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‘Dawgs on Tour: John Deere Classic

John Deere Classic - Final Round Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Tournament: The John Deere Classic, July 11-14, 2019

Course: TPC Deere Run, 7,268 yards, par 71. It’s in Silva, IL a couple of hours west of Chicago, and on the Illinois/Iowa border. Called the “Quad Cities” region.

Purse: $6,000,000 (and maybe the lowest full-field purse on the Tour).

Defending Champion: Michael Kim. Don’t worry, unless you follow golf a lot, most aren’t familiar with Kim. He was a very good collegiate player at Cal, and had only been on Tour for about 3 years - and not much to show for it. But he got hot at the right time, blistering the field for a runaway victory and setting a record 27 under par winning score.

Fun Fact: I’ll just leave this here:

Television: Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

‘Dawgs in the Field: 5. Sepp Straka, Brendon Todd, Russell Henley, Joey Garber, and former John Deere Champion Brian Harman.

I’ll be honest, as far as professional golf tournaments go, this one falls pretty far down the hype meter. The purse is small, the location isn’t exactly a family-fun destination compared to others, the field is bereft of the top players, it’s the week before a major that’s played overseas... this tournament has it’s work cut out for it to grab eyeballs and corporate sponsorship dollars.

Surprisingly, this also turns out some of the most dramatic finishes and thrills you can find. Paul Goydos shot a 59 on this course... and lost. Steve Stricker seemingly set scoring records every entry about 10 years back. 19 year old Jordan Spieth holed out from the bunker on 18 to force a playoff, eventually getting his first PGA Tour win. Unconventional Bryson DeChambeau got his first title here in 2017, 25 years after his idol, and fellow Ivy Cap wearer Payne Stewart (when named the Quad Cities Classic).

You still get a million dollars plus when you win, You still get a 2 year Tour exemption. You still get an invitation to play in the January Tournament of Champions. Yes, you get an invite to The Masters. And you get what most of these guys are here for... an automatic entry into the British Open held next Thursday in Ireland. At least if you’re not already entered. By my count, less than 10% of the this week’s field is entered into next week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush. So this is the last chance to make something magical happen. And if it does, the tournament charters a plane to fly you directly to Ireland to save you some last minute airline hassle.

That is exactly what our 5 ‘Dawgs are looking for, as none have qualified for the fourth major thus far. Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson, and Keith Mitchell have already punched their ticket and are likely heading over the pond as we speak. Henley, Harman, and Todd have all played in the Open before but are not currently eligible. So go out and win one boys, and I hope to see you in County Antrim. And as always...