The John Deer Classic is the last PGA Tour event prior to the Open and thus represents both a last minute chance for those qualified to warm up and a chance to make the field. As a warm up event it just doesn’t make sense but a cursory glance at those who have made it into the field at the Open gives some clues as to why they choose to play here. Daniel Berger (flying), Kisner, Watson, Johnson and Stricker – all with local connections or form here or they just don’t rate their chances at Royal Birkdale? For the rest there is one spot going and it has to be a top 5. So on the flip side there will be huge motivation for some.
Who that will be is the conundrum.
The course is a par 71 with an average of 42 yards at the 250 (wide…very wide by tour standards) and receptive Bentgrass greens that gives up a truckload of birdies. The last three winners have made a minimum of 21 birdies and at least one eagle. So the winner better have their putting boots on – which explains Strickers record including 3 on the trot from 09 – 11.
Bryson Dechambeau: 1pt win at $65
Ollie Schniederjans: 1 pt win at $140
Bryson Dechambeau is the new Patrick here. He didn’t win last week but put in another fine performance and beyond his undoubted class he looks to be high on confidence. Last three starts of 26th, 17th and 14th with a closing 65 at the Greenbrier – including a birdie on the 72nd – is a nice trend for a player with the Fed Ex and a spot in the Open his missions. With a last three tournament average of 68.75 Dechambeau is starting to look the player we always thought he would be. Nothing he does would surprise.
Ollie Schniederjans suffered the ignominy of being disqualified at the Greenbrier for an incorrect scorecard with 2 scores the wrong way around. He has four top ten finishes from an admittedly tough schedule (35 events) and his form has tailed off to an extent from the high of his 3rd place at the Heritage. On a steep learning curve in his rookie year he’s rarely missed a cut. But the clincher for me is the price – $140 for a player of this calibre – in this field – is too good to miss.