The Midwest Swing comes to an end this week in Silvis, Illinois.
It's the John Deere Classic which is known for their charter plane directly to The Open Championship. That apparently wasn't attractive enough for some of the world's best this week because they've attracted one of the weaker fields we've seen all year.
The average joe at home may not get excited for this event but diehard gamers should be pumped because it's another week where the games rising stars get sponsor invites to showcase their skills. We saw Matthew Wolff cash in on that opportunity last week while Collin Morikawa was right behind him. Both are in the field again this week while Viktor Hovland, Doc Redman, and Justin Suh continue to hunt for their big breakthrough and full-time playing status.
It's another full field of 156 golfers with the top 70 and ties getting a chance to play the final two rounds.
TPC Deere Run will play host to this event which has been the case since Y2K scared us all.
The course is a par 71 that plays just under 7,300 yards. It was designed by D.A. Weibring in the late 1990s so the course is still fairly young, by golf course standards.
The layout features some of the widest fairways on TOUR so it's no surprise to see that the field hits about 71 percent of fairways at Deere Run. The only other courses/events with lower averages are Corales, Kapalua, RSM Clasicc, and Nine Bridges.
You would think that generous fairways would lead to bombers taking it apart but it's been the short and accurate hitters that have feasted over the years. As long as you're in the fairways here, you can attack the greens which are typically soft and receptive.
Just looking at the scorecard from last year's winner (Michael Kim) we notice that six of the holes were definitely wedge holes with his approaches originating from inside 140 yards. He also saw approaches around 155 yards on two of the holes which suggest this course is largely about wedge work and short-iron play. Duh, it's a birdie-fest, that elite wedge play is the easiest way to set up all those scoring chances.
When looking at the par 5s we see birdies rates of 34%, 41%, and 51% with a fair amount of eagles landing as well. You are losing shots to the field if you don't birdie at least two of the three par 5s, per round. With the par 5s accessible to all, we don't see a major advantage to length which is a theme around TPC Deere Run.
For turf the golfers will see bentgrass fairways, kentucky bluegrass rough, and bentgrass greens. Very similar to last week at TPC Twin Cities. The greens are slightly smaller their TOUR average but the receptiveness effective makes them larger targets. They are prepped to run around 11 feet which is slow by TOUR standards.
Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:
Plantation Course at Kapalua (Tourney of Champs)
Silverado Resort and Spa (Safeway Open)
TPC Scottsdale (WM Phoenix Open)
TPC Summerlin (Shriners)
PGA WEST & La Quinta (Desert Classic)
We are matching up over/underperformance on particular courses with similar scoring environments and we're left with this list.
All of these courses/events yielded boatloads of birdies but also don't have a lot of big numbers lurking.
If you want to take the location + grass angle then courses like TPC Twin Cities, Detroit GC, and TPC River Highlands fit that bill. Oh, it's the Midwest Swing.
Thursday: Mostly sunny with a high of 82 degrees. Calm winds around 7-to-12 MPH.
Friday: Sunny with a high near 87 degrees. Calm winds around 5-to-8 MPH.
Weekend: Temps increase into the lower 90s. At the Midwest humidity and it will be rather toasty over the weekend.
A slight chance of storms in the lead-up but precipitation is off the forecast for the actual event right now. Fantastic.