It's a day filled with mixed emotions for many in the Quad Cities. Today - Wednesday, July 8th, 2020 - would have been the Pro-Am of the 2020 John Deere Classic, with the First Round of Tournament Play starting tomorrow. However, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the JDC was cancelled and all eyes are on 2021:
"This event, for 49 consecutive years, has faced a lot of challenges," said Clair Peterson, JDC Tournament Director, during a live interview with Good Morning Quad Cities today. "Many of which took the tournament right to the brink – press conferences that were supposed to be held to say it wasn’t going to exist anymore, so hitting the pause button this year is not - in the long view - going to hurt the event. John Deere is one of the great title sponsors, if not the best on the PGA Tour and they’re with us through 2023, so we’re all looking forward to our 50th next year."
Before we open our calendars to July 5th, 2021 though - which is only 362 days away! - we need to open our wallets and help the Birdies for Charity Program. The fundraising vehicle of the JDC is still going on this year and there are just a couple days left to donate to more than 500 charities throughout our area:
"All those organizations didn’t miss speed," explained Clair. "We had printable pledge forms that they’ve taken off our website, sent to their supporters, those have been coming in. We have reminded people to make a donation electronically at birdiesforcharity.com to either your favorite organization or to the Bonus Fund which funds the second check that every organization gets so we’re in the home stretch of that."
As for any regrets on cancelling this year's tournament, Clair says he has none - especially with the recent news about 2020 JDC Champ Dylan Frittelli:
"Our champion, Dylan Frittelli, tested positive [for COVID-19] about a week ago so he wouldn’t even have been able to defend," said Clair. "The idea of having fans, which we kinda of held out some early hope for, has gone away. The Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament next week was going to try to have fans and they now have changed their mind about that, so once you don’t have fans, that’s what we all look forward to – being out here at a beautiful venue with your friends, seeing 156 athletes, watching a great finish. If you take that away, it loses a lot of its appeal and so we’re more convinced than ever that we made the right decision."
WQAD News 8 is the official station of the John Deere Classic and every night this week on News 8 at 6:30pm, News 8 Sports is celebrating 50 years of magic as they look back at some of the best moments from the past five decades of PGA play in the Quad Cities.