PGA Tour Picks: John Deere Classic


Withall of the players in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings taking a break two weeks after the U.S. Open and two weeks ahead of the Open Championship, the last major of the year, it gives players not that far behind them a chance to make their mark.

That’s what J.T. Poston did when he captured the John Deere Classic last season, and Poston is back to defend his title this week at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.

“My first win was in 2019 (the Wyndham Championship), so the defense was during COVID, so all this was over a Zoom call last time,” Poston recalled. “When we played the tournament, there were no fans out there, nothing.

“This is kind of my first rodeo, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited. I think it’s a fun aspect of being back when you’re coming back as the defending champion. I’m going to try not to put too much pressure on myself and go out and perform like I would normally try to. I don’t think there will be any sort of different game plan for the week other than just looking forward to being back.

“I’d be OK with maybe somebody else going low early and then I’ll catch up to them. Maybe that would be ideal.”

However, Poston has been in search of his game this season, missing the cut in five of his last seven tournaments and 10 times in all, while recording six finishes in the top 25—the best a tie for sixth in The American Express.

That’s why you won’t find the defending champion listed among the pre-tournament favorites.

That list includes Russell Henley (pictured), who closed with a 61 to finish second behind Poston last season, and Adam Hadwin of Canada, who lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler last Sunday in the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

“I’ve never finished with a 10-under 61, so that was awesome for me,” said Henley, who claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory late last year in the World Wide Technology Championship. “You know, if you would have told me at the start of the day: ‘We’ll give you 66,’ I would have said: ‘That’s pretty good. I’ll take it.’ So to get five better than that is really awesome.”

Also among the betting favorites are Cameron Young, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, Denny McCarthy, Taylor Moore, Seamus Power of Ireland, Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, Adam Schenk and Eric Cole.

However, with such a wide-open field, the winner could come from out of nowhere.


1. Russell Henley, United States – Could be closing in on his fifth PGA Tour victory, as he has eight top-20 finishes in his last nine starts, including a win by four strokes in the World Wide Technology Championship late last year. Henley also tied for fourth in the Masters and tied for 19th in the Players. He closed with a 61 to finish solo second in the John Deere four years ago.

2. Adam Hadwin, Canada – Looking to win for the first time since the 2017 Valspar Championship, Hadwin lost in a playoff last week to Rickie Fowler in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. It was his second runner-up finish of the season among eight finishes in the top 20. He tied for eighth in the 2016 John Deere Classic, closing with 67-64, after tying for 18th in 2015.

3. Denny McCarthy, United States – Four-time winner as  pro still is looking for his first PGA Tour, as he lost in a playoff to Viktor Hovland in the Memorial, tied for 20th in the U.S. Open and tied for seventh in the Rocket Mortgage. That gives McCarthy 12 results in the top 25 this season. He was in the hunt until a closing 71 and tied for sixth in the John Deere last year.   

4. Ludvig Adberg, Sweden – The rookie from Texas Tech, who claimed two pro victories at home in Sweden and twice won the Ben Hogan Award as the best college golfer in the country, has been close on the PGA Tour but one bad round each time gave him a tie for 24th in the API, a tie for 25th in the RBC Canadian Open, a tie for 24th in the Travelers. Makes John Deere debut.   

5. Cameron Young, United States – The 2020-21 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, who has won four times on lower pro tours, remains in search of his first PGA Tour victory, with his best finish this season a tie for seventh in the Masters, his third top 10 in a major, and he also tied for 10th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The former Wake Forest star is making his John Deere debut.

6 Adam Schenk, United States – Coming off a solo seventh in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Schenk still is after his first PGA Tour victory after losing to Emiliano Grillo recently in a playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge among his eight top-25 finishes this season. Two-time winner as a pro tied for fourth in the 2021 John Deere after tying for sixth two years earlier.  

7. Emiliano Grillo, Argentina – Claimed his second PGA Tour victory and fourth as a pro in the Charles Schwab Challenge in May, and has recorded eight finishes in the top 25 this season including four in the top five. Grillo made his debut in the John Deere Classic last season and posted four rounds in the 60s to wind up in a tie for second, three strokes behind J.T. Poston.

8. Taylor Moore, United States – Earned his first PGA Tour victory and third as a professional earlier this year in the Valspar Championship, and is coming off a tie for fourth in the Rocket Mortgage Classic that gave him 10 results in the top 25 on the circuit this season. Moore made his first appearance in the John Deere Classic last season and wound up in a tie for 24th.  

9. Seamus Power, Ireland – After claiming his second PGA Tour victory and seventh as a pro in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship early this season, Power tied for third at Mayakoba and tied for fifth in the RSM Classic in his next two starts, and has nine finishes in the top 25. He is making his fifth start in the John Deere and tied for eighth in 2021 and tied for 16th in 2021.

10. Eric Cole, United States – The rookie from Palm Springs, who has won 12 times on lower tours, almost got his first PGA Tour victory before losing to Chris Kirk in a playoff at the Honda Classic in  February. Cole has eight results in the top 25 this season, including a tie for 15th in the PGA Championship. In his John Deere debut last year, he shot 69-74—143 to miss the cut.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Keith Mitchell, United States; Nick Taylor, Canada; J.T. Poston, United States; Byeong Hun An, South Korea; Taylor Montgomery, United States; Patrick Rodgers, United States; Matt Kuchar, United States; Sepp Straka, Austria; K.H. Lee, South Korea; Ryan Palmer, United States.


1. Stephan Jaeger, Germany – Six-time winner on Korn Ferry Tour remains winless on the PGA Tour, but was T-9 in Rocket Mortgage and has recorded seven finishes in the top 25 this season.

2. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, South Africa – The 10-time winner as a pro has six top-25s this season, including a T-13 in the Players when a closing 74 cost him. T-2 in John Deere last year.

3. Beau Hossler, United States – Hoss, who in a lost playoff to Ian Poulter at Houston in 2018, has eight top-25 finishes this season. He finished T-26 in John Deere Classic four years ago.

4. Dylan Wu, United States – Winner of the 2021 Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour, has six top-25 finishes this season, including a T-10 in the Honda Classic.

5. MJ Daffue, South Africa – Daffue, who captured the 2013 NeSmith Chevrolet Classic on the NGA Pro Tour, has nine top-10s this season, including a T-9 in Alfred Dunhill Championship.

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