Most of the checks will be mailed tomorrow (Oct. 30) to participating charities, but about 20 were to be hand-delivered today by members of the John Deere Classic Board of Directors.
This is the third consecutive year the charity total has exceeded $4 million and the third straight year charity donations have exceeded the tournament purse ($4.3 million in 2009).
"Every year, we recognize the generosity of the people and businesses of the Quad Cities, and this year is no exception," said Clair Peterson, tournament director of the John Deere Classic. "This year's charity total is all the more remarkable because it was achieved during difficult economic circumstances. On behalf of the John Deere Classic Birdies for Charity program, the tournament's board of directors, John Deere, and 500-plus charities, I just want to thank to everyone who donated."
The $4.63million total translates to a per-capita contribution of $12.27 for every person living the Quad Cities based on a population of 375,000. It makes the John Deere Classic one of only a handful of PGA Tour events to exceed $4 million in charity contributions and easily makes it the No. 1-ranked tournament for per-capita giving among regular PGA Tour events. Overall, the John Deere Classic ranks sixth on TOUR in total charity dollars.
Peterson noted that several local foundations and major donors stepped up this year and contributed directly to the tournament's bonus fund to help make up for a shortfall of sponsorships resulting from the effects of the ongoing economic recession. Those major donors are: The Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, Bechtel Foundation, River Boat Authority, Jay& Collette Vonderhaar Family Foundation, Hunt & Diane Harris Charitable Foundation, Tom & Deann Thoms Family Foundation, Stuart & Mary Thoms Family Foundation, U.S. Bank, and THE National Bank.
"The donations are important because they enable participating charities to continue the vital work they do in their communities," Peterson said. "The major donors enabled us to provide more bonus money than we originally had planned for (six percent instead of five)."
In addition, a group of local Chevy dealers provided contestants with some 200 courtesy cars, resulting in significant cost savings for the tournament.
Peterson praised tournament sponsor John Deere for underwriting the administrative costs of the Birdies for Charity Program, which enables 100 percent of Birdies pledges to go to charity.
Under the Birdies program, donors typically pledge one cent for each birdie recorded during the tournament. In 2009, 1,914 birdies were recorded, meaning many donors wrote a check for $19.14 for the charity or charities to which they pledged. Many donors pledge to more than one charity. Others make lump sum pledges.
In addition to receiving 100 percent of the Birdies pledges collected on their behalf, charities each received a six percent bonus from the tournament this year.
The 2009 charity total of $4.63 million was down from $4.79 million a year earlier. Contributions were generated by a combination of tournament revenues, direct donations, and the Birdies for Charity program.
"The PGA TOUR would like to congratulate the John Deere Classic on this remarkable charitable achievement," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "Everyone associated with the event, including Deere & Company and other corporate sponsors, tournament staff and volunteers, and the countless fans who supported the tournament should take a great deal of pride in raising this very significant sum for those in need throughout the Quad Cities. The John Deere Classic has truly taken a leadership position in supporting the TOUR's mission of giving back in communities in which we play."
PGA Tour veteran Steve Stricker won the 2009 John Deere Classic at Tournament Players Club Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. with a score of 20-under par 264 on rounds of 71-61-68-64. It was the sixth PGA Tour victory for the 42-year-old Wisconsin resident and Illinois alumnus, who later went on to star at the President's Cup.
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 1993, the tournament has helped raise $28 million for charity.