SILVIS — Even with eight events on the PGA Tour having been victims of the COVID-19 pandemic up to this point and two major golf tournaments moved to later in the calendar year, John Deere Classic officials are proceeding as scheduled for the July event — for now.
"Our position is that we’re very sensitive to the World Health Organization inputs, but as of right now the John Deere Classic is still scheduled to be held in July," said Clair Peterson, JDC tournament director.
While the preparation proceeds as close to normal as possible for the 50th annual event scheduled for July 6-12 at TPC Deere Run, one major event usually held in conjunction with the JDC is being altered.
The format for the distribution of fundraising packets through the Birdies For Charity program is being altered a bit.
Scheduled for Monday, April 13, the packet distribution is still planned to take place at Deere & Co. headquarters in Moline. However, trying to conform to guidelines laid out by state officials and the Centers for Disease Control, there will be no kickoff press conference held in conjunction with the packet distribution on the display floor. That is being done in an attempt to keep the gathering to under 50 people at one time, according to Peterson.
“This year, we will have no press conference,” said Peterson. “We have staggered the schedule. Depending on your ‘bird’ number you come between 9 and 11 a.m., 11 and 1, or 1 and 3 o’clock. That should spread the flow out and in an environment on the display floor where you don’t have to be sitting next to anybody (adhering to the social distancing requests). … We should be able to manage that without betraying the safety considerations that are in place.”
Once again, according to Peterson, there will be satellite locations where charities participating in Birdies For Charity fundraising can pick up their pledge packets at other times if they so choose.
Last year, 2,091 birdies were scored by the professionals in the four tournament rounds and in the pro-am. That helped the tournament collect a record $13,819,154 for the 542 participating charities that collected donations through the program.
On Tuesday, PGA Tour officials announced that the RBC Heritage (April 13-19); Zurich Classic of New Orleans (April 20-26); Wells Fargo Championship (April 27-May 3); and AT&T Byron Nelson (May 7-10) were canceled from the 2019-20 wrap-around schedule. Additionally, the PGA of America has decided to postpone the PGA Championship, scheduled for May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, where former Deere Run head pro Andy Stotereau is now plying his trade.
Without any further changes by the PGA Tour, Peterson said he sees the tournament proceeding without any hiccups.
“Our set-up doesn’t start until the end of May, historically,” said Peterson. “If this is the extent of the changes to the Tour schedule, it won’t have any effect on our natural schedule set-up and the presenting of the event in July.”
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