Fantasy Insider: John Deere Classic
July 11, 2017
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
PGA TOUR LIVE coverage of the John Deere Classic
There's never a bad time to review what's up for grabs, but some times are better than others. This is one of those times.
• Earnings are no longer used to determine status on the PGA TOUR.
• The top 125 in the FedExCup standings at the conclusion of the Wyndham Championship qualify for the Playoffs and are fully exempt in 2017-18.
• Golfers ranked 126-150 in FedExCup points will secure conditional status (unless already fully exempt, of course). If this is a golfer's highest status earned for 2017-18, he will have the option to play concurrent Web.com Tour events in 2018.
• Golfers ranked 126-200 are exempt into the Web.com Tour Finals. All who are already fully exempt for 2017-18 are ineligible to compete in the Finals from which an additional 25 PGA TOUR cards will be distributed with the 25 earned on the 2017 Web.com Tour.
• The Safeway Open will kick off the 2017-18 season on Oct. 5-8. This means that there is no week off between The Presidents Cup and Web.com Tour Championship, both of which are scheduled to conclude on Oct. 1.
Anyone who follows the sport as closely as I do knows that these are merely broad strokes. So, if you ever have any questions, drop them in the discussions beneath any of my columns and content, email me at FantasyInsider@charter.net or connect with me on Twitter, either publicly or via private messaging.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO
My roster for the John Deere Classic (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Charles Howell III; Zach Johnson; Matt Jones; Kevin Kisner; Kelly Kraft; Danny Lee; Trey Mullinax; Sebastian Muñoz; Kevin Na
Driving: Zach Johnson; Matt Jones; Kevin Kisner; Danny Lee; William McGirt; Rory Sabbatini; Kevin Streelman
Approach: Charles Howell III; Kevin Kisner; Kevin Na; Chez Reavie; Rory Sabbatini; Scott Stallings; Steve Stricker; Nick Watney
Short: Charles Howell III; Kevin Kisner; Danny Lee; Sebastian Muñoz; Chez Reavie; Steve Stricker
Power Rankings Wild Card
Nick Taylor … Not unlike how Kyle Stanley didn't surprise gamers at the Quicken Loans National, Taylor's T9 at The Greenbrier Classic aligned with his arc on which he's climbed from outside the top 400 in the Official World Golf Ranking in February to his current position at 188th. He didn't crack the Power Rankings for the John Deere Classic primarily due to the fact that he's 0-for-2 at TPC Deere Run, but expect that record to reflect success at the conclusion of this weekend with the kind of balanced attack he's maintained all year.
Robert Streb … There's always some concern about what to do with guys who nab one of the exemptions into The Open Championship, and then remain committed to a tournament in the interim. This is the curious case of the 30-year-old who is on his way to Royal Birkdale after last week's runner-up performance at The Old White TPC. To say that he was trending for something special would be inaccurate, especially since he was 137th in the FedExCup standings before the coup. So, with his card and spot in the Playoffs shored up, expect him to keep his head down to avoid a regression before the major. He's been around long enough to understand how to approach it mentally. That he's 3-for-4 with a pair of top 25s at TPC Deere Run is security for gamers to double down on a track that he knows well and where he's confident.
Sebastian Muñoz … Was one round from history at The Greenbrier Classic. The 24-year-old from Colombia settled for a share of third place, but he was bidding for a wire-to-wire victory. That would have landed him beside Mackenzie Hughes as the only rookies to go wire-to-wire since Tim Herron at the 1996 Honda Classic. Muñoz parlayed a putting tip from Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño into a career-best finish. Armed with that, the confidence it created and four consecutive cuts made, throw him into your DFS lineup.
Kelly Kraft … But be careful here. Checks both boxes defining converging trends with a T5 in his Deere debut last year and a T5 at last week's Greenbrier, but the 28-year-old has been anything but consistent in his sophomore season. If you make room, you do so riding his confidence of leading the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green at The Old White TPC. He also co-led in fairways hit and ranked T9 in greens in regulation and seventh in proximity to the hole.
