John Deere Classic DFS picks 2023: This golfer screams upside
Another week with plenty of birdies on tap!
The previous eight editions of the John Deere Classic have produced an average winning score of 21.25-under par. Without much length to TPC Deere Run and par 5s that are reachable for every player, driving distance shouldn’t be a prerequisite for success this week. Instead, we’re looking at the ability to make birdies and get hot with your irons.
Here are the players who have my interest—and those who certainly don’t—this week at the 2023 John Deere Classic.
Golfers I'm Definitely Playing
Russell Henley ($10,400 DraftKings | $11,800 FanDuel)
Henley has been quietly going about his business and has returned to form as a top-end approach player. He has gained 1.04 strokes per round on approach over his past 24 rounds, second in this field to only Mark Hubbard, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. His last seven events have produced six top-20 finishes and this will be, by far, the weakest field of them all.
Emiliano Grillo ($9,200 DraftKings | $10,400 FanDuel)
Grillo is only a few starts removed from his win at the Charles Schwab Challenge, and it appears that he could contend again this week. Since The Players Championship, Grillo is the fifth-best putter in this field—a stark contrast from his historical putting woes. He’s figured out a way to plug his biggest leak, and now it’s paying dividends.
Stephan Jaeger ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,000 FanDuel)
Jaeger tied the course record on Sunday in Detroit and has been playing some stellar golf. His problem has been the inability to put four straight rounds together. He lost 6.5 strokes on Sunday at the Travelers, 1.02 on Sunday at the Memorial, 4.3 on Sunday at the Charles Schwab and 5.3 on Sunday at the PGA Championship. Perhaps this recent Sunday success can snap him out of that funk moving forward.
Chez Reavie ($7,700 DraftKings | $9,000 FanDuel)
Reavie’s T-29 last week was much better than expected, on a course that doesn’t really set up well for him. That marked six straight cuts made for Reavie , including three straight top 30s. Even more impressive, he gained 8.75 strokes on approach last week, the most in the field. He’s certainly trending in the right direction.
Ryan Moore ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,300 FanDuel)
Moore’s game has certainly fallen off in recent years but even during that stretch, he’s found a way to play well at TPC Deere Run. He has three straight top-25s, including a runner-up in 2021. He won this event in 2016 and added two more top-10s prior to breaking through. At this point in his career, he’s an above-average approach player who is still deadly accurate with the driver, heading to the best course for him. That’s about as good as you’ll get in this range.
Golfers I Might Play
Denny McCarthy ($10,600 DraftKings | $12,000 FanDuel)
McCarthy gets the nod as the most expensive golfer on DraftKings, and it is well deserved. He has three straight top-20s, including a runner-up at the Memorial and T-7 at the Travelers. He’s the best putter in the field, and he has gained three-plus strokes on approach three times in his past five starts. This screams “UPSIDE!” for this week.
Eric Cole ($9,700 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)
Since Jan. 1, Eric Cole has been the 14th-best player in the world, gaining 1.25 strokes per round. Not in this field … in the world! In this field, he ranks behind only Denny McCarthy and Nick Taylor. The manner in which he’s accomplishing these gains has been fairly well-rounded with an emphasis on approach play and putting. Those are going to be critical this week as birdies will be piling up in bunches.
Doug Ghim ($8,000 DraftKings | $9,500 FanDuel)
It’s hard to argue with what we are seeing from Ghim right now—earning five straight top-33 finishes and gaining strokes ball-striking in each. This is reminiscent of his play from early 2021 when he was a staple as one of the best ball-strikers on tour. He’s clearly found something, and now he gets to battle on a course that should offer little resistance.
Lucas Glover ($7,200 DraftKings | $9,500 FanDuel)
Glover has switched to a long putter in recent weeks and while it hasn’t always provided positive returns, it did last week. He gained 5.4 strokes putting in Detroit—his best putting performance since the 2021 Honda Classic. Combine that with elite course history, including a win here in 2021, and you’ve got an interesting option for this price.
Greyson Sigg ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,300 FanDuel)
Sigg has been held back by his putter this season, but he has gained strokes with the flatstick in two of his past three starts. The rest of his game is pristine, and hopefully he can spark some good vibes from his T-16 finish here last year.
Golfers I'm Fading
Keith Mitchell ($9,600 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)
Sean M. Haffey
This will be a birdie-fest, so the name of the game will be opportunities. Unfortunately for Mitchell, he hasn’t given himself enough birdie looks. He’s lost strokes on approach in seven of his past eight starts and doesn’t have much to show for it in the results column. This looks like a lot to overcome thanks to this recent form.
Byeong Hun An ($8,700 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
Speaking of putting woes, throw An into that category. After what appeared to be an area of improvement, he’s now lost strokes putting in six straight events. He hasn’t driven it as well in Detroit or Hartford, leading to missed cuts in both starts. This is looking like a narrow path to the top of the board for An.
Brendon Todd ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,600 FanDuel)
Todd missed the cut at the Travelers, which is quite concerning. He’s a “specialist” and when he doesn’t play well on perfect course setups, it’s generally a red flag. His biggest weapon, the putter, has cooled—losing strokes in three of his past five.
Patton Kizzire ($7,200 DraftKings | $8,500 FanDuel)
Eston Parker/ISI Photos
Kizzire has never missed a cut in four trips to Silvis, Ill., but that’ll certainly be tested this week. He’s failed to make the weekend in four of his past seven starts, and he hasn't had an individual top-30 finish since the Valspar Championship in March. There’s not one area we can point to that will turn this around quickly, which causes even more concern.
Davis Thompson ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel)
Thompson flashed last week, finishing T-24 and gaining strokes ball-striking in all four days. I’m slightly optimistic but not sold yet. Considering he’s missed seven cuts in his past 14 starts, with 13 finishes outside the top 50—I’ll need to see more.
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Rick Gehman, 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.