STRONG GROUP OF TOURNAMENT WINNERS TO CHALLENGE STRICKER
More than 20 recent PGA Tour winners, including eight from this season, will try to foil two-time defending champion Steve Stricker's attempt to win an historic three straight at this year's $4.5 million John Deere Classic, July 4-10, at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
The current-year champions who have committed to date are former John Deere Classic champion Jonathan Byrd (2007), two-time winner Mark Wilson, Jhonny Vegas, D.A. Points, Johnson Wagner, Michael Bradley, Brendan Steele, and Keegan Bradley.
Among committed players who have won a tournament in the last two years are Jerry Kelly, Rocco Mediate, John Rollins, Bo Van Pelt, Heath Slocum, and former John Deere Classic champion Kenny Perry (2008).
"We're pleased and excited to have such a solid group of current champions committed to play so early in the process," said John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson. "Players have until 5 o'clock Friday before the tournament to commit, so we expect to add other top name players as tournament week draws closer."
Up-and-coming 23-year-old Australian sensation Jason Day, who tied for second this year at The Masters, also has committed. Day was 18 years old and playing on a sponsor exemption when made the cut at the 2006 John Deere Classic, his first tournament of any kind in the U.S.
A number of British Open-qualified players have committed and likely will be boarding the tournament's non-stop Sunday evening charter to Royal St. George's. Among them are Stricker, Byrd, Kelly, former Masters champion and Cedar Rapids (Ia.) native Zach Johnson, Bo Van Pelt, and former British Open champions Todd Hamilton and John Daly. Other recent Open qualifiers include Brian Davis, Bob Estes, Nathan Green, Spencer Levin, and Chris Tidland.
Stricker, who last year obliterated the tournament's previous 72-hole scoring record by four shots, will return to TPC Deere Run this year attempting to be the first player in tournament history to win it three times in a row. The last PGA Tour player to win the same tournament three times consecutively was Tiger Woods from 2005-07 at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Also returning will be veteran Paul Goydos, who finished second to Stricker last year after shooting a 12-under par 59 in his opening round. At the time, Goydos was one of only four players in PGA Tour history to have shot 59 in an official event.
Other former major champions in the field include Rich Beem (2002 PGA Championship), Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA), and Mike Weir of Canada (2002 Masters).
In addition to Byrd and Perry, past John Deere Classic champions in the field are John Senden (2006), Mark Hensby (2004), and J.P. Hayes (2002).
A number of former Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup players who have committed are Scott Verplank, Boo Weekley, Brett Wetterich, Chris Riley, Vaughn Taylor, and Chris DiMarco.
Tickets for the John Deere Classic are available athttp://www.johndeereclassic.com/or by calling 309-762-4653.
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 and is committed through 2016.The tournament moved to TPC Deere Run in 2000.
The tournament helped raise $4.34 million for 500 charities in 2010, ranking it first among regular PGA TOUR events in per capita contributions at $11.57 for each of the 375,000 residents of the Quad City area and eighth overall on the PGA TOUR.
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, Ill. Since its founding in 1971, the tournament has helped raise $37.94 million for charity.