Kevin Na, Si Woo Kim, Pat Perez, Charles Howell III and defending champion Dylan Frittelli will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider.
As golden as the fields surrounding the Quad Cities, so is the anniversary of the John Deere Classic. This week’s tournament is celebrating its 50th since the inaugural staging won by Deane Beman in 1971. It wasn’t an official event until the following year, but Beman won that one, too. Two years later, he became the second commissioner of the PGA TOUR.
The 2020 edition was canceled by the pandemic, so Frittelli has been among the throng who has experienced an extra year as a defending champion. The South African already had a pair of victories on the EuroJournal, but his title at TPC Deere Run in 2019 served as his coronation on the PGA TOUR.
In what was his tournament debut (and as a first-time TOUR member), Frittelli adhered to the script for what it takes to tackle TPC Deere Run. He ranked T10 in greens in regulation, 15th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and second in SG: Putting.
Hidden on his scorecards was the fact that he led the field in scrambling, salvaging 15 of 16 chances, but he had to because he was a pedestrian 35th in turning greens in regulation into par breakers. If you were to ask Frittelli which is more important at the Deere, scoring or saving par, the correct answer would be, “Yes.” His missed only two of 62 tries inside 10 feet and was perfect on 53 looks inside seven feet. The output was a two-stroke margin of victory at 21-under 263.
The field averaged a predictable 69.510 and it clobbered the ball off the tee like it hadn’t collectively in years. The average distance of all drives was 293.1 yards. That’s nine yards longer than the longest of the previous five editions (2017). Some regression to the historical mean should be expected, but that fact is incentive not to throttle down.
There have been no changes to the 7,268-yard walk. Just as it has been in the two non-majors since the U.S. Open at Torrey PInes, primary rough is trimmed to four inches and the bentgrass greens are governed to average 12 feet on the Stimpmeter.
After a pleasant opener with a high in the upper 70s, rain and maybe storms could disrupt the proceedings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Wind likely will pose a problem only in the form of outflows from encroaching inclement weather.
The final exemption into The Open Championship is reserved for the top finisher at TPC Deere Run, not otherwise exempt. As of Monday, 15 in the field already have qualified.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers; Fantasy Insider
SUNDAY: Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Rookie Watch
* – Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.