5 Longshots to Target at the John Deere Classic

min read
Patton Kizzire chips onto the first green during the third round of the Sony Open golf event, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
(AP Photo/Matt York)
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelGolf Jul 02, 2024, 8:04 AM

Here’s the thing about betting PGA Tour events with weaker fields: Without many superstars at the top of the golf odds board, these are essentially wide open… yet without those players, most of the guys worth taking are tagged with much shorter prices than usual.

All of which makes it difficult to identify any potential longshot winners.

That’s the Catch-22 we’re dealing with at this week’s John Deere Classic, where a Patrick Cantlay late-Monday morning withdrawal eliminated the player with the highest probability of winning, but also shortened other odds at the top of the board and beyond.

Even so, let’s uncover five players with triple-digit odds who could be worth a sprinkle this week.

5 Longshots to Target at the John Deere Classic

Patton Kizzire (+10000)

The old notion that all a player needs to do is make more putts than the other guys has been displaced by advanced analytics which prove that the long game is more important than the short game. More often that not, however, it’s what happens in between driver and putter which represents the greatest delineation between success and failure. It should come as no surprise that Scottie Scheffler is far and away the PGA Tour leader in SG: Approach, easily ranking as the best iron player.

Just behind him is a group of players who have enjoyed different degrees of success this year – Tom Hoge, Tony Finau, Core Conners, Xander Schauffele, Aaron Rai and Keith Mitchell – though not one whose presence on the list would shock hardcore golf observers. The first revelation on this ranking would be Kizzire, who ranks eighth this year, which means he’s been hitting his irons better than Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas.

Perhaps the proof of this stat’s relevance comes in the fact that Kizzire really isn’t doing much else very well, yet he’s still finished top-30 in five of his last six starts. That falls in line with his John Deere record, which shows four top-30s in five appearances. I like taking the small chance that Kizzire’s irons stay hot this week and the driver/putter combo cooperates a little more than usual in this friendly environment.

Troy Merritt (+10000)

Sometimes, all of the research comes down to this: Merritt was 17th at last year’s John Deere and 17th last week in Detroit. Merritt was on my SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio show prior to last week’s opening round and he just sounds so full of optimism and positivity. With a track record of playing some of his best golf in the Midwest, he’s now gained strokes with his irons in four of his last five events and with his putter in three of his last five, which might not sound like much, but is pretty impressive for a guy who struggled with the putting yips as recently as last summer. Here’s hoping he’ll lock up that full-circle comeback at some point.

Ben Kohles (+12500)

Fresh off a season during which he was the best player on the Korn Ferry circuit, there was reason to believe Kohles’ return tour of duty to the big leagues would be something of an immediate success. Instead, it took a few months to reach his peak, but the University of Virginia product coulda/shoulda/woulda won the CJ Cup Byron Nelson two months ago, making a somewhat inexcusable final-hole bogey to lose by a stroke.

Since then, he’s made the cut in four of five starts, including a T-20 at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. We already know that his upside is good enough to win at this level – or at least, almost win – and with driving accuracy and putting his strength, this 125/1 number is a massive value compared with those 25-35 points shorter.

Nick Hardy (+12500)

If you’re looking for some motivation here, just check the bio: Hardy is an Illinois native who played at the University of Illinois, so you know he’d love nothing more than to play his best golf in front of the local fans. Granted, that hasn’t happened much this year, as he’s made the cut in 11 of 17 starts, but hasn’t finished better than 25th

Even so, the numbers don’t look bad, as he’s gained strokes with his irons in five straight measured events and he’s better than Tour average both off the tee and with his putter this season.

Zac Blair (+30000)

While he doesn’t have an individual top-20 yet this year, Blair has at least been knocking on the door recently, with results of T-24 and T-26 among his last three starts. Though he doesn’t have much of a record to shout about at this one, his best performances throughout his career have often occurred on shorter venues. 

This one isn’t without plenty of trepidation, but if you’re seeking a massive longshot to the tune of something in the neighborhood of Michael Kim’s triple-digit win here in 2018, I’d suggest Blair as the best potential option.

PGA Tour Betting at BetMGM

BetMGM is the premier online sportsbook for PGA Tour betting each week of the season.

Whether you’re a first-time bettor checking out British Open odds, a casual golf fan tracking line movement, or a longtime diehard breaking down weather trends, there are fun betting opportunities for everyone.

If you don’t have a sportsbook account, register today with BetMGM’s welcome bonus. And check back for the best sportsbook promotions each day of the year.

BetMGM First Bet Offer $1,500
About the Author

Jason Sobel

Read More @JasonSobelGolf

Jason Sobel is a Brand Ambassador for BetMGM. He joins after six years with Action Network. Prior to Action, Jason spent a total of 17 years in two stints at ESPN (1997-2011; 2015-18) and four years at Golf Channel (2011-15). He also currently works as a host for "Hitting the Green" on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio and contributes to the channel's on-site coverage during major championships. He's won four Sports Emmy awards, more than a dozen Golf Writers Association of America accolades and has earned an honorable mention in the Best of American Sportswriting series.

Jason Sobel is a Brand Ambassador for BetMGM. He joins after six years with Action Network. Prior to Action, Jason spent a total of 17 years in two stints at ESPN (1997-2011; 2015-18) and four years at Golf Channel (2011-15). He also currently works as a host for "Hitting the Green" on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio and contributes to the channel's on-site coverage during major championships. He's won four Sports Emmy awards, more than a dozen Golf Writers Association of America accolades and has earned an honorable mention in the Best of American Sportswriting series.