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Tom Jacobs is back with another First Round Leader preview, and with Rory McIlroy finishing T1 last week, it feels like another outright win in this market is close! Find out who we are backing in the First Round Leader market, at the John Deere Classic.

John Deere Classic First Round Leader Picks and Predictions: Back Charles Howell For a Fast Start

The John Deere Classic has been a staple on the PGA Tour since the 1970's and has been hosted by TPC Deere Run since 2000, so there is a lot of data to go by this week!

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John Deere Classic First Round Leader Strategy

The weather and AM/PM split are not of concern to me at this stage, as there doesn't appear to be an advantage either historically when it comes to tee times, or with the weather this week.

To get an idea of who has led here in the past, what score it might take and more, here are the last 10 First Round Leaders here at the John Deere Classic.

  • 2021 - Chesson Hadley and Sebastian Munoz - 63 (-8) - Both PM starts
  • 2019 - Roberto Diaz - 62 (-9) - PM start
  • 2018 - Steve Wheatcroft - 62 (-9) - AM start
  • 2017 - Charles Howell III and Ollie Schniederjans - 63 (-8) - AM/PM split
  • 2016 - Andrew Loupe and Tom Gillis - 64 (-7) - Both PM starts
  • 2015 - Justin Thomas and Nicholas Thompson - 63 (-8) - AM/PM split
  • 2014 - Brian Harman, Rory Sabbatini, Zach Johnson - 64 (-7) - All AM starts
  • 2013 - Camilo Villegas and Zach Johnson - 64 (-7) - Both AM starts
  • 2012 - Troy Matteson - 61 (-10) - PM start
  • 2011 - Kris Blanks - 63 (-8) - PM start

Who in This Field Has Started Fastest on Tour This Season?

Here are the 10 fastest starters in the field based on the current Round 1 Scoring Average in the 2021/22 PGA Tour season.

  • William McGirt - (10th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 68.85) - Low Opening Round - 66 (Three times)
  • Jonathan Byrd - (14th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.00) - Low Opening Round - 64 (RSM and Mexico Championship)
  • Webb Simpson - (14th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.00) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Travelers)
  • Patton Kizzire - (23rd overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.23) - Low Opening Round - 63 (Sony Open)
  • Denny McCarthy - (32nd overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.39) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Wells Fargo)
  • Charles Howell III - (33rd overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.40) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Travelers)
  • Adam Long - (40th overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.52) - Low Opening Round - 66 (Three times)
  • Rory Sabbatini - (41st overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.57) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Shriners and Honda)
  • Bill Haas - (43rd overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.63) - Low Opening Round - 65 (Mayakoba and RSM)
  • Sahith Theegala - (43rd overall in 2021/22 - Scoring Average 69.63) - Low Opening Round - 64 (Sanderson Farms)

What Score Is Required To Lead After Round 1?

The average leading score here after Round 1, over the past 10 renewals, currently sits at 62.8, which I am happy to round up to 63 for our target! This score has been low enough to pay off in 7 of the past 10 renewals, with 62 twice being the required score, and 61 being the Thursday target once.

The Favorites in This Week's First Round Leader Market

Adam Hadwin +3300

Adam Hadwin has been within two of the first round lead 27 times in his career, including five times since the 2021 Wyndham Championship alone.

The most recent came at the U.S. Open where he led by one shot after firing an opening 66. He also co-led after day one at the Valspar Championship, as he opened with a 64. These were his first two first round leads on the PGA Tour, but he had history on both the Canadian and Korn Ferry Tour's where he led after round 1 a further two times.

In two starts here, Adam Hadwin has finished 18th and 8th, but his best two individual rounds have both come on Sunday where he has shot rounds of 64 and 65.

He could easily start fast here, and if you liked him outright, I would back him here.

Webb Simpson +3500

42 times in his career, Webb Simpson has been within two of the first round leads and two of those have come in recent starts. He shot a 64 to open the Travelers last week, and was two back at Thursday-end and his opening round 66 saw him lead the Charles Schwab.

That Charles Schwab lead was the 13th lead or co-lead of his career, and if you expect him to win this week, backing him to start fast seems the play as well, at over double his outright price.

He has played here three times, with a best finish of 21st and his most recent start here he opened 67-66, so he can go low enough to contend in this market.

