Qualify for the John Deere Classic: Here’s How!
By Tom Seest
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The John Deere Classic has long been recognized for giving young golfers their start. Payne Stewart, Jordan Spieth, and Bryson DeChambeau all won their inaugural Tour titles at this Quad Cities tournament. While it’s not directly related to a classic Jon Deere Classic, it’s held within a short drive of John Deere headquarters and their museum.
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The John Deere Classic is an annual PGA Tour event held in Quad Cities, Illinois, and Iowa since 1971 and is considered one of the most successful tours worldwide. Played on TPC Deere Run course located in Silvis, Illinois, with a par of 71 and 7,289 yards long length; Golfweek ranks it No.2 out of all Illinois Best Public-Access courses designed by five-time PGA Tour winner D.A. Weibring’s design that opened its doors for public play in 2000 – located on banks of Rock River with rolling hills around its perimeters – make this tournament a success story all its own right!
Deere Classic takes place a week before the British Open, making it difficult to draw top-tier fields. But this tournament has long been known for launching careers of up-and-coming stars and providing an excellent test of golf – Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau have both won for the first time at the Deere Classic!
This year’s John Deere Classic will host 156 players who qualify via either the PGA Tour eligibility criteria or open qualifying. The winning player will take home $1,332,000 and an invitation to compete in the Open Championship, taking place between July 6-9th at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, and broadcast live by Golf Channel Thursday-Friday and CBS Saturday and Sunday.
This week at the John Deere Classic is not as robust as in past years due to many players preparing for two weeks in Europe or opting not to attend altogether. Still, notable names, including Cameron Young – last year’s PGA Tour rookie of the year – can still be found among this field of competitors.
Sepp Straka currently leads the John Deere Classic by three shots over Brendon Todd after shooting a five-under 65 and posting a 5-under total at TPC Deere Run. He becomes only the third golfer ever to finish under par here.
To play professional golf tournaments, one must first qualify. Qualifying requirements vary between tours but generally involve pre-qualifying events and Monday qualifying; to enter these, first, find and compete in pre-qualifying events; top players from this will then advance to Monday qualifiers – giving them the opportunity to secure a PGA Tour card if successful in qualifying for them.
Qualification for the PGA Tour can be challenging, but with hard work and dedication, it can be done. Attending various events throughout the year to build up points and money lists; at season’s end, you must rank amongst the top 125 for both lists in order to maintain your PGA Tour card.
The John Deere Classic is an annual PGA Tour tournament held at TPC Deere Run in Silvis and hosted by the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa. Since 1971, this charity tournament has raised more than $145.5 Million for charities through this annual golf tournament.
In order to participate in the John Deere Classic, you must first be a PGA Tour member and complete 36 holes at four under par or better in total scoring. Following that cut-off point, those remaining will compete on Saturday and Sunday, with the winner taking home over $1.3 Million as their prize!
Jon Rahm did both and is now an official PGA Tour member, but perhaps the most efficient way to secure one is through performing well at one of the PGA Tour qualifying schools (Q School final stages) where finishing in the top ten of each qualifying stage will earn you temporary membership status on the tour.
The PGA Tour is one of the world’s premier golf tours, and qualifying is not easy. Only top players are capable of competing at this level; those unable to qualify may turn to sponsor exemptions or Monday qualifiers to secure spots – building enough FedEx Cup points may help qualify some golfers as members; others might opt to focus on accruing tournaments through sponsor exemptions instead; this was how Jordan Spieth managed to earn his tour card last year without ever entering Q School or Korn Ferry Tour qualifying events!
The United States Golf Association, which manages the Open, offers 24 exemption categories for qualifying. If a golfer meets any of these criteria, they are automatically exempt from having to participate in local or final qualifying. Examples include previous winners of the PGA Championship or major championships during the past five years, as well as top-10 finishers on other professional golf tours.
As well as these exemptions, there are other means of qualifying for the Open. A player who has qualified for either the Masters or US Open in the last five years may earn their place by placing among the top 70 of the PGA Tour Championship. A top-10 finish was once sufficient to guarantee them entry to The Open.
Each year, the USGA holds 95-110 local and final qualifying tournaments for USGA tournaments, taking place across 44 states, England, Japan, and Canada at 109 sites, with 30 of each site advancing to 36-hole final qualifying at four courses such as Woodmont Country Club, Springfield Country Club, Hawks Ridge Golf Club or Tacoma Country and Golf Club – Woodmont is typically host for local qualifying at each site while Tacoma hosts for final stage qualification tournaments.
Each golfer will have one morning and afternoon tee time on each of the first two days in groups of three before playing in two-person groups on days three and four of play based on overall group standing; for day two’s groups will be decided randomly; day three will use overall standing as its criteria, giving lower scorers in each group automatic entry into the Open while top-five scorers at final stage will receive invitations to the event.
If a golfer does not already hold their tour card through money list finishes or invitations to specific events, they can still gain entry by competing in Monday qualifying. While each tour’s process varies slightly, generally, an 18-hole qualifier tournament held the day before an event begins offers places in it for top finishers that start their tournament on Thursday – though winning this qualifier can often result in dismal performances at subsequent tournaments! Even those lucky enough to get through qualify usually struggle when actually competing at a tournament. Monday qualifying can be particularly difficult; those lucky enough to succeed often end up performing poorly on Thursday as the tournament begins! Winning this round is tough; typically, those who win don’t fare as well when actually starting their tournament.
The PGA Tour typically hosts Monday qualifiers for most tournaments, providing four spots to players who qualify through pre-qualifier tournaments held usually the Thursday before. At these pre-qualifier tournaments, an approximate field of 150 golfers competes for four available spots at Monday’s qualifier tournament. A winner could potentially walk away with as much as $1 Million dollars plus an invitation to Masters the following week and other lucrative rewards!
Most Monday qualifiers on the PGA Tour typically have four spots and strive to limit field size to about 75 players. Golfers without status must first compete in a pre-qualifier tournament held the Thursday prior to Monday’s qualifier event; winners of such competition gain entry into one of the PGA Tour’s premier events.
A challenging tournament to win, yet certainly achievable. Even top golfers may find themselves participating in Monday qualifiers – with some even making it into the final stage – though doing so requires both excellent play and some luck.
Winners of PGA Tour Monday qualifiers earn their tour card for one year; some elevated events provide for two. Most golfers who obtain cards do so through an intensive qualifying process that involves Pre-Qualifying, first-stage, and Second-stage qualifying stages.
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