Probably not quite the ‘classic’ its name suggests, but the John Deere reminds us of the good and bad of golf betting.

Back in 2013, a young Jordan Spieth made his reputation by sinking a 72nd hole bunker shot to put the willies up course specialist and lumpy bet Zach Johnson. As is the way, the Deere Run guru then bogied his final hole, going on to defeat in a three man play-off.

Fast-forward nine years and J.T Poston landed a confident wager in last year’s event, leading all the way to land a comfortable three shot victory. I Can’t wait to see which way it goes this time.

Expect birdies galore around the course this week, with very little difficulty in finding fairways.

With most of the field managing to hit the large greens, GIR stats are worth less than they might otherwise be. Instead, players need to hit it close enough so they make the majority of putts. As with previous winners Bryson DeChambeau and Lucas Glover (to name just two), high-class ball-strikers can give themselves enough chances to land their share of birdies.

Current form looks a must here this week, with cross-over form from Travelers including Spieth, DeChambeau, Daniel Berger and Brian Harman, and Rocket Mortgage champions Cameron Davis and DeChambeau showing up well at this week’s venue, all recording a similar winning score.

Emiliano Grillo

When the market opened, I felt Emiliano Grillo would be third or fourth favourite, so finding him at a bigger price than PGA maidens Denny McCarthy, Adam Schenk and new star on the block Ludvig Aberg was a pleasant surprise.

The three names seem to have more potential improvement in them than the 30-year-old Argentine, but none have the victories, or the course form, to justify being ahead in the market.

McCarthy has lifted his reputation even further with his play-off loss at Muirfield and leading up to the halfway point at River Highlands, before fading away when under the cosh here last year, allowing the experienced Grillo to be the closest challenger to Poston (alongside Chritiaan Bezhuidenhout). Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Aberg may well be the Second Coming but faded away late on at both River Highlands and Detroit, recording large minus figures for his iron play. Sub 25-1? Really.

Schenk makes a lot of sense on recent form, with iron play making up the most of his impressive tee-to-green stats, but at anything over 25/1 in a weak field, the Charles Schwab winner appeals more than anyone.

Grillo ranks 3rd on tour-tips overall ranking for this event, with half-a-dozen instances of top-25 tee-to-green play in his previous eight starts. In the same period (since Bay Hill), the Argentine has listed in the top 12 for approach play on five occasions, leading the field at the Arnold Palmer and ranking 12th at Travelers.

The 15th place at River Highlands on his last outing is the best finish there since 2018 (19th) after which Grillo suffered a slump, falling down the world rankings from 47th to 156th during 2020.

2021 saw him come back with a runner-up behind Stewart Cink at Harbour Town, following up a year later when matching his second place here with a silver medal behind a rampant Tony Finau at the 3M.

Grillo was trending in the right direction before his play-off win at Colonial. Indeed, form figures of 7/5/23 and an unconcerning missed-cut at the PGA, as well as the win, from a nervous Schenk, and the world number one Scottie Scheffler, reads very nicely in this field.

Whilst never the greatest putter in the world, that aspect has improved greatly. Now ranking in 6th for putting average off a large number of greens hit, he has positive figures at five of his last seven starts and comes here recalling last season’s +8.5 strokes tee-to-green and +4 strokes for the flat stick.

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Chez Reavie

Doug Ghim is playing nice golf at the moment, several years after being touted as a superstar.

This test suits the short-hitting but accurate player, and with form figures of 33/15/12/19/27, he’s the type to appeal as a solid top-20 bet.

For win purposes though, I’ll revisit a Grillo formline and row in with the man that lost to the selection by just one shot at the Tour Championship some eight years ago, Chez Reavie.

I put up the 41-year-old a couple of weeks ago at a monster 200/1 to regain his 2019 Travelers crown, and he gave us a thrill until fading away on Sunday, yet still paying out a healthy return for a place.

A 2021 finish of 18th and a previous pair of top-15 finishes led to him going off around 50/1 for this event 12 months ago, and I’m not sure he’s done anything, or faces tough enough opposition, to be 10 points longer.

Previous to his latest win at the Barracuda in July last year, the three-time winner posted 27th at Colonial and 8th at River Highlands. This time, he comes here after being 12thg at the halfway stage of the Charles Schwab and in second place after three rounds in Connecticut.

Now, with six consecutive cuts made and four of his last eight rounds in the low-to-mid-60s, he arrives after recording an average of between 5.5 and 6.0 strokes for approaches and tee-to-green, a repeat of which will see him bang there come Sunday evening.

With River Highlands and Deere Run form in abundance, he’s yet another old campaigner I feel will prove too much for the young guns.

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David Lipsky

Finally, we’ll go with a pair of three-figure pokes, firstly in the form of David Lipsky, a player with two wins on the European Tour at tracks that require a touch of guile over strength.

It may be five years since the 34-year-old worked his way around Leopard Creek to back up his Crans victory, but his career has not been devoid of highlights, including a four shot victory over Taylor Pendrith at the short San Antonio course in Texas.

2021 saw him record six top-10 finishes, including at Abu Dhabi and Valderrama, whilst a year later he finished top-10 at the Corales and better-class Mexico Open, behind Jon Rahm and Tony Finau.

A  season-opening top-five at the Sony promised much and, whilst it hasn’t gone that well, Lipsky can still boast top-20 finishes at the Charles Schwab and Memorial, where at the halfway point he was first and sixth respectively.

Always around 24th place last season, Lipsky has shown he can raise his game at a lower level, whilst two of his three victories have come in 25-under and 18-under. He can do a job when conditions suit, and at 125/1, he’ll do as a chance to gain some decent each-way money.

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Carl Yuan

Next to him at 125s is 26-year-old rookie Carl Yuan, now finding his feet at this level yet massive amounts of points bigger than some of his more sexy rivals.

A winner on his home tour, he had a remarkable 2022, winning in Louisiana, and racking up a further four top-five and four top-10 finishes and getting himself in at the highest level a year after he was due.

Explaining why he missed promotion 12 months earlier, Yuan said it was every player’s dream to represent their country, so popped off to The Olympics rather than guarantee his PGA card through the final six events of 2021.

Still, he’s here now and, after a slow start, has made three consecutive cuts – Houston, RSM and Sony – before another lull from mid-January.

Shaking that off, he bounced back to form with the halfway lead at the better-class Canadian Open, stating, “That’s my goal [retaining his card] coming into the week. That’s my No. 1 goal. Not a result goal, just like being in the present, hitting shot by shot and, yeah, being out here trying to have the most fun. All of it.”

It seems to be working as he finished a highly respectable 18th before landing another top-20 at Detroit last week after a third-round 64 had got him inside the top-10 going into payday.

This massive hitter will be able to club down for most of this week’s test, ensuring he builds on some steady seasonal figures for tee-to-green and with untold improvement to come.

There is a chance he needs a much bigger environment to thrive, but as an unexposed, potentially high-class improving recruit, he should be considered.

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Odds are correct at the time of posting

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