John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson today announced an “All-Midwest” group of players who have received sponsor exemptions to this year’s event, July 8-11, at TPC Deere Run.
“We are proud and excited to award sponsor exemptions to six high-quality players who have Midwestern backgrounds,” Peterson said. “We look forward to welcoming them and their supporters to the tournament this year.”
The contestants played for Illinois, Illinois State, Iowa, Iowa State and Kansas while the sixth grew up in Michigan and played his college golf in Florida. Here are the players:
- Michael Feagles, 23, of Scottsdale, Arizona/graduate, Illinois; ranked 7th in PGA Tour University standings; member of the Forme (Canadian) Tour; finished 4th overall as an individual in the 2021 NCAA Championship and 5th in the Big Ten Championship; helped lead the Illini to the 2021 Big Ten team championship and to the quarterfinals of the NCAA team championship; posted lowest single-season stroke average in school history (70.55; 2020-2021 season); five-time First Team All-Big Ten team; five-time PING All-Midwest Region team.
- Tripp Kinney, 23, of Waukee, Iowa/graduate, Iowa State; ranked 26th on PGA Tour University standings; four-time NCAA Regional qualifier, earning an individual spot in the NCAA’s Stillwater (Oklahoma) Regional (T-12); led his team in stroke average at 72.45, fifth-best in school history; has 12 career top ten performances, tying for ninth in school history; PING All-Central Region in 2019-20; First Team Academic All Big 12; competed in more rounds than any other player in ISU history (165).
- Luke Kluver, 21, of Norfolk, Nebraska/Junior, Kansas - PING Central All-Region Team per Golf Coaches Association of America; first alternate in 2021 U.S. Open sectional qualifying; had four top 20 finishes during spring season for the Jayhawks, including a T-8 in the Lamkin Grip San Diego Classic and a T-9 in the Hawkeye Invitational; First Team Academic All-Big 12; three-time Nebraska high school Class A champion (2017-18-19); played on Nebraska state high school basketball championship team.
- Willie Mack III, 32, of Flint, Michigan/Bethune-Cookman University – finished T-62 last Sunday (June13) at the BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Korn Ferry Tour; won 11 times in college; became a mini-tour legend, winning an estimated 65 times, including on the Florida Professional Golf Tour and the Advocates Professional Tour; earned social media notoriety in 2018 for retrieving his golf clubs from his burning car before it blew up; made his first PGA Tour starts in 2021 at the Genesis Invitational and the Farmers Insurance Open.
- David Perkins, 23, of East Peoria; graduate, Illinois State University; No. 57 on PGA Tour University ranking; member of the Forme (Canadian) Tour; earned an individual spot in the 2021 NCAA Regionals; two-time Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Golfer of the Year; led Redbirds with a 72.4 stroke average in 2021; had three top 10 finishes in seven events in 2021; shot 59 (13-under par) at Pekin Country Club; MVC 1st All-Academic Team.
- Alex Schaake, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska/graduate, Iowa; 13th on PGA Tour University ranking; member of the Forme (Canadian) Tour; two-time Big Ten Golfer of the Year (2019, 2021); 2021 scoring average was 72.1; winner of the 2019 and 2021 Hawkeye Invitational; placed second or better in four of his last five tournaments.
The six are part of a well-established John Deere Classic tradition of using sponsor exemptions to afford playing opportunities to promising young golfers.
“Some 20 years ago, the John Deere Classic adopted a philosophy that we would provide up-and-coming young players with the opportunity to prove themselves against the best in the world and to give our loyal fans a chance to get a look at them early in their careers,” Peterson said. “With players like Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed having gone on to stardom, we think it has worked out well.”
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 more than $133 million for charity.