The PGA Tour heads to Silvas, IL this week for a Midwest mainstay event, the John Deere Classic. The Deere has long been a favorite stop among Tour players and in fact, the 2016 John Deere Classic was named the PGA TOUR Tournament of the Year.
Rain swept through the area on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, softening the course and allowing several players to jump out to quick starts. Titleist golf ball loyalist Charles Howell III (Pro V1) set the early pace, firing an 8-under-par 63 in the opening round on Thursday.
Howell, who is coming off a runner-up finish at last week's Quicken Loans National, gained 4.67 strokes on the field in putting on Thursday and the two-time Tour winner said that the greens this week at TPC Deere Run are the best he's seen in 18 years of playing the event. He was quick to point out, however, that the Par-71, 7,100-yard layout still has some teeth.
"Here it's about minimizing bogeys as much as you can," Howell explained, "and taking advantage of the holes that you need to. There are plenty of strong holes out here where you'll take a par and run to the next one. I think this that's what makes this golf course great and I think that's why you'll see some separation in the scoring. The hard holes are still hard and the easy holes you can take advantage of."
Playing alongside Howell on Thursday was the 2012 Deere champion, Titleist golf ball loyalist Zach Johnson (Pro V1x). The local favorite drafted off of Howell's strong play, carding a 6-under 65 to stay within two shots of his playing partner. Like Howell, Johnson took a more aggressive approach in the wet conditons and was rewarded with seven birdies in Round 1.
"It's one of those you feel like you got to keep the pedal down," Johnson said, hinting at more aggressive play to come and suggesting that this year's event might be a sprint to the finish.
Good luck to all of #TeamTitleist this week!
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TITLEIST BY THE NUMBERS
This week at the John Deere Classic, Titleist is once again the overwhelming golf ball choice, with 113 players trusting a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball, more than seven times the nearest competitor with 16 and more than all competitors combined.
Titleist was also the top choice among players in the hybrids category (29) as well as the irons category with 46 sets in play. Vokey Design Wedges also topped the approach, sand and lob wedge (211) category and Scotty Cameron putters were the top choice among players with 60 putters in play.
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- In 2016, Titleist golf ball loyalist Ryan Moore (Pro V1x) played his last 46 holes at the John Deere Classic without a bogey en route to a final-round, 4-under 67 and a two-stroke win over Titleist Brand Ambassador Ben Martin (Pro V1) at 22-under-par 262. Moore had just two bogeys in last year’s event, the fewest of any player. With his 67 Sunday, he extended his streak of sub-par rounds at TPC Deere Run to 23 straight. The win, his fifth on the PGA TOUR, came in his eighth start at the John Deere Classic. It marked his third top-10 in the event to go along with a T8 in 2012 and T7 in 2014.
- The course record at TPC Deere Run was set in 2010 by Titleist golf ball loyalist Paul Goydos, who shot 59, one of nine sub-60 scores recorded in PGA TOUR history. Goydos finshed runner-up in 2010 , two shots shy of the mark set by Titleist Ambassador Steve Stricker (Pro V1x).
- Six past John Deere Classic champions are in the field this week including Titleist golf ball loyalist Ryan Moore (2016), Titleist golf ball loyalist Zach Johnson (2012), Titleist Ambassador Steve Stricker (2009-2011), Titleist golf ball loyalist Jonathan Byrd (2007) and Titleist Brand Ambassador Sean O’Hair (2005).
- This year’s John Deere Classic marks the twenty-year anniversary of the sponsorship agreement between John Deere and the PGA TOUR. The title sponsorship deal, which extends through 2023, has helped make the Quad Cities’ tournament the third-longest title sponsor relationship on TOUR, raising over $80 million for regional charities in the process.
- Titleist Ambassador Steve Stricker is making his 16th career start at this year’s John Deere Classic. Stricker, who won the event consecutively from 2009-2011, will attempt to add a fourth John Deere Classic to his resume this week. In addition to his three wins, he claimed top-10 finishes in 2004 (T4), 2012 (T5) and 2013 (T10). After just five career starts on PGA TOUR Champions this year, Stricker has finished inside the top 10 four times. This September, Stricker will serve as U.S. Captain for the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club.
- Titleist golf ball loyalist Zach Johnson is also making his 16th start at the John Deere Classic and will begin the week on the strength of 33 consecutive rounds of par-or-better at TPC Deere (totaling 133-under-par). Not since round three of 2008 (75) has he posted an over-par score. With the exception of last year (T34), the native of nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa has finished no worse than T3 in the event since 2011 (T3-2011, 1st-2012, T2-2013, 2nd-2014 and T3-2015).
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Welcome to the 2017 John Deere Classic! Rain early this week made for some dramatic skies over TPC Deere Run.
One of the best perks about having John Deere as a tournament sponsor? The toys and the giant sandbox.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Zac Blair (Pro V1) shares a look at the narrow drive on the par-4 6th hole on the D.A. Weibring design.
Big news at the John Deere Classic this week was the Tour seeding launch of Titleist’s new 818 prototype hybrids. Titleist Brand Ambassador Patton Kizzire (Pro V1x) weighed in on the performance of the new prototypes…
…as did Titleist Brand Ambassador Bobby Wyatt (Pro V1), who shared a peek at the new 818 head cover to boot.
The new 818 prototype hybrids also arrived for player testing and validation at the European Tour’s Scottish Open this week.
Did You Know? The most accurate driver on the PGA Tour this year is three-time John Deere Classic champion and Titleist Ambassador Steve Stricker (Pro V1x).
A few amazing 18th hole highlights from past Titleist champions at the John Deere Classic.
We’ll say good-bye with a look at some of the coolest tee markers on TOUR. Good luck to all the players this week at TPC Deere Run!