Young guns listed as pre-tournament favorites at Deere

Golf Channel

Well, that didn't take long.

One week after Matthew Wolff broke through to win the 3M Open in just his third start as a professional, the youth movement has taken center stage at this week's John Deere Classic. The U.S. prelude to The Open doesn't boast much star-power this year, with world No. 55 Charles Howell III the highest-ranked player among the 156 participants.

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It means there's another opportunity for the next generation to shine, with Wolff headlining the list of recent college standouts who will tee it up at TPC Deere Run. And the oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook have taken note accordingly, listing Wolff's former Oklahoma State teammate, Viktor Hovland, as the pre-tournament betting favorite at 18/1 in a relatively wide-open affair while making just his fourth start as a pro.

Hovland has finished T-13 or better in three of his last four starts, including the U.S. Open and last week's inaugural event in Minnesota. But the youth movement extends beyond the former U.S. Amateur champ, with the next three players at 20/1 all 22 years or younger: Chile's Joaquin Niemann, Tour rookie Sungjae Im and last week's runner-up, Collin Morikawa.

Wolff is among a veteran-laden group at 25/1, pitted alongside fellow Tour winners Howell, Daniel Berger, Kevin Streelman and Lucas Glover, as well as former Deere winner Brian Harman and de facto tournament ambassador Zach Johnson.

While defending champ Michael Kim shot 27 under last year en route to an eight-shot victory, he has struggled mightily since and returns to Illinois having missed 17 cuts in a row. Kim is listed at 300/1 to go back-to-back, while sponsor exemption recipient Hosung Choi is 500/1 as he gets set to make his second career PGA Tour start.

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