2021 John Deere Classic: Berger A Bettors’ Favorite, But What About Zach Johnson?

Written By Danny Lawhon on July 7, 2021

For all the lip service given to sports events being cornerstone moments for their communities, the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic is living, breathing proof of that concept in the Quad Cities.

DavenportBettendorfRock Island and Moline have seen the annual John Deere tournament provide millions of dollars to local charities, along with dozens of dramatic moments each summer over its 50 years in the area. The pride emanating from this Midwest locale permeates every blade of grass on the TPC Deere Run property that brings world-class athletes to the region.

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So, when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the 2020 version of the Deere, perhaps no community on the men’s professional golf circuit felt more pain than one of its smallest. Thus, the return of the Deere in 2021 before the British Open is a triumphant but necessary return for the community.

And fans will be waiting with open arms to embrace the idea that, as the tournament claims, “magic happens here.”

How to watch the John Deere Classic

  • Where: TPC Deere Run, 3100 Heather Knoll, Silvis, IL 61282
  • When: Thursday, July 8, through Sunday, July 11
  • TV: Golf Channel (Thursday and Friday); CBS (Saturday-Sunday)
  • Broadcast Times: 3-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon-1:30 p.m. (Golf) and 2-5 p.m. (CBS) Saturday and Sunday
  • Course Architects: D.A. Weibring and Chris Gray, 2000
  • Yardage: 7,268 yards, par 71
  • Defending Champion: Dylan Frittelli (21-under 263 in 2019; 2020 event canceled because of COVID-19)
  • Purse: $6,200,000
  • Winner’s Share: $1,116,000
  • Tickets: $50 per day (does not include parking)

Final British Open spot up for grabs

The John Deere Classic is well accustomed to having to sell its atmosphere and that sense of magic without the automatic draw of the top-ranked players in the Official World Golf Ranking.

The Deere often gets short shrift on the schedule because of its proximity to the British, which takes place in England next week. Many top pros make the trip overseas a week early to get acclimated to the time difference and oft-inclement weather.

But that neither dims the enthusiasm of the spectators nor quells the desire of competitors to walk away with the $1.1 million first prize.

Current superstars Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau have earned their first PGA Tour victories in the Quad Cities.

Just two years ago, next-generation stars Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland were all in attendance on sponsor’s exemptions as they looked to kickstart their careers. All have since become winners on Tour, including Morikawa’s victory at the 2020 PGA Championship.

It remains to be seen who will earn their star turn this week. There is one final spot in next week’s British Open up for grabs for the golfer who places highest in this week’s top five who has not yet qualified for the major. He’ll earn a spot on the annual charter flight from John Deere that sends all qualifiers for the British Open directly to the competition site.

An unusual concern this year, however, will be the ongoing spread of COVID-19 amidst the British Open being contested. Strict contract tracing rules from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club association conducting the championship could end up affecting many players on those flights if someone tests positive for the virus.

Berger a consensus favorite at Iowa sportsbooks

Once that field becomes bereft of household names, oddsmakers and bettors alike will gravitate toward that spare highly ranked golfer in the field.

It is not a surprise that Daniel Berger (16th in the OWGR) dominates the future landscape. He tops the list at FanDuel with +950 odds and is a flat +1000 at DraftKings, PointsBet and BetRivers.

Predicting outright golf winners for betting purposes is almost folly to begin with, and Berger’s value is not conducive to taking home a trophy in a 156-player field. There’s not much relative value going further down the pegs either, as the best odds for a top-10 Berger finish are a scant +125, also at FanDuel. A top-30 performance at BetRivers carries -225 odds, which is an almost laughable “value.”

Odds on John Deere Classic


More fun John Deere Classic bets abound

However, dig beyond the simple futures bet, and you can find some intriguing markets all over the place.

DraftKings Sportsbook offers for the top former University of Georgia player in the field this week (there are five). Tournament second-favorite Brian Harman has +125 odds in that market.

PointsBet Sportsbook has a staggering 140 bets on combinations of players who will “either, neither or both” finish in some conglomeration of the top 5 or top 10. (Seriously, go take a look; it’s too much to list!)

And media content guru Teddy Greenstein has put up a special tournament boost of +100 odds for a round of 10-under 61 or better on the course. TPC Deere Run is home to one of the iconic scores of 59, when Paul Goydos achieved the feat in 2010.

FanDuel takes the nationality game a step further, with double-digit markets in top players by nationality, including the USA.

BetRivers is offering abundant market choices for the tournament winner’s Sunday score on No. 18 (par -175, bogey +350, birdie +450).

BetMGM Sportsbook in Iowa has its set of boosters, mostly centering on the cut line. You can bet the trio of Is Woo Kim, Seamus Power and Iowa native Johnson to all make the cut at a collective +190, for example.

Zach Johnson still seeking form

Johnson, 45, a Cedar Rapids product and Drake University graduate, has seen his abilities wane in his mid-40s in comparison with the cavalcade of bombers now frolicking in PGA Tour fairways.

But the 2012 John Deere Classic winner considers the Quad Cities event as a virtual home game, and the 2007 Masters and 2015 British Open champion honors his hometown heritage with regular appearances at TPC Deere Run.

Still, Johnson has had a mostly rough go of things in the 2021 calendar year. He has just one top-10 finish (in March, at T-8 at the Honda Classic) in six months, and he’s also missed five of his last nine cuts. He’s -250 to make the 36-hole cut, +175 to miss it and +3300 to win on DraftKings.

How to bet on the Classic in Iowa and Illinois

One of the unique features of the John Deere Classic is its crossover appeal in two states. However, with the event geographically taking place on the Illinois side of the Quad Cities, Iowa bettors wanting to bet out of state will want to plan ahead.

Golf betting is legal in the Land of Lincoln as well. However, until you’ve registered at a retail sportsbook in Illinois, you won’t be able to bet using your phone.

If you’re thinking of entertaining some live bets on the John Deere tournament, you may want to stay in Iowa to register for a betting account online and wager here.

Photo by Marta Lavandier / AP
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Written by
Danny Lawhon

Danny Lawhon has more than a decade of reporting experience in three states, including nearly 10 years with the Des Moines Register. He's covered college and professional sports, the NCAA Tournament and the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours. Danny is a professional musician in his spare time and plays the piano and pipe organ (seriously). He now covers the online gambling industry in Michigan.

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