Former college stars receive exemptions to play JDC

Two college golf stars who recently turned pro – Neal Shipley and Cole Sherwood – have been awarded sponsor exemptions to play in next week’s John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run, Silvis.

They join Luke Clanton and Jackson Buchanan as the up-and-coming potential future stars who received sponsor exemptions this year. 

“We are thrilled to continue the John Deere Classic’s decades-long tradition of awarding sponsor exemptions to provide young players with the opportunity to compete in a full-field PGA Tour event against many of the greatest players in the world,” JDC Tournament Director Andrew Lehman said in a news release Thursday, June 27. “Since the tournament came to Deere Run in the year 2000, players who received sponsor exemptions here have gone on to win 23 major championships. Tiger Woods, who received an exemption in 1996, of course, has 15.”

Since the year 2000, the John Deere Classic has awarded exemptions to such future major champions as Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, Jason Day, Wyndham Clark, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm. Other PGA Tour winners who received exemptions include Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Camilo Villegas, Nick Hardy and Viktor Hovland.

The 53rd edition of the Quad Cities-based PGA Tour event will be conducted July 3-7 at TPC Deere Run with Sepp Straka as the defending champion. The tournament, sponsored by Moline-based John Deere, will offer an $8 million purse. 

Mr. Shipley, 23, of Pittsburgh, was low amateur at both the Masters and U.S. Open this year, an accomplishment only nine players in history have achieved. He played college golf at Ohio State (last season) and James Madison (three years) and turned pro after the U.S. Open. In his professional debut, he finished ninth at the Beachlands Victoria Open in Canada and is making his PGA Tour debut this week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

Mr. Sherwood, 22, of Austin, Texas, will be making his PGA Tour debut. He starred at Vanderbilt both on and off the course before recently turning pro. He was a first-team All-America, first team SEC and was named SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year. On the strength of his college performance, he finished seventh in PGA Tour University rankings for which he earned conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour. 

Mr. Shipley and Mr. Sherwood will add to the “young gun” element of the tournament by joining Clanton and Buchanan.

In his just-finished sophomore year, Mr. Clanton, 20, made Florida State history by finishing second in individual stroke play at the NCAA Championship and winning three consecutive tournaments. He finished behind Mr. Shipley at the Open in the low amateur competition.

Mr. Buchanan, 22, was named Big Ten Golfer of the Year after winning twice, and finished runner up at the Big Ten Championship. The Dacula, Georgia, native played in all 13 University of Illinois events and posted an impressive 70.90 stroke average. He was named a third team All-America by the Golf Coaches Association of America.

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.