2024 John Deere Classic Preview

2024 John Deere Classic Preview

For the second week in succession many of the PGA Tour’s biggest names are skipping the action this week as they prepare for the final major of the season. The Open in just a few weeks time. 

With many of the Tour’s biggest stars absent, this gives others the chance to shine and the 2024 John Deere Classic could be anyone’s game.

Offering vital FedEx points, big prize money and the opportunity to become a winner, the John Deere Classic carries extra motivation as the the top two finishers who haven’t already qualified for The Open will be able to secure their place in the field. 

With plenty on the line, here is everything you need to know about the 2024 John Deere Classic.

The Course

A permanent fixture on the PGA Tour, the John Deere Classic has been held at TPC Deere Run since 2000 and statistically ranks as one of the easier courses that the pros will face all year. Three of the last four editions of the tournament have seen the winner post winning scores of -21 and there is little to suggest that will change this year.

Measuring at just a fraction under 7,300 yards, the layout of the course is fairly easy to navigate and as long as the players can keep the ball out of the trees and are mindful of the water that is present across several holes, low scoring will very much be the order of the day. 

The Course

Who is expected to challenge this week?

With plenty of low scoring expected, many will be heading to Illinois with high hopes.

Set to start as the bookies favourite is South Korean star Sungjae Im. Having garnered a reputation for being somewhat of an iron man on Tour, Im has notched up two wins with his last victory coming in the 2021 Shriners Children’s Open.

Despite not winning for almost three years, Im arrives at the John Deere Classic in great form having posted three top ten finishes in his last four starts. A winner this season on the Korean Tour, Im is clearly swinging the club well. What can often be his nemesis is his putting, but if the flat stick is in good working order, expect another big showing this week. 

Last year’s winner Sepp Straka is back for more and the Austrian will hope to move back into the world’s top twenty with a big performance this week. 

Having got off to a slow start this season, Straka is rounding into form nicely and has three top five finishes in his last eight starts. Often deadly with his irons, he is one of the most prolific birdie scorers on Tour and once again should find the setup this week completely to his liking. 

Consistency can often be his Achilles heel but if he can continue to bring in his good form from the last few weeks then he looks set to go close.

Rounding out the top three in the betting is Aaron Rai. One of the more unorthodox players on Tour with his iron covers and two gloves, Rai is the midst of a great run of form and is currently at a career high in the rankings at 54.

Having found himself in contention at several tournaments over the last few weeks, Rai hasn’t quite been able to string four rounds together but came mightily close to winning his first PGA title when finishing as the runner up of last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. 

Another who can sometimes unravel on the greens, Rai will be playing this event for the first time and will hope for a big week that will secure his place at the Open.

Who are the value picks?

Due to the open nature of the tournament there are several players who could be worth a second look in the market. 

The most obvious is Jordan Spieth. A three time major winner, Spieth’s game has been out of sorts for years and he still looks to be battling the gremlins in his swing.

Without a top ten finish on Tour since the Texas Open back in March, Spieth will be hoping for a resurgence this week as he looks for form ahead of the Open and the Presidents Cup. 

By no means a lock for selection, Spieth has plenty to prove over the next few weeks and will hope to kickstart his year with a win this week.

J.T Poston has long been regarded as one of the best putters on Tour and that was shown to full effect when Poston won this title back in 2022.

The location of his last victory on Tour, Poston is another who is in need of a big showing to secure his place in the Open field in a few weeks time. 

With just one top ten finish in his last seven starts, Poston has been making cuts but hasn’t been troubling the tops of any leaderboards. Heading back to a course where he had enjoyed tremendous success previously should spark an upturn in form and his chances can’t be dismissed. 

It was around this time of year where Lucas Glover embarked on some of the best form of his career as he put together a winning run to creep into the FedEx Playoffs. 

Since winning the Wyndham Classic and St Jude, it’s been a tough year for the veteran who has yet to post a top ten finish. Looking to find his form, this could represent a decent opportunity. He finished in a tie for 6th at this tournament last year and will hope to better that result this time around.

Who are the value picks

Are there any long-shots worth considering?

Last week we posted a successful long shot winner when Cam Davis lifted the title for a second time at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. This week there are a couple of players that could be worth chancing at a big price.

The first is Harry Higgs. The burly American lost his full tour card last season and is currently trying to make his way back from the Korn Ferry Tour. 

Higgs has been in great form on the Korn Ferry Tour and has two wins this year. He heads into this event in good form having placed in a tie for 4th just two starts ago. At odds of 125/1 he could be worth siding with. The second player who could be worth a small play is Alex Smalley. The runner up of this event last year, Smalley has had a rough 2024 and is in danger of losing his status on Tour. In need of a huge week, a return to a course he clearly enjoys could be just what he needs and although a win looks a tall task, for those that like to bet on a top 8 finish he could be worth a second look.