SILVIS, Ill. — There was plenty of movement on Friday when it came to the John Deere Classic field.
Unfortunately for the 48th annual event, it was more bad news than good on the final day players had to officially commit to next week's $5.8 million PGA Tour event at TPC Deere Run.
There were nine notables who had been in the 156-player field who withdrew for various reasons, and they took 25 Tour titles and 68 international victories with them. Those were Charles Howell III, Daniel Berger, two-time U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen, former U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy, Smylie Kaufman, Angel Cabrera, Kevin Na, J.J. Spaun and Grayson Murray, who will presumably defend his title at next week's Barbasol Championship.
“There were some WDs that are losses for sure and were a surprise,” said Clair Peterson, veteran JDC tournament director.
Goosen played in a British Open qualifier earlier this week in England and earned a spot in next week's Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf club in Scotland, so he presumably just stayed on the continent. Na earned a spot in the Open last week with a top 10 finish at the Quicken Loans National. Berger, who is British Open-qualified, sent a text to JDC officials saying he was not playing because of an injured hand, and Kaufman withdrew from this week's Greenbrier event with an injury.
“It's the nature of the business,” said Peterson, who has experienced more entry-deadline Fridays without nice surprises than those with good news. “It's not unexpected that you're going to have changes right up until the final hour. ... We still feel great about the field.”
There's plenty to be excited about, too, even without some of the more recognizable names in the field. There will be 23 players who have won tournaments in the last two years in the field, including Francesco Molinari, who won the Quicken Loans National in runaway fashion two weeks ago.
There are also 33 players who have their Tour cards with Top 125 placements on last year's money list. Off this year's FedExCup list, there will be six players ranked in the Top 25 (No. 6 defending champ Bryson DeChambeau, No. 9 Patton Kizzire, No. 17 Chesson Hadley, No. 18 Andrew Landry, No. 23 Aaron Wise and No. 25 Chez Reavie). In all, there are 77 golfers in the top 150 on the FedExCup list who are going to be in the Quad-Cities.
The latest additions to the field include Brian Gay (No. 46 on the FedExCup list), Harris English (No. 118) and 27-year-old Harold Varner III (No. 139), who will be making his second straight JDC start.
The 46-year-old Gay, a four-time Tour winner who has four Top 10 finishes this season, will be back in the Quad-Cities for his 13th start. English, a two-time Tour champ, has made the cut in all three previous Q-C starts, his last trip here in 2015.
“I love Harold Varner. He is a terrific personality and a great guy to have in the field,” said Peterson. “English is a very accomplished player, and Brian Gay is playing great this year.”