John Deere Classic canceled
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John Deere Classic canceled

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The John Deere Classic is another event lost to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Silvis-based tournament was to be the fifth on the PGA Tour’s revised schedule. It was scheduled for July 9-12, but Illinois will still limit gatherings to 50 people at that point.

“Because of the ongoing health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, the difficult decision was made to cancel the 2020 John Deere Classic,” said tournament director Clair Peterson in a statement. “While we considered several alternatives for the Classic, this was the choice that made the most sense for our guests, the players and the Quad City community at large.”

The loss of the yearly event will leave an economic void in the Quad-Cities economy. The 2019 event hosted more than 80,000 patrons who generated $31.3 million in direct economic impact to the region and another $23 million indirectly, according to tournament figures.

Dave Herrell, CEO of Visit Quad Cities, said Thursday’s announcement was “incredibly disappointing” but understandable amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand and deeply respect the decision the John Deere Classic and John Deere and the PGA Tour had to make on this one,” Herrell said. “Those three entities didn’t want to put people in harm’s way and that’s a very responsible decision. From a business perspective and our community, it’s a tough one. The economics of it in terms of what that significant of an event brings to the region is huge and that’s sobering news.”

Paul Rumler, CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, said he looks forward to the tournament returning to the area next summer as the coronavirus pandemic has impacted yet another event.

“I know that the officials made a decision in the best interest of everyone involved. The area businesses have supported this event for 49 years and will continue to do so,” Rumler said.

Herrell said the 50th tournament, now happening in 2021, will be an event the Quad-Cities community can rally around. Rumler and Herrell point to the tournament’s Birdies for Charity program continuing without the golf event this year as a benefit for the region to support local organizations.

Tournament director Clair Peterson outlined how the program is operating this year last week during a virtual event hosted by the Quad-Cities Chamber.

“The tournament will, however, continue its commitment to the 2020 Birdies for Charity campaign, including a promise to deliver at least a 5 percent bonus to all participating organizations. Last year, the tournament raised $13.8 million for 543 organizations,” according to the statement on the John Deere Classic’s website.

That was a record year for Birdies for Charity.

“Our top priority is the health and well-being of players, fans, volunteers and support staff of the John Deere Classic,” said Mara Downing, Vice President Global Brand and Communication. “We know this announcement will come as a disappointment to the Quad-City area and to the broader golf community. We look forward to celebrating the 50th playing of the tournament in 2021.”

Birdies for Charity participants can get printable forms on the website — www.birdiesforcharity.com — for pledges.

Jen Hartmann, director of strategic and public relations for Deere & Co., said in a statement Thursday that the Moline-based company was proud of its longstanding partnerships that make the tournament possible, as well as the annual event raising millions for local charities.

“In light of all the challenges this year, we’re proud of the tournament’s commitment to the local community and look forward to joining them in support of their charitable efforts through Birdies for Charity,” she said. “We also look forward to next year’s 50th playing of the John Deere Classic and returning to TPC Deere Run for what we expect to be the best tournament yet.”

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