Opportunity always knocks at the John Deere Classic. Whether it be for first-time winners or for wily veterans looking to recapture old glories… the Quad Cities is a magnet.
And this season looks set to be no different.
It was near unbelievable to see Cameron Young go through 2022 without a victory as the Rookie of the Year went so close on so many occasions against the best fields. But now, after a solid 6-under 65 to open at TPC Deere Run, he might just be on track to break the drought.
In the latter category we find first-round leader Jonas Blixt. The three-time PGA TOUR winner claimed his last individual title back in 2013. He also combined with Cameron Smith for a Zurich Classic of New Orleans title back in 2017 but his last top 10 on TOUR came in May of 2019.
Despite this he put up a wild 9-under 62 opening round that featured two eagles and six birdies with a 29 on the back nine to set the pace.
Grayson Murray sits second at seven under while Adam Schenk, Greyson Sigg, Garrick Higgo, Nate Lashley and Richy Werenski join Young at six under. Schenk especially has been trending toward a maiden win on TOUR.
The weather cooperated for the opening round and there is optimism it will do so on Friday despite a lingering threat of thunderstorms. Should the rain come, it will only serve to see low scores continue as things soften up even further.
PGA TOUR meteorologist Kyle Koval tells us: “An upper-level disturbance will approach the area late Friday into Friday night. Showers could reach the Quad Cities before sunset Friday; however, the higher threat likely holds off until Friday night. Instability levels will be limited so the coverage of any thunderstorms remains questionable if they occur at all. Beyond any lingering precipitation Saturday morning (before 9-10am), dry conditions are looking more likely for the remainder of the weekend. Winds should feature a northerly component Saturday/Sunday with velocities likely remaining under 15 mph.”
Here are the latest odds via BetMGM Sportsbook
+550: Cameron Young (-6, T3)
+900: Adam Schenk (-6, T3)
+1600: Alex Smalley (-5, T9)
+1800: Seamus Power (-5, T9)
+2000: Denny McCarthy (-3, T23)
+2000: Nate Lashley (-6, T3)
+2200: Garrick Higgo (-6, T3)
+2500: Russell Henley (-2, T41)
+2500: Grayson Murray (-7, 2nd)
Here’s who I like the look of going forward.
ADAM SCHENK (+900 to win)
In his last 11 starts, Schenk has made just five cuts, but four of those were top 10s and two of them were runner-up finishes. In other words, when he’s on, he contends. And after an opening 6-under 65 I’m guessing he’s on this week. Add the fact he has a T6 and T4 at TPC Deere Run on his resume and he looks a serious contender.
The man himself is being humble, pointing toward his recent learning experiences… but the person who watches him play almost every shot live, his wife, has seen things trending.
“I think it just honestly has been years in the making,” wife Kourtney said. “He’s a golf nerd, so he has been working toward this for a long time and the self-belief is really coming into form, too. So, it’s the perfect storm.”
Schenk ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Putting on Thursday and 20th in SG: Approach. He lost some ground in SG: Around the Green, but that goes against his season trend so his touch could easily return.
If you are a live betting enthusiast there might be value in waiting until close to his afternoon tee time as when players go low in the morning, Schenk’s odds could drift slightly before he gets underway.
CAMERON YOUNG (+550 to win)
I have to admit, a lot of my confidence here is going by performances last season which I witnessed first-hand. That Rookie of the Year winning player is clearly the man with the most potential and firepower in his kitbag on this leaderboard, hence his favoritism. Interestingly, it was a final hole bogey on Thursday that helped flip me towards the draw side for Young as it slid his odds from +400 to +550… a little more palatable with 54 holes to play.
Young is gaining strokes across all SG metrics following Thursday despite making some basic errors. There is room for him to improve off the tee – his strength – and he had his putter dialed in on the greens, ranking sixth in SG: Putting. That will be the key going forward, making his fair share of putts.
PUTTING WILDCARDS: Denny McCarthy +2000; Brendon Todd +2800; Seamus Power +1800
With birdies in bunches needed over the next three days, at this point in the tournament, you still have to have half an eye on the deadly putters. McCarthy has given up a huge head start of six shots, but at 39th in SG: Putting Thursday, he has room to improve closer to his season efforts of ranking fourth. Todd ranks 33rd on the season, and 14th on Thursday while Power ranks 24th on the year but was only 79th in the opening round.
JONAS BLIXT (+2800 to win)
This one hurt to type because Blixt is a champion of a human, with a wickedly great sense of humor, and I’d love to see him back in the winner’s circle. Perhaps writing him off will work for some added motivation or some solid reverse psychology on the golf gods.
But the fact remains, his career best equaling 62 has come from the clouds. Impressively, he went low despite making pars on two of the three par 5s.
The Swede ranked a clear first in SG: Approach at +5.246, a standard one can’t see him maintaining over four rounds. He got away with hitting just six of 14 fairways off the tee, something that will bite harder if it continues.
GRAYSON MURRAY (+2500 to win)
Failed to make the cut in previous three trips to TPC Deere Run. Missed six cuts in eight TOUR starts this season. Has a history of variations between rounds. Just seven of his last 18 stroke play rounds on TOUR have been under par, including Thursday. Rode a field leading +3.943 in SG: Around the Green. Will be hard to rely on constant bail outs.
RUSSELL HENLEY (+2500 to win)
Henley, a four-time TOUR winner, was one of the pre-tournament favorites but failed to fire out of the gates. This is not a fade of the player per se, rather of his odds given he’s already spotted a seven shot lead and has 40 players ahead of him. While the fact he ranked fifth in SG: Approach and 16th in SG: Off the Tee on Thursday shows he’s hitting the ball pure enough to contend, we cannot overlook the -2.773 strokes on the greens to rank 142nd in SG: Putting.
Given Henley ranks 151st on the season in SG: Putting, can we really expect him to make up the ground on the 40 players ahead? I’d want to see at least double these odds to think about it.
Source : PGA Tour