Chez Reavie … No shift in this narrative, really. He's 7-for-8 since New Orleans with a T4 in Memphis and a T16 at the U.S. Open. Perfect in his last four trips to the Quad Cities with a T5 in 2011 and a T15 in 2013 during which he spun a 61 in the second round. Currently 38th on TOUR in adjusted scoring and T11 in par-3 scoring.
Kevin Streelman … Par or better in all four rounds en route to a T29 at The Greenbrier Classic. On its own, it's not bad, but it was his first finish outside a top 20 in five starts. He's recorded a pair of eighth-place finishes at TPC Deere Run (2009, 2012), but your motivation to make room is based almost entirely on his mild heater during which he's shed over three-quarters of a stroke on his adjusted scoring average, jumping from 125th to 66th on TOUR.
William McGirt … Hasn't really made any noise since opening THE PLAYERS with a 67, but his baseline is still valuable if for no other reason than it's predictable. If the 38-year-old has regressed to his horse-for-a-course stereotype, we can work with that. That includes at TPC Deere Run where he was inside the top five after each of the first three rounds before fading to T23 in 2014. That was also before his breakthrough title at Memorial last year, of course, so given the same opportunity again, he'd likely respond more favorably.
Nick Watney … Now 36 years of age, he's no longer the force he once was, but he can still be a valuable piece. Returns to TPC Deere Run for the first time since 2013 on the shoulders of eight consecutive cuts made. It's been an ugly effective in that he's survived big numbers to secure his card for 2017-18. It also doesn't hurt that he's T6 in proximity to the hole and T52 in adjusted scoring.
Matt Jones … Sneak him in somewhere. He hasn't recorded a top 10 on the PGA TOUR in over 22 months, but he's hung three on the board in seven tries at TPC Deere Run (2009, 2010, 2013). The Aussie has overcome his shortcoming in manufacturing scoring opportunities with cuts made in eight of his last nine starts thanks to his consistently strong short game that supports his slot at 44th in adjusted scoring.
Andres Romero … Worth a flier in DFS given that he's survived the cut here in his last three appearances and arrives for his sixth career start just three weeks removed from winning the BMW International Open. Still just 36 years of age.
Curtis Luck … Given his multiple victories on the biggest stages on the amateur level around the world, we're not surprised that he's been a quick study since turning pro in April. Chased a T5 at the Quicken Loans National with a T20 last week. He'd rank 162nd among members in FedExCup points, so with a berth into the Web.com Tour Finals tucked away, the Aussie is playing on house money. That makes him even more dangerous in the shootout at TPC Deere Run.
Bubba Watson … Until he reverses course, it's impossible to envision him as a sensible investment in any format. That day may come soon for full-season salary gamers, however, as the lefty has banked just $820K this season. Then again, it could be a trap until he eliminates the doubt that playing a new ball has created. This is his first appearance at TPC Deere Run since 2010.
Ryan Palmer … First trip since 2012. Currently 120th in the FedExCup standings and hasn't cracked a top 50 since mid-May. Obviously, golf took its proper position in the back seat this season given his wife's battle with breast cancer, so you can understand the lull in his performance overall.
Ricky Barnes … For just about all intents and purposes, last year's T5 was an anomaly and not only because he hadn't finished better than T45 in seven prior appearances, five of which ending in a missed cut. Gamers associate him with complementary value on harder courses, not racetracks like TPC Deere Run. It also doesn't help that he hasn't recorded another top-15 finish since he departed the Quad Cities in mid-August of 2016.
Smylie Kaufman … Pretty much going about his sophomore season as expected. His closing 61 to win the Shriners in October of 2015 remains his lowest aggregate in individual competition by five strokes. It was the epitome of capturing lightning in a bottle. Sits 134th in the FedExCup standings as he debuts at the John Deere Classic.
Ollie Schniederjans … The impressive rookie has slowed in recent weeks despite making cuts. It's not unusual at this time of the season, both due to tougher courses and the learning curve of understanding how to navigate it in the long-term. Now, he would have missed his first cut in eight starts last week if not for signing for an incorrect scorecard after his second round of The Greenbrier Classic. Still, expectations remain elevated for full-season investors, but weekly gamers don't need to dig this deep in his first go-around at TPC Deere Run.
