PGA TOUR Destinations

 

The John Deere Classic

 

July 2009

 

 

The John Deere Classic in Moline, Illinois is the home of my first victory on the PGA TOUR.  Formerly known as the Quad Cities, John Deere began sponsoring the tournament in 1999, the year I won the tournament.  The tournament was held at one of the first golf courses designed by Pete Dye, Oakwood Country Club, a rural golf course that was the home of the tournament for many years. I remember the course being deceptively tight and requiring precise distance control with approach shots.  I played very well in each round and ended up making a birdie on the last hole in regulation to go into a playoff with Mike Brisky at 19 under par for the week.  The playoff started on the 18th hole where Mike made a long putt for birdie and I made a 10-footer.  On the next playoff hole, Mike was on the green in regulation and I was in the front bunker.  I holed out the bunker shot and he made about a 12-footer to tie the hole.  We both parred number seventeen and birdied eighteen to tie and on number sixteen Mike missed a birdie putt and I managed to knock in a three-footer to win.  Many people have said that the playoff was the best in the history of televised golf.  All I know is that I felt fortunate to come out on top.  This win jump-started my career at the age of 39 and gave me a lot of confidence to go on and play well for the next several years.  The John Deere Classic has been my best event during my career, and I have placed in the top ten there on several occasions.  Being from the Midwest, both my wife and I have a lot of family in the area who attend the tournament.  This helps my motivation and concentration during the week for better results. 

 

My best off-the-course memories of the John Deere Classic are the concerts we have seen in Moline at the i Wireless Center during the week of the tournament.  James Taylor, John Denver, and Janet Jackson are among the big name performers who we were fortunate enough to see.  John Deere also has a family event for the golfers each year called "The Big Dig", a picnic style event where the players have a chance to drive John Deere equipment and socialize with their friends. The John Deere Classic is a well run event with friendly people and a low key atmosphere that is relaxing and fun for the players.

 

The John Deere Classic started the Birdies for Charity program which collects money from sponsors for each birdie made during the tournament. From last year's tournament alone, $4.79 million was raised for participating non-profit organizations. This is a great way to give back through golf. The John Deere Biridies for Charity program has inpsired many other tournaments to create similar charity programs.

 

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