The John Deere Classic on Friday awarded a sponsor exemption to former Southern Illinois star Luke Gannon, who Monday-qualified last year for the tournament and recently competed in the U.S. Open.

Gannon, 25, who has conditional status on Canada’s Forme Tour, said he is grateful to have the exemption because it will give him more time to prepare for the tournament compared to going through Monday-qualifying. The tournament is June 29-July 3 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Gannon, a native of Witchita, Kansas who now lives with his wife in Mahomet, Ill. outside Champaign. “I’m pretty fortunate. Last year, after Monday-qualifying it was kind of a panic. Where to stay, who’s going to caddie for me, not getting to see much of the golf course. This year it will be nice to get a couple of rounds in before the event.”

Clair Peterson, executive director of the John Deere Classic said he was excited to award the exemption to Gannon. “Luke is the kind of player who has worked hard and has a great story,” Peterson said. “Ryan French’s article about Luke [on the Firepit Collective website] and how he worked as a janitor in his father’s chucrh to finance his dream I think is something that will resonate with our fans. And, of course, he has a great golf game, having played in the U.S. Open just last week.”

The stakes are high for Gannon, who led the Salukis to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Championship in 2016 and 2019 and was a multi-year All MVC selection. Should he win, he would receive a two-year exemption onto the PGA Tour and an invitation to the Masters. A top 10 finish would get him in to next week’s PGA Tour event while a top 25 would admit him to next week’s Korn Ferry Tour event.

Gannon joins previously announced up-and-coming young sponsor exemptions Chris Gotterup, who finished T43 at the U.S. Open; Patrick Flavin, a five-time Monday-qualifier this season, and recent Duke graduate Quinn Riley, who is ranked No. 1 on the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour’s (APGA) Collegiate Ranking.

Over the years, John Deere Classic sponsor exemptions have enjoyed success on the PGA Tour, including 2021 JDC champion and 2009 U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover (2002), 2020 U.S. Open winner and 2017 JDC champion Bryson DeChambeau (2015), two-time JDC champion (2013 and 2015) and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth (2012), 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas (2013), 2021 U.S. Open winner Jon Rahm (2016), 2015 PGA Champion Jason Day (2006), 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed (2012), 2007 Masters and 2015 British Open champion Zach Johnson (2002-03) and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson (2008).

The John Deere Classic, which includes Birdies for Charity, is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization located in the John Deere Classic tournament offices at 15623 Coaltown Road, East Moline, Illinois.  Since its founding in 1971, the tournament has helped raise $145.66 million for charity, 98 percent of which has been raised since John Deere assumed title sponsorship in 1998.