Denny McCarthy +4000

In three starts at this golf course, Denny McCarthy has missed two cuts, but in his first start he finished 34th and opened with a round of 65 to sit 7th and also shot a 3rd round 66. In his second start, he opened with a 66 before missing the cut, so he looks capable of going low here.

10 times in his career, Denny McCarthy has started the week within two of the opening-day lead, and his only first round lead of his career came at the Byron Nelson, and I like Texas form as a pointer.

McCarthy also started the Charles Schwab with a 68 earlier this year, to start the week two behind, and that is a comp course I like.

Sahith Theegala +4000

Sahith Theegala hasn't been around for long, but just this season he has already led the Sanderson Farms Championship after round 1, and also been within one of the opening-day lead at the Phoenix Open, Mexico Open and the Memorial.

If you like Theegala to win this week, you should back him in this market as well, as he loves a fast start.

First Round Leader Selections

Charles Howell +5000

Charles Howell is back to playing the solid golf he has built the foundations of his career on, and while he isn't having the outright finishes he's had in the past, he seems to be finding consistency once more.

Howell has only ever missed two cuts here, and has six top-25's, including two top-6's, so this is his arena.

56 times in his career Howell has been within two of the first round lead, and on 10 occasions he has led or co-led going into Friday.

One of those leads came here, when opening with a 63 in 2017 and with 9 rounds of 66 or better to his name here, including opening rounds of 63 to lead and 64 to sit one back in 2015, he's clearly capable of leading on Thursday here.

Howell was 2 back on day one at the Travelers last week, as he opened with a 64 and was in the same spot when he opened with a 66 in Mexico back in May. A couple of shots lower this week, and he can post that first Thursday lead since the 2018 RSM Classic, which he won.

Charles Howell will tee off #1 tee at 12:54 pm with Brandy Snedeker and Sahith Theegala. Scott Stallings +5000

28 times in his career, Scott Stallings has been within two of the opening-day lead, and five of those have come in this season alone, so it feels like he's reinvented himself as a fast starter.

You have to go back to the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic for the last time he held a first round lead, but he has had multiple opportunities this season already.

In nine starts at this course, Stallings has made five cuts, and finished inside the top-25 on four of those occasions, including when 5th in 2017, where he was 2nd after 54 holes.

Stallings shot two rounds of 64 here in 2017, and the way he is hitting the ball this season, he's a leading candidate in both the outright and first round leader market, and I certainly expect him to start fast.

Scott Stallings will tee off #1 tee at 7:07 am with Adam Schenk and Chesson Hadley.

J.T. Poston +6600

14 times in his career, J.T. Poston has been within two of the first round lead, including last week at the Travelers when he shared the first-day lead with Rory McIlroy after firing a 62.

Poston also closed with a 64 last week, and has been waxing lyrical about his game, so I think he can have a good week, and definitely at least one hot round.

Poston has held four leads or co-leads in his career already, and that is a good sign for a player of his stature, so he can definitely hit the mark in this one.

Last week he ranked 2nd in SG Approach, with the best iron play on day one, and 7th in both the weekend rounds, so he can come and do the same here.

His record at this course is poor, but I think his recent play can overcome that.

J.T Poston will tee off #1 tee at 7:29 am with Chad Ramey and Ryan Brehm

Bill Haas +13000

Bill Haas' course record isn't the best here, making just 2 of his 7 cuts here, but when he has made the weekend, he has finished 17th and 10th.

In a micro sense, back in 2019, Haas shot a third-round 64 here and he's also posted multiple rounds of 67 when he's missed the cut, and a 66 as well here.

Haas has quietly played some consistent golf of late, making 10 of his last 12 cuts, and he is hitting the ball well again.

Last week at the Travelers he had a poor iron week on day one, ranking 129th, but in the next three rounds he ranked 2nd, 11th and 12th and ended the week 11th in the field overall with his irons.

In this field, Bill Haas is one of the top-10 fastest starters on Tour this season, and he can run hot for one round.

26 times in his career Haas has been within two of the first round lead, and he has converted 9 of those into first round leads. The most recent came in 2018, so it is fair to say he is due.

Bill Haas will tee off #1 tee at 6:56 am with Fabian Gomez and Matt Every

Article Author


Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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