PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic set to produce another thrilling finish with young stars contending

The John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour is often overlooked.

Not a lot of household names make it to the Quad Cities on the Illinois-Iowa border, nor do many golf pundits pay attention to it due to its timing on the calendar following the Jul. 4 holiday.

But golf fans should tune in Sunday afternoon as plenty of rising stars are contending at TPC Deere Run.

Of the last 20 champions at the John Deere Classic, eight were first-time winners on the PGA Tour. That includes both Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau, as the John Deere Classic gave each star ample confidence for years to come.

Perhaps Denny McCarthy, who lost in a playoff to Viktor Hovland at the Memorial Tournament, can taste victory for the first time. He sits one stroke off the lead.

Or maybe Cameron Young comes from behind and claims his first win on the PGA Tour. Young held the 36-hole lead going into Saturday but shot an even-par 71 as he sits at 13-under for the tournament. A double bogey on 18 gave Young a sour taste in his mouth as he walked off the golf course.

He is three strokes behind Brendon Todd, who fired a 5-under 66 to ascend up the leaderboard to 16-under.

SILVIS, Ill. — Brendon Todd of the United States plays his shot from the fifth tee during the third round of the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run on July 08, 2023.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Todd will enter Sunday’s round as the solo overnight leader, hoping to win his fourth PGA Tour event. He most recently won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in 2019.

He also hopes to play well enough to qualify for The Open Championship.

One perk of the John Deere Classic is that it is a part of the Open Qualifying Series. Here is how it works: the top three players that have not already qualified for The Open at Royal Liverpool will get their tickets punched to golf’s oldest major.

That would mean the world for Todd, who missed last year’s Open at St. Andrews and is not currently in the field. His best finish at The Open came in 2015, also at St. Andrews, where he tied for 12th. But he has only played in three other editions.

Major championships are what professional golfers live for, and playing well in—or winning—any PGA Tour event helps players get there.

Other players hoping to win for the first time on the PGA Tour include Adam Schenk, Alex Smalley, and Peter Kuest, who recently made it in at the Rocket Mortgage Classic via Monday qualifier.

Kuest does not even have membership status on the PGA Tour, so a win at TPC Deere Run would change his life.

Regardless of what happens Sunday, someone will achieve their dream, which is always amazing to see.

Kind of like how Spieth did so in 2013. He forced a playoff with this shot and eventually went on to win as a 19-year-old:

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.