2016 John Deere Classic Preview

Year after year, the John Deere Classic provides drama, with the last 8 championships being decided by less than 3 shots and 4 of the 8 in playoffs. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to get ready for this year’s championship.

What happened last year? 

Superstar Jordan Spieth claimed his second victory at TPC Deere Run besting journeyman Tom Gillis in a playoff. Spieth and Gillis ended 72 holes tied at 20-under par, with Spieth winning on the second playoff hole by making par on the tough 18th. Finishing one shot back of Spieth and Gillis was the duo of Danny Lee and local product, Zach Johnson, who is seemingly always a factor at the event.

Who's Playing? 

Despite defending champion Jordan Spieth not participating in this year’s John Deere, the field has plenty of big names. Perennial contenders Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker are playing as well as a great collection of Sponsors Exemptions that include last year’s NCAA Champion Aaron Wise, 4-time All-American Charlie Danielson, Georgia standout Lee McCoy and the low-amateur in the 2015 Open Championship Jordan Niebrugge. Other notables include 2014 champion Brian Harman, Jon Rahm and Wesley Bryan. 

The Track

The scene at the 18th at TPC Deere Run.

5 storylines to watch

Jon Rahm during his college years.

  1. Jon Rahm & Wesley Bryan - The two started the season in very different places, with Rahm finishing up his junior year at Arizona State and Bryan, a popular trick shot artist who happened to earn his Web.com Tour Card. Through great play, both now find themselves with full status on the PGA Tour for the remainder of this year and next. Rahm obtained his by earning enough money during his sponsor exemptions and Bryan by the rarely used “Battlefield Promotion” that goes to a Web.com player who wins 3 times. Both come in hot, with Rahm finishing t2nd and t25th in his past two starts and Bryan winning his last start on the Web.com Tour.
  2. Strick & ZJ - These two Midwesterners have been dominant over the years at the JDC with Stricker claiming 3 straight titles from 2009-2011 and Zach Johnson winning the 2012 championship while finishing runner up in ‘09, ‘13 and ‘14. Expect these two veterans to be near the top of the leaderboard late on Sunday. 
  3. The Sponsor’s Exemptions - The JDC does a great job year in and year out at giving a crop of young up and coming pros the opportunity to build their career at JDC. This year, don’t be surprised to see high-profile sponsor exemptions Aaron Wise, Lee McCoy, Jordan Niebrugge, Charlie Danielson or Robby Shelton in contention on Sunday. All of these young guns have proven they have game with stellar collegiate careers and top finishes at the professional level, so it won’t come as a surprise if one of them is in contention on Sunday.
  4. The Illini - Always a big event for alumni of the University of Illinois whose fans come out in droves to Silvis to watch their Illini in the pro ranks. This year, the John Deere will feature 5 Illinois grads, the aforementioned Stricker and Danielson along with Luke Guthrie, Scott Langley and D.A. Points. 
  5. The two-year exemption - While the Olympics has pulled many of the world’s top players from this year’s field, the JDC offers a great opportunity for a young player or struggling veteran to lock up the two-year exemption that comes with a PGA Tour win.

Coverage: 

Catch the John Deere Classic on TV and the PGA Tour Live App (times below):

Thursday: 8:30 AM - 5 PM - PGA Tour Live App
5 - 8 PM EST - Golf Channel

Friday: 8:30 AM - 5 PM - PGA Tour Live App
5 - 8 PM EST - Golf Channel

Saturday & Sunday: 3-6 PM EST (CBS)