The John Deere Classic’s long tradition of affording playing opportunities to promising young stars continued today as the tournament announced its first four sponsor exemptions for the event, July 9-15, at TPC Deere Run.
“In the past we’ve given sponsor exemptions to some elite young players who have gone on to win major championships, but I don’t think we ever have invited as strong a class as we have this year,” said John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson. “It’s a tradition that the John Deere Classic established many years ago and this year the tradition continues in a big way.”
The group consists of:
- Doug Ghim, Buffalo Grove, Illinois – No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, according to the well-regarded Scratch Players World Amateur Golf Ranking; winner, 2018 Ben Hogan Award; Low Amateur at the 2018 Masters (T-50); runner up at the 2017 U.S. Amateur; four-year starter at Texas; 4-0-0 as a member of the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup team.
- Norman Xiong, Canyon Lake, California – No. 5-ranked amateur in the world, per Scratch Players before turning pro on Wednesday (May 30); winner, 2018 Mickelson Award (Freshman of the Year), playing for Oregon; winner of 7 college events in two years at Oregon and 6 of his last 13; champion & medalist 2017 Western Amateur; 2017 U.S. Walker Cup and Palmer Cup teams; 2nd in medal play 2017 U.S. Amateur.
- Nick Hardy, Northbrook, Illinois – No. 9-ranked amateur in the world, per Scratch Players; T-55, 2017 John Deere Classic; 2-time Big Ten Player of the Year, playing four years at Illinois; 2017 Palmer Cup team member; winner by a record margin, 2016 Illinois Amateur; T-3, 2017 Western Amateur (medal), Sweet 16 qualifier.
- Broc Everett, West Des Moines, Iowa – Winner, 2018 NCAA individual Stroke Play Championship, playing for Augusta University; No. 25-ranked amateur in the world, according to Scratch Players; 2nd at NCAA North Carolina regional; T-13, Mackenzie Tour qualifier (PGA Tour Canada); T-2, 2017 Iowa Amateur; T-18, 2017 Southwestern Amateur; 2016 U.S. Amateur qualifier.
Over the years, a number of John Deere Classic sponsor exemptions have enjoyed success on the PGA TOUR, including 2017 champion Bryson DeChambeau, two-time champion Jordan Spieth (2013, 2015), Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, and Aaron Wise.
“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.”