EAST MOLINE, Illinois The John Deere Classic on Friday added quality and depth to an already strong field.
The tournament announced the additions of Woody Austin, Aaron Baddeley, Matt Kuchar, Steve Marino, Brant Snedeker, and Scott Verplank to a field already viewed as the strongest since the year 2000 when the now-39-year-old tournament moved to TPC Deere Run.
"This is, without a doubt, the strongest field we've had since the tournament moved to TPC Deere Run," said John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson. "We're very gratified that players are recognizing the quality of our golf course, our sponsor, and the first-class manner in which the tournament is run."
Tournament week kicks off Monday, July 6, with a pro-am and practice rounds at TPC Deere Run. Tournament rounds start Thursday, July 9 and conclude on Sunday.
A model of consistency, Austin, 45, will be making his 14th consecutive appearance in the Quad Cities, where he has been coming annually since 1996. Last year, he finished T-9, his best finish ever at a tournament in which he's been in the money 11 of 14 times. Austin has made 13 of 15 cuts this season with two top 10s and five top 25s.
Baddeley, 28, who tied for 29th at last year's John Deere Classic, has made 10 of 14 cuts this year and has four top 25 finishes, including a tie for ninth at The Players Championship and a tie for 17th at The Masters. He stands 94th on the FedEx Cup points list.
Kuchar, 31, will be playing in his sixth John Deere Classic. This season, he has made 12 of 15 cuts with two top 10 finishes and six top 25s, including a T-5 at The Memorial, a T-6 at Phoenix, and a T-14 at The Players. Kuchar is eligible for this year's British Open at Turnberry.
Marino, 29, played in his first John Deere Classic last year and tied for 41st. This season, his third on the regular PGA Tour, he has made 13 of 18 cuts with three top 10 finishes and nine top 25s. He finished second the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial earlier this year and was fifth at New Orleans' Zurich Classic.
Snedeker, 28, has made four cuts in 13 events so far this year and finished in the top 25 once. The 28-year-old Nationwide Tour graduate from Nashville had a break out year in 2008, finishing third at The Masters and T-9 at the 2008 U.S. Open. At his only previous appearance at the John Deere Classic, in 2007, Snedeker finished in a tie for 32nd.
A five-time winner on the PGA Tour and a veteran of two Ryder Cup and two Presidents Cup teams, Verplank will celebrate his 45th birthday on Thursday of tournament week (July 9). He began playing in the Quad Cities in 1987 but his only previous appearance at TPC Deere Run came in 2000 shortly after the course opened. This year, Verplank has made 12 of 15 possible cuts with two top 10s and six top 25s. He finished T-9 last week at The Travelers and earlier in the season was T-4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando.
As of Friday evening, the field included 22 players eligible for the following week's British Open. Those players will travel via the tournament's charter jet, which will leave Quad City International Airport on Sunday evening and land in Prestwick, Scotland on Monday morning. More players could be added as more qualify for the British Open. The highest finisher at the John Deere Classic who is not otherwise exempt for the British Open will earn a spot.
The field is headlined by defending champion Kenny Perry, who has two victories on Tour this year along with his exciting runner-up finish at The Masters; U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and U.S. Open runners up David Duval and Ricky Barnes; Perry's fellow Masters runner up Chad Campbell; former Masters champion and local hero Zach Johnson of Cedar Rapids, Ia.; former British Open champion and Oquawka, Ill. native Todd Hamilton, and Wisconsin's Steve Stricker, the No. 7-ranked player in the world.
The field also includes former major champions such as Mark Calcavecchia, Davis Love III, David Toms, Tom Lehman, Steve Elkington, Shaun Micheel, Bob Tway, and Rich Beem. Toms won his first PGA Tour event in the Quad Cities in 1997.
The tournament also has several players with Illinois ties, including Mark Wilson, who lives in a Chicago suburb; Kevin Streelman, who grew up in the western suburbs, and D.A. Points, a native of Pekin, Ill., who, like Stricker, attended Illinois.
This year's event also features a stellar list of young up-and-coming sponsor exempt players, including Ben Hogan Award winner Kyle Stanley of Clemson, who recently turned pro; All American and Big East Player of the Year Mike Van Sickle of Marquette, a prospective Walker Cup team member; two-time All-American Zack Sucher of Alabama-Birmingham, also a potential Walker Cupper; 2008 U.S. Public Links champion and Masters contestant Jack Newman of Des Moines, and local mini-tour player and Nebraska graduate Brady Schnell, who made the cut last year and recently earned medalist honors at the Canadian Tour qualifying school.
The PGA Tour began its run in the Quad Cities in 1971.John Deere, whose world headquarters is in Moline, Ill., assumed title sponsorship of the tournament in 1998.The tournament moved to TPC Deere Run in 2000.
The tournament helped raise $4.79 million for 500 charities in 2008, ranking it sixth on the PGA Tour overall and first in per capita contributions at $12.77 for each of the 375,000 residents of the Quad City area.
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, Illinios. Since its founding in 1971, the tournament has helped raise $29 million for charity.