John Deere Classic helps raise $12.22 million for charity

John Deere Classic

The 18th hole at TPC Deere Run during the final round of the John Deere Classic on July 14, 2019. (Ryan Jaster, OurQuadCities.com)

There was no John Deere Classic golf tournament in 2020, but that didn’t stop the Birdies for Charity program from raising millions for local and regional organizations.

The JDC will contribute $12.22 million to 465 local and regional charities.

Tournament officials announced Friday that each participating charity will receive a 5 percent bonus in addition to the money raised through the Birdies for Charity program.

“Thanks to the incredible ongoing generosity of individuals, companies and family foundations, the John Deere Classic is pleased to announce that despite cancelation of the tournament we were able to raise $12.22 million, including a 5 percent bonus, for 465 deserving charities,” John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson said at a news conference at the Smart Lexus Quad Cities dealership in Davenport. “In particular, Deere & Company and the John Deere Foundation played leading roles in helping us maintain the charitable impact the tournament has on the community.”

The $12.22 million figure is the fourth largest donation amount in tournament history, according to tournament records.

With the 2020 donations, the John Deere Classic now has helped raise a total of $133.09 million for charity since the tournament began in 1971, with $130.54 million – 98 percent – coming since John Deere assumed title sponsorship in 1998.

The $12.22 million total works out to $32.58 for each of the Quad Cities’ 375,000 residents, again making the John Deere Classic the No. 1 in per capita contributions on the regular PGA TOUR, a distinction it has had for over a decade.

This year, because the tournament was canceled, all contributions were lump sum donations unrelated to the original Birdies for Charity model, which linked contributions to the number of birdies recorded during the four-day tournament and Wednesday pro-am.

Also, because the tournament was canceled, the annual Lexus two-year lease giveaway — courtesy of Smart Lexus of Quad Cities — was a random drawing of all donors instead of a drawing among donors who correctly guessed the number of birdies recorded during the tournament. Kraig Sleaford of Davenport won the two-year lease on a Lexus NX.

The free Lexus NX lease program annually serves as an incentive to potential donors to participate in the Birdies program. In a typical year, Smart Lexus of Quad Cities would have provided courtesy cars for John Deere Classic contestants and on-course evacuation vehicles.

“Even without the tournament, the opportunity for Birdies for Charity donors to win a two-year lease on a Lexus NX added an extra incentive and an element of fun to the pledge drive,” said Birdies for Charity director Kristy Ketcham-Jackson. “In a year that has brought uncertainty and hardship to so many individuals and businesses, it was even more generous of Smart Lexus of the Quad Cities to maintain its affiliation with the tournament and continue its lease giveaway program. We are extremely grateful.”

Dylan Frittelli, 30, won the 2019 John Deere Classic with a score of 21-under par 263, becoming the 23rd player in tournament history to win his first PGA Tour in the Quad Cities. The native of South Africa and former Texas Longhorn is scheduled to defend his title July 5-11, 2021.

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