By Walker Polivka
The PGA Tour continues on this week as it visits TPC Deere Run for the John Deere Classic. Read on below to see our prediction for who will win the tournament, as well as our top 10, dark horse, and player to fade predictions.
Player to Fade: Ryuji Imada- Originally from Hiroshima, Japan, Imada makes his return to the PGA Tour this year after a 7 year absence. In his 3 starts this season, Imada has yet to make a cut (the Zozo Championship is a no cut, 4 round tournament) and 8 of his 9 rounds have been over par. In 6 career starts at TPC Deere Run, Imada has never made the cut here and has only shot 3 rounds in the 60s during that stretch. The winner of the John Deere Classic has typically gone low throughout the years, which means the cut line is usually lower than at other PGA Tour events. If Imada hasn’t fired a round under part yet this season, he will be in serious trouble this week. Imada is a lock to miss the cut.
Dark Horse: Scott Brown- The 664th ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings, Brown hasn’t had much to write home about on the PGA Tour this season, making the cut in 5 of his 9 starts, with a best finish of T-28 coming at the Corales Puntacana Championship. However, there is room for hope. Brown has a surprisingly great track record in the John Deere Classic, with 3 top 10’s and 7 top 25’s in 9 career starts, highlighted by a T-4 finish here last season. Brown is also coming off of a top 10 finish last week at the Live and Work in Maine Open on the Korn Ferry Tour, so his game appears to be rounding into form. A top 10 is a tall ask of Brown, even in a very weak John Deere Classic field this week, but another top 25 is certainly within reach.
Top 10: Charles Howell III- A perennial contender on the PGA Tour, Howell has had a quiet season, with 1 top 10, 4 top 25’s, and 5 missed cuts in 15 starts. TPC Deere Run has proven to be a terrific course for Howell in his career, as he has had 3 top 10’s, 9 top 25’s, and just 1 missed cut in 13 starts. Howell isn’t a flashy player on tour, but he is an excellent ball striker, hitting 70.33% of his Greens In Regulation, good enough to be ranked 6th on tour. Howell is also pretty solid in the short game department, ranking 16th in Strokes Gained: Around-The-Green. This week gives off Charles Howell III vibes and we predict that he will step up to plate and bring home a top 10 finish in his third different decade of the John Deere Classic and his second top 10 finish of the year.
Winner: Adam Hadwin- Hadwin’s season got off to a slow start, as he had just 1 top 10 and 3 top 25’s in his first 11 starts. Hadwin has gotten the ball rolling since then, with 4 top 10’s and 5 top 25’s in his last 10 starts, capped off by a stellar T-7 finish at the U. S. Open. Hadwin enters this week as one of the heavy favorites, and for good reason, as he finished T-18 and T-8 in his 2 previous starts in the John Deere Classic. Although is he is making his first start here since 2016, Hadwin’s game is in prime form, as he ranks inside the top 50 in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and Strokes Gained: Total. Lastly, TPC Deere Run underwent a massive bunker renovation project to improve the overall quality of the bunkers after last year’s tournament concluded. Hadwin is one of the best sand players on tour, ranking 14th in Sand Save Percentage and 1st in Proximity To Hole From Sand. Hadwin is playing with a lot of confidence this week and we predict that he will put his confidence to great use by winning the John Deere Classic!