Stat attack!: John Deere Classic review


Let’s call it right now. At some point this season, Erik Compton, Kevin Kisner and Hudson Swafford are going to win on the PGA Tour.

Heck, every other player from the University of Georgia has won, why not them? Brian Harman became the sixth Bulldog to win on Tour this year, taking the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., with a 22-under 262 to beat tournament favorite Zach Johnson (more on him later) by one stroke.

Harman’s win was the seventh by a Georgia player this season (Masters champion Bubba Watson has two) and moves him to 14th in the FedEx Cup standings, but only fifth among Georgia players.

PGA Tour victories by college in 2013-14

  College Wins  Players 
 Georgia Bubba Watson (2), Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd, Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley
 Baylor 3 Jimmy Walker
 UNLV 2 Ryan Moore, Adam Scott
2 Patrick Reed
Matt Kuchar, Chesson Hadley

Georgia Bulldogs on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Player FedEx
Starts  Cuts
Best finish 
 Bubba Watson 2 14 12  Won Masters, Won No. Trust
 Chris Kirk* 21 20  Won McGladrey 
 Brendon Todd  9 22 19 7 Won Byron Nelson 
 Harris English  11  22  18  Won Mayakoba
 Brian Harman  14  25  17  Won John Deere
 Russell Henley 41 22 12 2 Won Sony Open 
 Erik Compton 53 22  15  T-2 U.S. Open
 Kevin Kisner 108 23  15  T-6 Wells Fargo
 Hudson Swafford  141 23 9 T-8 Sony Open 

*It wasn’t all good for Georgia boys at the John Deere. Chris Kirk missed the cut for the first time this season at TPC Deere Run.

The win was the sixth top-10 finish of the season for Harman, who has had an up-and-down season. He has yet to put together consecutive top 10s on the year, and he missed the cut in his previous two starts before winning. His eight missed cuts are sixth among players with a win this season, and he’s the second straight PGA Tour winner who has missed at least eight cuts this year after Angel Cabrera, winner at the Greenbrier Classic.

Missed cuts by a PGA Tour winner in 2013-14

  Player Missed cuts  2013-14 win 
 Chesson Hadley 13 Puerto Rico Open
 Scott Stallings   11  Farmers Insurance 
 Steven Bowditch  11  Valero Texas Open
 Russell Henley  10  Sony Open
 Angel Cabrera  Greenbrier Classic
 Brian Harman  John Deere Classic

Harman is also the 10th player (also like Cabrera) to win while shooting four rounds in the 60s this season, and his 22-under total is the fourth best mark by a winner this season.

Best score in relation to par by a PGA Tour winner in 2013-14

 Player To par Tournament win 
 Patrick Reed -28  Humana Challenge 
 Webb Simpson  -24  Shriners Las Vegas 
 Dustin Johnson -24  WGC-HSBC Champions
 Brian Harman  -22  John Deere Classic
 Harris English -21  OHL Mayakoba Classic
 Chesson Hadley -21  Puerto Rico Open 

Harmon won by utilizing his approach shots to great advantage. He tied for the tournament lead by hitting 63 greens in regulation, and he was second in approach shot distance to pin, hitting his approaches to within 23 feet, 3 inches of the hole. For the week he hit 19 approach shots to within 10 feet of the hole. He was 12 under on those 19 holes.

Approach shot distance to pin leaders at the John Deere Classic

 Player Approach distance Subpar holes Finish 
 Tim Clark 21 ft., 10 in. 24 T-5 
 Brian Harman  23 ft., 3 in. 25  Won 
 Bo Van Pelt  24 ft., 9 in.  22  T-7 
 Zach Johnson  25 ft., 7 in. 25 
 Johnson Wagner  26 ft., 2 in. 16  T-7 

The victory secured Harman the final spot in the British Open. If year’s past are an indication, the Deere winner should make the cut at Royal Liverpool. The Deere has been held prior to the Open Championship since 2004, and no Deere winner who played in the year’s third major has missed the cut.

John Deere Classic winner at the British Open

 Year Player  Open finish 
 2013  Jordan Spieth  T-44
 2012  Zach Johnson T-9
 2011  Steve Stricker T-12 
 2010  Steve Stricker  T-55 
 2009  Steve Stricker T-52 
 2008  Kenny Perry  Did not play 
 2007   Jonathan Byrd T-23 
 2006  John Senden T-35 
 2005  Sean O’Hair T-15 
 2004  Mark Hensby Did not play

Harman’s win was notable because he missed the cut at the Deere in 2013. In fact he improved his scoring average by a whopping seven strokes from last year, going from 72.5 in 2013 to 66.5 this past weekend. He’s the first player to win the tournament after missing the cut the previous season since J.L. Lewis in 1998 and 1999. The victory was also notable because of who Harman beat. He was paired in the final round with Steve Stricker, a three-time Deere winner, and after Stricker stumbled to an unlikely 72, Harman held off Zach Johnson for the victory. Johnson has now finished second here three times in the last six years, with a win and a T-3 thrown in for good measure. He shot four rounds in the 60s again last week, giving him 24 straight rounds in the 60 at TPC Deere Run.

Zach Johnson at the John Deere Classic: 2009-2014

 Year Finish  Scores To par  Earnings 
 2014   63-67-69-64—263 -21  $507,600 
 2013  T-2  64-66-67-68—265  -19  404,800
 2012  Won  68-65-66-65—264 -20  828,000
 2011  T-3  66-69-67-65—267 -17  261,000
 2010  T-21  67-69-69-68—273  -11  36,418
 2009 T-2  69-68-64-66—267 -17  321,066

Johnson is 105 under par at the tournament in the last six years with a scoring average of 66.62. Johnson lost by three strokes to Steve Stricker in 2009 and in a playoff to Jordan Spieth in 2013.

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