John Deere Classic canceled; its 50th anniversary is moved to 2021
Illinois won’t have its longest-standing PGA Tour stop this year. The John Deere Classic was cancelled on Thursday.
The JDC, the only PGA Tour event held annually in the state, was to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a July 6-12 playing of the $6.2 million championship at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis. It was to be the first PGA Tour event to allow spectators since tournament play was stopped on March 12 after the first round of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra, FL.
Tournament play will resume on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, Tex.
Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic had led to the immediate cancellations of the next six tournaments on the schedule after The Players. The Charles Schwab Challenge was moved from May 21-24 dates to become the first event after the PGA Tour re-opened its tournament schedule.
“Because of the ongoing health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic the difficult decision was made to cancel,’’ said Clair Peterson, the JDC tournament director. “While we considered several alternatives, this was the choice that made the most sense for our guests, the players and the Quad City community at large.’’
“We know this announcement will come as a disappointment to the Quad City area and to the broader golf community,’’ said Mara Downing, John Deere’s vice president of global brand and communications.
She said the tourney’s 50th anniversary will be celebrated in 2021.
The JDC has proven a successful fundraiser with its Birdies for Charity program that has benefitted a variety of organizations in the area. Last year’s tournament raised $13.8 million for 543 local and regional charities. That brought the tourney’s all-time total to $120 million since its first playing in 1971.
Ninety-one percent of the charity money raised has come since John Deere assumed title sponsorship of the event in 1998. Peterson said the participating organizations will receive a five percent bonus over what they raised for this year’s event.
“Thanks to John Deere’s ongoing support, we are able to promise a bonus, even though we are not having the tournament,’’ Peterson said.
One PGA Tour event in Illinois, the BMW Championship, remains on the schedule. The FedEx Cup Playoff event will be played at Olympia Fields Country Club in the south suburbs from Aug. 27-30.
The JDC cancellation was the first since PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced a greatly revised schedule to finish out 2020.
The RBC Heritage Classic, in Hilton Head, S.C., had been scheduled for April 16-19 – the week after the Masters. Now it’ll be the second tournament after the re-opening. It’ll be followed by the Travelers tourney in Hartford, Ct., and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. Those are the tournaments that would have led into the JDC. All will be played without spectators.
Now the Memorial tournament, on July 16-19 at Ohio’s Muirfield Village course, figures to be the first PGA Tour event to welcome spectators since the pandemic began. The Memorial also was postponed earlier but it was moved into the July dates after the British Open was cancelled.
The PGA Tour’s alternate circuit, the Korn Ferry Tour, will also re-open play on June 11 on the Dye Course in Ponte Vedra, FL. That tour has two Illinois tournaments – the Lincoln Land Classic, at Panther Creek in Springfield, on Sept. 3-6 and the Evans Scholars Invitational at a Chicago area course still to be determined the following week.
Lincoln Land had been scheduled in July. The Evans Scholars event, put on by the Western Golf Association, was originally May 21-24 at The Glen Club, in Glenview, before being postponed. The Glen Club had schedule conflicts with the September dates, forcing the tourney to find a new home course.