INTERNATIONALS FLAVOR the 2014 JOHN DEERE CLASSIC
Though universally regarded as the PGA TOUR's quintessential summertime Midwestern event, this year's John Deere Classic features an international field sure to give both the leaderboard and locker room a cosmopolitan accent.
This year, 34 players from 14 countries and six continents will be among the 156-man field that will tee it up the week of July 7-13 at TPC Deere Run in the 44th edition of the $4.7 million Quad Cities-based tournament. Last year's PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, Jordan Spieth - who hails from Texas - is defending champion.
"Players from all over the world are eager to have an opportunity to compete on the PGA TOUR, and our fans welcome the chance to see them on the world class stage provided by TPC Deere Run," said John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson.
Nearly 80 percent of the field consists of American-born players, including such past champions and fan favorites as Steve Stricker (2009-11) and Zach Johnson (2012). They along with Chicago-area native and recent winner Kevin Streelman, Kevin Na, Ryan Moore, Chris Kirk and Harris English are among the Top 50-ranked Americans in the field, which consists of 29 recent tournament winners.
As is traditionally the case, the non-U.S. country with the most players is Australia with six. They include 2006 John Deere Classic champion John Senden, who earlier this season notched his second Tour victory at Tampa Bay; Steven Bowditch, winner of this year's Valero Texas Open, and Bronson La'Cassie, who received a sponsor exemption here in 2007 after a stellar amateur career.
South Africa has the next highest representation with five players, including two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, former Masters champion Trevor Immelman and former Players champion Tim Clark, who has three top 20 finishes here, including a runner-up in 2007.
Korea's four entries include the popular K.J. Choi, Sang-Moon Bae, D.H. Lee and Charlie Wi, who has contended here in the past.
Three countries have three players in the field: Argentina, Canada and England. Canada's David Hearn lost in a playoff last year to Spieth, and Mike Weir is a former Masters champion. England's Paul Casey will be making his debut here, as he tries to work his way back to elite status after being sidelined by injuries.
Sweden and New Zealand have two players each. New Zealand has Danny Lee, who won both the U.S. Amateur and Western Amateur in 2008 before embarking on his pro career while Sweden has Daniel Chopra and Carl Petterson.
Six countries have one player each: Chile (Benjamin Alvarado), Denmark (Thorbjorn Olesen), Japan (Ryuji Imada), Spain (Gonzalo Fdez-Castano), Venezuela (Jhonattan Vegas) and Zimbabwe (Brendon de Jonge).
The one continent lacking a representative, of course, is Antarctica, where even the most brutal Midwest winter would be balmy by comparison.
Tickets for the John Deere Classic are available at 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. The tournament moved to TPC Deere Run in 2000.
Defending champion, PGA TOUR 2013 Rookie of the Year and Masters runner-up Jordan Spieth will try for his second consecutive victory at the John Deere Classic. This year's tournament is set for July 7-13 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
Now in its 44th year, the tournament generated $6.3 million for its participating charities in 2013, ranking it first among regular PGA TOUR events overall in per capita contributions at $16.08 for each of the 375,000 residents of the Quad City area. The tournament's charity contributions consistently rank among the top five 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, Illinois. Since its founding in 1971, the tournament has helped raise more than $55 million for charity.