SILVIS, Illinois The John Deere Classic continues to attract a solid field of players for this year's tournament, recently receiving commitments from such well-known PGA Tour veterans as Chris DiMarco, Brett Wetterich, Carl Petterson, Peter Lonard, and Heath Slocum.
In addition, John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson said a number of players ranked among the top 40 on the 2008 PGA Tour money list (as of May 18) have committed to play, including Jeff Quinney, Ryuji Imada, Briny Baird, and Brian Gay.
"We are really pleased with the way the John Deere Classic field is shaping up so far this year," Peterson said. "We already have commitments from several former major champions, a group of former Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team members, four 2008 champions, and nine players ranked among the top 40 on this year's PGA Tour money list.
"We are fortunate to have some 'name' veteran players as well as a solid core of young players who are forging their identities on the PGA Tour," Peterson said. "And it's only May 19th. We anticipate being able to announce more good news as we get closer to the tournament."
This year's John Deere Classic is set for July 7-13 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis. The four-day, 72-hole competition will feature 156 players, including defending champion Jonathan Byrd.
A number of players have indicated that the tournament's decision to charter a first-class jet directly from the Quad City International Airport to Manchester, England, site of this year's British Open, helped them decide to play in the John Deere Classic.
Peterson today also announced four sponsor exemptions - two amateurs, two pros, all young. They are Jamie Lovemark, a USC junior; Philip Francis, a sophomore at UCLA; Jason Knutzen, a former Iowa State Cyclone who now plays the Asian Tour, and Brady Schnell, the former Quad Citian who made the cut in last year's event and currently is playing on the mini-tour circuit.
A three-time PGA Tour winner, DiMarco is best known for his participation on two Presidents' Cup teams (2003 and 2005) and two Ryder Cup teams (2004 and 2006). He also finished second in three major championships between 2004 and 2006 - the 2004 PGA Championship (losing in a playoff to Vijay Singh), the 2005 Masters (winner, Tiger Woods), and the 2006 British Open (winner, Tiger Woods).
Wetterich played on the 2006 Ryder Cup teams after winning the Byron Nelson Classic earlier that year in Houston. In 2007, he had four top 10 finishes, including runner up to Tiger Woods at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral and to Phil Mickelson at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He finished 28th on last year's money list with more than $2.2 million in official earnings.
After a career year in 2006 in which he won the Memorial Tournament, Petterson finished 34th on the money list in 2007 when he posted six top 10s, including a fifth place finish at the John Deere Classic. This year, the native Swede has seven top 25 finishes, including top 10s at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the EDS Byron Nelson.
Lonard is an able member of the PGA Tour's Australian invasion with a total of 10 victories all over the world, including the PGA Tour's 2005 MCI Heritage at Hilton Head. He posted three tops 10s in 2007 and finished in the top 125 on the money list for the sixth consecutive year.
Slocum's best finish so far this year was a tie for fifth at the Wachovia Championship. The two-time Tour winner had his most consistent year on Tour in 2007, finishing 30th on the money list with 16 top 25 finishes in 22 cuts made. Slocum played was on the golf team at Milton High School in northern Florida with fellow Tour members Bubba Watson and Boo Weekley, both of whom are expected to play at this year's John Deere Classic.
Quinney and Baird moved up the money list this season with their performances at this year's Players Championship, where they finished third and fourth, respectively. Quinney was 13th as of Saturday (May 17) and Baird was 33rd.
Already announced as playing in the tournament are five former major champions, including local heroes Zach Johnson and Todd Hamilton - winners of the Masters and British Open, respectively - as well as Tom Lehman (British Open), Shaun Micheel (PGA Championship), and Rich Beem (PGA Championship). David Duval, winner of the 2001 British Open, will make the John Deere Classic a part of his comeback bid.
Also committed are U.S. team stalwarts Woody Austin (Presidents Cup 2007), Lucas Glover (Presidents Cup 2007), Jerry Kelly (Presidents Cup 2003), and Kenny Perry (Presidents Cup '96, '03, '05 and the '04 Ryder Cup).
2008 PGA Tour winners include 2005 John Deere Classic champion Sean O'Hair (Pods Championship in Tampa Bay), J.B. Holmes (FBR Open in Phoenix), D.J. Trahan (Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs), Johnson Wagner (Shell Houston Open), and Boo Weekley (Verizon Heritage). In addition, up and- comers Jason Gore, and Pat Perez figure to join the fray.
Former John Deere Classic champions J.L. Lewis (1999), J.P. Hayes (2002), Mark Hensby (2004), and John Senden (2006) will join O'Hair in the field. South Africa's Tim Clark and Nathan Green, who contended until the final holes last year also have committed.
The PGA Tour began its run in the Quad Cities in 1971. John Deere, whose world headquarters is located in Moline, IL, assumed title sponsorship of the tournament in 1998. The tournament moved to TPC Deere Run in 2000.
Information about tickets and corporate hospitality is available at www.johndeereclassic.com or by calling toll free 1-800-336-4655.
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 $24.6 million for charity.