.8 percent — The percentage of years that the winning score has been 20-under par or better since 2009.
$3,243,663 — The amount earned by Steve Stricker in his career at the John Deere Classic. That includes three wins and eight total top-10 finishes in 17 starts.
15 — The combined number of top 10s by Steve Stricker (eight) and Zach Johnson (seven) at this event. No other golfer in the field has more than (three).
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.