With only one week before the British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club, the John Deere Classic tournament field is understandably light on big names.
Most top-ranked golfers choose to arrive in Northern Ireland a few days in advance to get acclimated with the links-style golf course. Plus, with the World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis the week after The Open, a three-week stretch of golf tournaments, including a trip overseas, seems unlikely for many players.
So while Kevin Na — ranked No. 32 in the World Golf Rankings — is the only top-50 ranked player included in the John Deere Classic field at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., there’s a bevy of up-and-comers included in the 156-player field who could find first-time tournament success, much like a young Jordan Spieth did six years earlier.
In 2013, two weeks before his 20th birthday, Spieth became the first teenager to win on the PGA Tour since 1931. He beat out defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn on the fifth hole of a playoff with a 19-under 265.
Recent college players Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Justin Suh will compete at TPC Deere Run with sponsor exemptions. And Wolff and Morikawa are coming off impressive displays at the inaugural 3M Open in Blaine, Minn., entering their final round Sunday tied for first at 15 under, along with Bryson DeChambeau.
At the par-71, 7,268-yard course, there will be opportunities for rookies to make their mark. But there’s also a chance for former winners to rekindle past success — as well as earn a berth to The Open.
The John Deere Classic will also feature six previous winners in Johnson, Michael Kim, Ryan Moore, Brian Harman, Jonathan Byrd and John Senden. Kim, who set the 72-hole record with a 257 last year, will make his first PGA Tour title defense. Johnson, meanwhile, hasn’t hoisted a winner’s trophy since the 2015 British Open, but has put together seven top-five finishes at the event in his last 10 appearances.
It won’t be a star-studded cast. But with 500 FedExCup points awarded to the winner, the John Deere Classic field has plenty to play for one week before the last major of 2019.