The John Deere Classic today announced that the top four amateur players in the world prior to their turning professional have received sponsor exemptions to play in this year’s tournament, July 8-14, at TPC Deere Run.
Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Justin Suh were ranked Nos. 1-4 by Scratch Players Amateur Golf Ranking before Suh and Wolff recently turned pro.
The four are members of a long tradition of the John Deere Classic affording playing opportunities to promising young stars. Since the year 2000, John Deere Classic sponsor exemptions include seven major champions, five winners of the John Deere Classic and nine winners of other PGA Tour events.
“Starting 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,” said tournament director Clair Peterson. “With players like Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed having gone on to stardom, we think it has worked out very well for both the players and our fans.”
Here are four of this year’s sponsor invitees:
- Viktor Hovland, 21, of Oslo, Norway/Oklahoma State – No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, according to the Scratch Players World Amateur Golf Ranking; winner, 2019 Ben Hogan Award; qualified, 2019 U.S. Open; Low Amateur, 2019 Masters (T-32); winner, 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year; winner, 2018 U.S. Amateur; led Oklahoma State to 2018 national championship; T-40, 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational (PGA Tour); 2017-18, Arnold Palmer Cup, Team Europe.
- Collin Morikawa, 22, of Canada Flintridge, California/Cal-Berkeley – No. 2-ranked amateur in the world per Scratch Players; T-6, 2019 NCAA Championship; winner, 2019 Pac 12 Championship; 2019 Pac 12 Player of the Year; four-time Ping All-American; two-time Ben Hogan Award finalist; Byron Nelson Award finalist; winner, 2019 Farms Invitational; 64s, 2018 U.S. Amateur; 4th, 2018 Western Amateur medal; 2018, Arnold Palmer Cup team (3/0/1); 2017 Walker Cup team (4/0/0).
- Matthew Wolff, 20, Agoura Hills, California/Oklahoma State – No. 3-ranked amateur in the world per Scratch Players; winner, 2019 NCAA Championship; winner, 2019 Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Award; winner, 2019 Haskins Award; 2018-19, as a sophomore set single season record of six victories at Oklahoma State, also was five-time runner-up; 50th, 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open (PGA Tour); two-time first team All-American; winner, 2018 Phil Mickelson Award for freshman of the year; 2018, Arnold Palmer Cup team.
- Justin Suh, 21, San Jose, California/USC – No. 4-ranked amateur in the world per Scratch Players; four-time All-American; T-4, 2019 NCAA Championship; 2019, two victories and five other top four finishes for USC; 2019, Pac 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year; winner, 2018 Pac 12 Player of the Year; 2018, first team All-American; 2018, five college victories; 2018, Arnold Palmer Cup team; ranked No. 1 by World Amateur Golf Ranking in 2018 and 2019.
“We are thrilled to have such an outstanding group of top young players competing in this year’s John Deere Classic,” Peterson said. “It gives our fans an opportunity to see them up-close and makes it interesting for them to follow the trajectory of their careers.”
Over the years, John Deere Classic sponsor exemptions have enjoyed success on the PGA Tour, including 2017 JDC champion Bryson DeChambeau (2015), two-time JDC champion and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth (2012), 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas (2013), Jon Rahm (2016), 2015 PGA Champion Jason Day (2006), 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed (2012), 2007 Masters and 2015 British Open champion Zach Johnson (2002-03) and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (2008).
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 $107 million for charity.