SILVIS — When the 2019 John Deere Classic ended and the final formalities of the check and trophy presentations had been made to Dylan Frittelli, Clair Peterson let the gathered crowd know that the 2020 PGA Tour event would again be the second week of July, just ahead of the Open Championship.
We found out this week when the official 2019-2020 PGA Tour schedule was released that the celebrated 50th Quad-Cities PGA Tour event, scheduled for July 9-12 at TPC Deere Run, would be between two “majors.”
With next season's schedule jumbled by the Olympics at the end of July, some major shuffling of the schedule took place and that left the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational the first week of July. Yep, just ahead of the $6.4 million JDC.
Hopefully, that shift will be much better for the JDC than it was having the WGC event in Memphis following the British. But it is hard to tell.
“Who knows” was a phrase Peterson used more than a few times when looking ahead to how the schedule might affect next year's JDC field.
Who knows is right.
Again, the Tour has spaced out the four majors and the Players Championship to fall basically once a month beginning with the Players on March 12-15.
However, the summer schedule gets quite hectic. The U.S. Open is at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York on June 18-21. It is followed by The Travelers at TPC River Highlands (June 25-28), the WGC event in Memphis (July 2-5), the JDC (July 9-12), and the Open Championship at Royal St. George's Golf Club in England (July 16-19).
Players return stateside for the 3M Open (July 23-26) before the Olympics in Japan (July 30-Aug. 2). There is no opposite event to the Olympics next year, a spot in which the JDC found itself in 2016.
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“We tried to predict last year with the new schedule what was going to happen and I don't know that we were correct,” said Peterson, noting some top players flocked to new events in the Twin Cities (3M Open) and Detroit (Rocket Mortgage Classic) the two weeks ahead of the 2019 JDC. “It really comes down to how many weeks in a row these guys want to play.”
Which is impossible to project. This year's late-season events have not drawn the top golfers. Shoot, even this week's Wyndham Championship – with a $10 million bonus on the line to the Top 10 FedExCup regular-season finishers – only drew one Top 10 player and two of the Top 15 from the FedEx Cup list.
This year's JDC was the first local event since 2002 to not draw a Top 50 golfer in the Official World Golf Ranking. With a field deft of top names, crowds appeared a little slimmer this year, but the event featured plenty of excitement with its 23rd first-time PGA Tour winner in Frittelli and presumably plenty of charitable success.
Does the date or the schedule make a difference?
Of course it does. Players have had success here and the following week after taking the tournament-sponsored charter across the Atlantic. Francesco Molinari tied for second here in 2018 and won his first major the following week. However, it can be hard to convince them playing Deere Run can prep them for the Open Championship.
Some needing rest means they will still find it difficult to fit a stop in the Quad-Cities into their schedules. Memphis/Quad-Cities/England is doable, of course. But will they do it?
Whether they come here or not will not change the success of this tournament.
“We're going to do what we've done for most of the 50 years – put on an event that we're proud of, that the community is proud of, that Deere is proud of, that the PGA Tour is proud of,” said Peterson.
With this being a milestone tournament for the Quad-Cities, maybe Peterson and his staff can call in a few markers and make next year's event really special.
But who knows. Time will tell if next season's schedule proves to be helpful for the only small market event left on Tour.