Photo courtesy of the John Deere Classic
Former Illini Star Dylan Meyer Receives Sponsor Exemption
Molinari, Niemann Bring International Flavor
MOLINE, Illinois (June 19, 2018) – With defending champion Bryson DeChambeau as the focus, this year’s John Deere Classic field will feature current and future Hall of Famers, up-and-coming stars, past champions and fan favorites.
DeChambeau, winner of Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament earlier this month, will be joined by such major champions as Zach Johnson, Davis Love III, Angel Cabrera, and Geoff Ogilvy along with three-peat John Deere Classic winner Steve Stricker.
Tournament officials announced Tuesday that Stricker’s fellow Illinois alumnus Dylan Meyer has been awarded a sponsor exemption, his second in as many years. Meyer and Stricker finished T-20 Sunday at the U.S. Open in Meyer’s debut as a professional.
The tournament’s purse will be $5.8 million with $1.044 million for the champion. The final exemption to the British Open also is on the line, with the highest finisher among the top five who is not otherwise qualified receiving the invitation. Players will be traveling to Carnoustie on a private charter.
“The John Deere Classic is looking forward to welcoming a field full of the world’s great golfers to the Quad Cities and to TPC Deere Run, one of the finest courses on the PGA TOUR,” said tournament director Clair Peterson. “Every year, the combination of outstanding players and a golf course design that puts a premium on strategy and execution produce excitement that thrills our fans here and those watching on TV. Having the last British Open exemption on the line only adds to the drama.”
Past champions including Ryan Moore (2016), Jonathan Byrd (2007), John Senden (2006), and Sean O’Hair (2005) have committed as have more than 20 players who have won tournaments in the last two years. They include Daniel Berger, Wesley Bryan, Patton Kizzire, Andrew Landry, Kyle Stanley and Aaron Wise. Wise and Stanley both received early-career sponsor exemptions to the Deere, in 2009 and 2016, respectively.
Brandt Snedeker, an eight-time PGA TOUR winner and two-time Ryder Cup team member, who finished T-2 the last time he played at Deere Run in 2009, is back in the field this year.
Adding to the tournament’s international flavor are Italy’s Francesco Molinari and 19- year-old Chilean phenom Joaquin Niemann, who is on track to earn full PGA TOUR status bypassing the typical Web.com Tour path as few are able to.
Molinari, 35, won this year’s prestigious BMW PGA Championship, finished T-25 at the U.S. Open, and was runner-up at last year’s PGA Championship. The two-time Ryder Cup team member currently stands fourth in the European Ryder Cup points race.
Several other Tour veterans have committed, including last year’s runner up Patrick Rodgers, Charles Howell III, Danny Lee, Kevin Na, Kevin Streelman (of Chicago’s western suburbs), and Nick Watney.
The tournament also announced it has awarded sponsor exemptions to Tour veterans Jason Bohn and Carl Pettersson as well as to up-and-comer Dru Love, former Alabama player and son of Davis Love III.
A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Davis Love III, 54, is a 21-time winner on the PGA TOUR and a two-time Ryder Cup captain (2012, 2016). He won the 1997 PGA Championship and the Players Championship in 1992 and 2003. He has been host of the RSM Classic in his home of Sea Island, Georgia since 2010.
Johnson, 41, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa native, has played in every John Deere Classic since 2002. His 12 Tour victories include the 2007 Masters, the 2015 British Open, and the 2012 John Deere Classic, which he regards as his “fifth major.” Last week, Johnson finished T-12 at the U.S. Open.
Stricker, 51, dominated the John Deere Classic from 2009-11, winning three times in a row. In the following three years, he finished T-5, T-10 and T-11. This year, Stricker has had three top 20 finishes on the PGA TOUR and has two wins on PGA Tour Champions. This week, he is hosting the Champions Tour’s American Family Insurance event in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.
Last month, the John Deere Classic announced four well-received sponsor exemptions for recent college stars Doug Ghim of Buffalo Grove, Illinois; Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Illinois; Norman Xiong of LaCanada, California, and Broc Everett of Des Moines.
The John Deere Classic, which includes Birdies for Charity, is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization located in the John Deere Classic tournament offices at 15623 Coaltown Road, East Moline, Illinois. Since its founding in 1971, the tournament has helped raise $93.6 million for charity.