One more tournament before the British Open, but don’t look too far ahead since this tournament features Jordan Spieth, the number one player in the world with two functioning legs. Pour one out for Rory’s left ankle. It’s the John Deere Classic!
About the Sponsor
Ahh finally an event sponsor that isn’t boring to talk about. If you couldn’t figure out, John Deere was a person who moved to Grand Detour, Illinois and opened a general repair and manufacturing shop. Deere impressively pioneered two changes in the farming industry at the time. First, was his steel plow, which was superior to the iron or wood plows of the time. Second was actually making the plows before people wanted them, instead of the normal “make on purchase” which was common back in the day. From there, Deere and his associates grew and started to make a variety of farm equipment for the people of the midwest, and eventually made enough money to sponsor a PGA Tour event 150 years or so into the future.
Oh, and John Deere is at the forefront of driverless vehicles. Suck it Google, we’re talking driverless tractors!
Even better, apparently John Deere is coming out with pusherless mowers for your lawn!
When you think about it, this really all makes sense. It’s the same technology, but on a slower scale with fewer other drivers on the road. The most impressive thing is how long they’ve been doing this. This article back in 2008 (!) talks about how they use gps to locate and drive the harvester in India. Since then they’ve moved towards using lasers and other, newer technologies to do the positioning. Overall though, this is a really impressive use of technology and I’m very much looking forward to the future of driverless vehicles that do all the work for me so I can go golfing myself instead of mowing the lawn.
And now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder when golf courses will have driverless mowers to take care of the fairways and greens?
About the Tournament
Being the tournament right before a Major is usually alright. The Shell Houston Open does an alright job of it before the Masters, and so does the Whyndam Championship right before the PGA in August. But the JDC has an issue that the major is being played on a different continent. So players who like a tournament before a major like Phil Mickelson usually choose to play over in Europe. Luckily for the JDC, Jordan Spieth had his first Tour victory here back in 2013, so he’s on the hook to play for at least a few more years.
The tournament known as the Quad Cities Open has been around since 1971, with head sponsors including Miller Brewing. I can only imagine how much fun a tournament sponsored by a beer company would be. In 1999, John Deere came on board as the title sponsor, and the event moved to it’s current location of TPC Deere Run in 2000.
About the Course
Opened in 2000, TPC Deere Run was built with the specific goal in mind of hosting a PGA Tour event. And though controversial, I think it makes a great PGA Tour course. What I mean by controversial is that the winning score is low with the highest winning score being 16 under par and more common winning scores being at least 20 under. Some people might say that having that many birdies makes a tournament boring to watch, and they want to see the best players in the world struggle. I say players birdies are more fun to watch than bogeys any day of the week.
The course isn’t particularly short, listed at 7258 par 71. But considering the tournament is sponsored by a farm equipment company, they’re going to make sure every blade of grass is watered and green which means great scoring conditions and low numbers.
Our favorite shortish lefty, Brian Harman harmlessly bogeyed the final hole to win by one over wedgemaster Zach Johnson. Granted, his three consecutive birdies on 14 – 16 put him in position to be able to bogey the last hole, but come on, you gotta finish strong!
What to Watch For
Steve Stricker — Frankly, this should be called the Steve Stricker Classic. Sticker’s worst finish in the last 6 years was T11 last year, combined with THREE wins (all in a row), a 5th and a 10th. Granted, he’s gotten progressively worse each year. And he hasn’t been playing nearly as much as in the past, but still, you can’t mention the JDC without talking about Stricker.
Zach Johnson — The JDC could also probably be known as the Zach Johnson Classic as well. The local Iowan has also played well every year finishing 2nd, T2, 1, T3, T21 in the past five years. So the question becomes, who’s going to finish better out of Johnson and Stricker?
Charter to the British — Considering this tournament is right before a major across an ocean and on a different continent, you’re going to need something to entice topper name players to play. One way they do it is by charting a plane over to England right after the completion of play that lands in the morning in time for practice rounds and for players to adjust to the time. Not sure how much of this is valid, but check out this description of Tour charters from an “undercover Tour pro”.