Here’s the deal: It’s do or die week if PGA Tour players are not qualified for next week’s Open Championship.
This week’s event, the John Deere Classic, is the last chance to earn that all-expense-paid trip across the pond to play. The highest finisher in the top five who hasn’t qualified for the event will earn a spot into one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments.
That’s a lot of pressure. Especially if you’re never played in the Open Championship.
But, first things first. You’ve got to qualify. And at least over the last couple of years, this event has paid off in first-time PGA Tour winners doing just that.
In 2019 (2020’s event was canceled due to the pandemic), Dylan Frittelli won his first (and only, so far) Tour event and the previous year that exact same scenario played out for Michael Kim.
Ironically enough, in 2017, it was Bryson DeChambeau who also won for the first time. It was his first win but it certainly wasn’t his only win as his Tour career has skyrocketed.
Then there’s one more bit of irony: Ryan Moore, who won in 2016, hasn’t won on Tour since that victory.
So, who’s next?
Odds To Win The John Deere Classic From DraftKings
|2021 John Deere Classic Odds||DraftKings|
|Si Woo Kim||+3500|
Don’t Forget To Pack Warm Clothing
If you haven’t won before or aren’t eligible for the Open Championship and do manage to win this week, you better make sure you’ve got enough clothes packed (along with your passport) for the next week. There won’t be time for you to head home.
The reason: The charter jet with players heading over to the Open Championship departs right after the winner is crowned.
And we mean right after as players in this week’s field who are playing next week will load up and fly the friendly skies to tee it up at Royal St. Georges in England.
In fact, if form holds true, you can bank on TV networks showing the plane on the runway as the round winds down.
Oh, and pack warm. It’s not going to be 80 and sunny at the Open Championship…or 70…or, well you get the picture. And don’t get us started on the windy conditions.
Can Another First-Timer Actually Win?
With the talent the PGA Tour has on display each and every week it’s no wonder a new face pops up in the winner’s circle so often.
This week might be no different.
We’re going with a guy who has been looking up at the leaderboard but can’t quite get over that last hurdle.
How about taking a longshot flier on Doc Redman at +5500. He’s playing solid right now including cashing checks in five of his last seven events he’s played including a T-2 at the Palmetto Championship a couple of weeks ago. He did miss the cut last week but we’re hoping that gives him an extra couple of days to prepare for a tournament he’s got to have a solid finish in.
He does have one start across the Pond (a T-20 in the 2019 Open Championship won by the current trophy holder Shane Lowry) so he has made the trip and adjusted well…which isn’t always easy to do.
He was also in the top-40 the last time this event was held. A sub-par third round proved costly in his hopes of climbing the leaderboard.
What About The Hometown Guy?
The guy who calls this area home, Zach Johnson, is +3500. He has 12 PGA Tour victories including one right here in his own backyard in 2012.
Sure he’s only got three top 10s in 2021 but he’s always in the picture when it comes to playing in the John Deere. He’s got the victory as well as a T-5 in 2017 and he’s constantly in the top-40 to top-30 range.
It’s not that big of a stretch that he finds the home cooking to his liking this week and could sneak in and pick up lucky win No. 13.
One Top Player To Keep An Eye On
OK, sometimes bettors like to check out the chalk. Russell Henley at +2000 is in a great spot. It’s such a wide-open event with the star-power being down but Henley is one of those players who is constantly in the mix when his game is on.
Right now, it’s on. He has two top-20s in his last two events (he took last week off) so there’s no reason he won’t be on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday with a chance to win.
Add in the fact he was second to Frittelli in 2019 and this looks like a good spot for Henley to possibly get back in the winner’s circle.
He’s got to be hoping they will hold the plane for a couple of extra minutes while they try to find a little extra room for that oversized check and the trophy before heading across the Pond.