Returning to Competition
Grayson Murray … Completed only two holes at The Greenbrier Classic before withdrawing, citing illness. The rookie was one of my Sleepers last week given that he had connected 10 cuts made from the Shell Houston Open through the Quicken Loans National. At 117th in the FedExCup standings, he's among the many in the pressure cooker as we continue into the heat of the summer.
Nicholas Lindheim … Walked off The Old White TPC during his second round with a knee injury. He opened with 8-over 78 to extend his string of consecutive rounds of par or worse to 12. His mid-tournament withdrawal during the FedEx St. Jude Classic was due to an illness. The rookie is 7-for-16 on the season and ranks 183rd in the FedExCup standings.
Steven Alker … The Kiwi called it quits before his second round of last week's Greenbrier due to an illness. It was his first mid-tournament withdrawal in 81 career starts. Perhaps he finds a groove this week. In his previous two spins with a PGA TOUR card, he finished T25 in 2003 and T28 in 2015 at the John Deere Classic, but gamers are advised to observe only. Will celebrate his 46th birthday on July 28.
NOTE: None of this week's early withdrawals qualified for next week's Open Championship.
Harris English … Salvaged his season with five paydays in his last six starts to rise to 97th in the FedExCup standings. Of course, this falls below our expectations, but full-season salary gamers are licking their chops staring at his current value of $843K. He hadn't collected less than $1.97M in any of his previous four seasons.
Fabian Gomez … Very little of this season has gone according to plan for the 38-year-old. He's 157th in FedExCup points and hasn't played since withdrawing one round into the Quicken Loans National two weeks ago. An explanation wasn't released. The good news is that he's fully exempt through next season by virtue of his victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2016. Currently valued at $332K, salary gamers in deeper leagues should be stalking the Argentine as a bargain in 2017-18.
Seung-Yul Noh … Missed the cut on the number at The Old White TPC to extend his mini-slump to 0-for-3. Currently 98th in the FedExCup standings and nearly 105 points inside the top 125, so he can afford the week off.
Will MacKenzie … Withdrew early in the week before The Greenbrier Classic as well. Placed T17 two weeks prior at the Travelers Championship. Currently 170th in the FedExCup standings, he's a lock for a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals, but gamers' expectations aren't what they once were as he approaches his 43rd birthday in late September. He hasn't qualified for the Playoffs since 2014.
Zack Sucher … Second consecutive week in which he's withdrawn early. The 30-year-old is just 3-for-14 on the season and sits 221st in FedExCup points.
Charlie Beljan … With just one cut made (T66, WMPO) in eight starts this season, you can understand if he's rationing his remaining four starts on a Major Medical Extension.
Nicholas Thompson … This is the fourth time that he's burning a start on his Non-exempt Medical Extension in favor of a start on the Web.com Tour. It's because of that status on the PGA TOUR that he continues to grab our attention, if but barely. The 34-year-old is 29th in earnings on the Web.com as he preps for this week's Utah Championship.
Power Rankings Recap - The Greenbrier Classic
Power Ranking Golfer Result 1 Kevin Kisner MC 2 Bill Haas T37 3 Patrick Reed T20 4 Charles Howell III T45 5 Webb Simpson T14 6 Keegan Bradley T50 7 Danny Lee T9 8 Stewart Cink T58 9 David Lingmerth T64 10 Sung Kang MC 11 Tony Finau T7 12 Russell Henley T5 13 Phil Mickelson T20 14 Kevin Streelman T29 15 Ted Potter Jr. T37 Wild Card Jimmy Walker T18
Sleepers recap - The Greenbrier Classic
Golfer Result Scott Brown MC Robert Garrigus T45 Grayson Murray WD Chris Stroud T20 Tyrone Van Aswegen T73
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
July 11 … Sean O'Hair (35)
July 12 … Robert Allenby (46)
July 13 … none
July 14 … Michael Kim (24)
July 15 … Dicky Pride (48)
July 16 … Adam Scott (37)
July 17 … none