The PGA Tour makes one of its proudest stops on the schedule this week and when it’s over, it’s off to Southport, England for the 3rd Major Championship of the golf season.

In terms of star power, The John Deere Classic is no more attractive than what we’ve seen the last couple of weeks on The PGA Tour but it feels like so much more. With consistency, character, and incredible support from the surrounding Midwestern communities, along with the fact that it sits on the doorstep of arguably the greatest golf tournament in the world, The John Deere is like a mid-summer barbecue on the 3rd of July – a feel good, compelling, American pre-party – and with what is always a birdie-fest, there ought to be plenty of fireworks to go right along with it.

The event began in 1971 in Iowa but since year 2000, The John Deere Classic has been played at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. The tournament sponsor, John Deere, may be the greatest The Tour has as it has created a love affair between the locals from America’s heartland and this golf event. A two time winner of the tournament, D.A. Weibring, designed the course. With water coming into play on five holes and average sized, bentgrass greens, TPC Deere Run has also become a favorite with the players because of its consistency. They know what they are getting each and every year they tee it up. The scoring average of 69.9 in 2016, rarely changes more than a tick from year to year. The winning score of the last seventeen winners has not varied by more than six shots, always right around 20-under par. The course is a Par 71 and measures 7,268 yards.

Neither Driving Accuracy or Driving Distance have proven to be especially related to success here at The John Deere but rather one’s approach to the green, scrambling, and putting are the areas in which the winners have flourished. With The British Open next up on the schedule, The John Deere Classic has done one of the coolest things in an effort to encourage players to enter the event. A private charter plane is provided immediately following the tournament, zipping the players hassle-free and overseas, to the grounds of The Open Championship by Monday afternoon, no worse for the wear. Before we all get to Royal Birkdale though, let’s take a look at the first part of golf’s Mid Summer Classic.

The Favorites

Daniel Berger (+15.29 Pinnacle) Berger has been on quite a roll as of late, winning The FedEx St. Jude prior to The U.S. Open and then coming up short in a playoff at The Travelers the week after The U.S. Open. This is his first time ever playing The John Deere.

Brian Harman (+19.18 Pinnacle) It was a couple of months ago that Harman won The Wells Fargo and a few years ago that he won The John Deere. He is also coming off of a 2nd place finish at The U.S. Open. Not surprising that he is a favorite this week and he can really putt.

Kevin Kisner (+21.27 Pinnacle) Kisner had been in great form and that turned into a victory at Colonial back in late May. The tides have turned the past couple of weeks but TPC Deere Run should be an excellent set up for his game. He’s finished 35th and 20th in his last two visits.

The Contenders

Danny Lee (+22.65 Pinnacle) This guy just seems to love the heat of the Summer. In his last seven events, he has recorded four Top 10 finishes including a 9th last week at The Greenbrier. He has only played here four times with two missed cuts and a 3rd place in his last appearance in 2015.

Kyle Stanley (+26.28 Pinnacle) Another player that has been very hot for a couple of months now with a 4th at The PLAYERS, a 6th at The Memorial, and a win at The Quicken Loans National two weeks ago. He has a Top 10, two Top 20’s, and a 22nd here last year.

Charley Hoffman (+1900 5Dimes) Hoffman’s results at TPC Deere Run are a bit of a mixed bag but he does have a Top 10 and a Top 15 in six tries. However, his form has been excellent this season as he is really vaulting himself into the company of some of the best players in the world. Ranked 39th in the world, Hoffman finished 22nd at The Masters, 8th at The U.S. Open, and is coming off of a 3rd at The Travelers.

The Long Shots

Ben Martin (+5000 BetOnLine) Martin finished 2nd here last year and was 5th two weeks ago at The National. He hasn’t missed a cut on Tour in eight straight starts.

Bubba Watson (+46.55 Pinnacle) A two time Masters champ and former Top 10 player in the world, Bubba has dipped to 44th in the rankings – but it is something to see him in the neighborhood of 40-50 to one to win a relatively benign golf tournament against a less than stellar field. He did take 6th at The Memorial just over a month ago.

Matt Jones (+11000 5Dimes) 2008 through 2013 saw Matt Jones miss three cuts here and also record three Top 10 finishes. He has the short game and his form is solid with just two missed cuts in all of 2017. He took 27th here last year.

The Pick

Chad Campbell (+6600 BetOnLine) It is often a player at a much shorter price taking home the hardware here at TPC Deere Run but we spoke about the consistency of the course and Chad Campbell has exemplified that, having never missed a cut here in nine tries. He does have a Top 10 finish here to his credit and two Top 15’s in the last three years. He also has two Top 10’s and a Top 15 over his last five starts on Tour. He is number one on Tour in Scrambling and hits a ton of greens. If the putter gets hot this week, I see him on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday and at 66-to-1, we’ll take that.

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