Four Young Stars Receive Exemptions to Play in the John Deere Classic

The John Deere Classic today officially announced four more young sponsor exemptions who will play in the tournament, July 5-9, two of whom already have been winners at TPC Deere Run.

“We are very pleased to announce four more outstanding young sponsor exemptions, who we believe deserve an opportunity to compete against the elite golfers participating in the John Deere Classic,” said tournament director Andrew Lehman. “We think our fans will appreciate getting to know them as they begin their journeys on the PGA Tour.”

The players are:

Marcus Byrd, 25, of Washington, D.C., who starred at Middle Tennessee State before turning pro in 2020 and joining the Advocates Professional Golf Association. The native of Cleverly, Maryland has won three APGA Tour events so far this year, including the APGA tournament at TPC Deere Run on May 30. He has played in three PGA Tour events this year, including the Genesis Invitational, the Honda Classic and the Wells Fargo Championship. 

Tommy Kuhl, 23, of nearby Morton, Illinois, who recently completed his fifth year at Illinois, was first team All-Big Ten in 2022 and 2023 and helped lead the Illini to the NCAA Championship, where he finished T-7. He recently played on the victorious U.S. Palmer Cup team going 2-1-1. He finished No. 15 in the PGA Tour University rankings and has been playing on PGA Tour Canada. He will be making his PGA Tour debut at the John Deere Classic.

William Mouw, 22, of Chino, California, who is a three-time All-American from Pepperdine and won the anchor match of his team’s 2021 national championship victory.  A five-time qualifier for the U.S. Amateur, Mouw played on the 2021 U.S. Walker Cup team and was No. 6 in PGA Tour University, giving him conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour. He won the Junior World and 2017 Western Junior Championship.

Ross Steelman, 22, of Columbia, Missouri, led Georgia Tech to the ACC Championship in April and finished T-2 in the NCAA individual championship. Last summer, he was medalist at the Western Amateur and got to the quarterfinals in match play. He finished No. 4 in PGA Tour University, giving him conditional status on the Tour’s developmental tours. At age 12, he won the John Deere Classic Junior Championship at TPC Deere Run, where he’ll be making his PGA Tour debut.

“Providing outstanding young players with an opportunity to perform on a new stage is something the John Deere Classic has embraced over the last two decades,” Lehman said. “It’s a great tradition that we plan to continue.”

Gordon Sargent, 20, who was announced previously as receiving a sponsor exemption, recently finished as low amateur at the U.S. Open.

Since the year 2000, the John Deere Classic has awarded exemptions to such future major champions as Wyndham Clark, Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, Jason Day, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm. Other PGA Tour winners who received exemptions include Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Camilo Villegas, Nick Hardy and Viktor Hovland.

The 52nd edition of the Quad Cities-based PGA Tour event will be conducted July 5-9 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis with J.T. Poston as defending champion. In a wire-to-wire victory, Poston won by three shots in 2022 with a 21-under par total for the 72-hole event. This year’s purse is $7.4 million purse, an increase of $300,000,

The John Deere Classic, which includes Birdies for Charity, is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization located in the tournament offices at 15623 Coaltown Road, East Moline, Illinois.  Founded in 1971, the tournament has raised $159.57 million for charity.