he John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run is known for providing opportunities to emerging stars, be they amateurs or new professionals. This year's field features a talented group of young players seeking to make their mark in the sport. These prospects include Ludvig Aberg, Ross Steelman, William Mouw, Tommy Kuhl, as well as amateurs Michael Thorbjornsen and Gordon Sargent.
The John Deere Classic has a history of giving sponsor exemptions to up-and-coming players, preferring to invite young talent rather than relying solely on established names. In fact, some of the tournament's most memorable moments have been created by these young players. Jordan Spieth's remarkable hole-out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole in 2013, which led to his first PGA TOUR victory, is a prime example.
The impact of the John Deere Classic's sponsor exemptions is evident in the success stories of past participants. Spieth's win in 2013 made him the youngest TOUR winner in eight decades, setting the stage for his subsequent achievements. Last year, Chris Gotterup, fresh off his senior season at Oklahoma, finished fourth at TPC Deere Run, showcasing the potential for young talents to make their mark.
The 2023 John Deere Classic features several promising prospects, including Ludvig Aberg, who has already made a strong impression on the PGA TOUR since turning pro. Aberg, who recently earned PGA TOUR status through the PGA TOUR University program, has made the cut in all three of his PGA TOUR starts and displayed a powerful game with both distance and accuracy off the tee.
Among the amateurs competing in the event, Gordon Sargent and Michael Thorbjornsen stand out as top-ranked talents. Sargent, currently the world's number one amateur, aims to earn PGA TOUR membership through PGA TOUR U Accelerated. With notable accomplishments such as winning the 2022 NCAA title and competing in majors, Sargent is looking to solidify his standing with a strong performance at the John Deere Classic.
Thorbjornsen, a senior at Stanford University, has already proven himself on the big stage. As a former U.S. Junior Amateur champion, he made a name for himself by finishing fourth in last year's Travelers Championship. Alongside Sargent, he has been selected to represent the U.S. in the Walker Cup, highlighting his potential as a top-tier amateur player.
Ross Steelman, William Mouw, and Tommy Kuhl round out the group of prospects to watch at the John Deere Classic. Steelman, ranked fourth in the 2023 PGA TOUR U standings, impressed with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship and has already secured full status on the Korn Ferry Tour. Mouw, ranked sixth in the same standings, has made the cut in all his Korn Ferry Tour starts since turning pro, while Kuhl, ranked fifteenth, has earned conditional PGA TOUR Canada status.
These young players are seeking the opportunities provided by the John Deere Classic to gain valuable experience, test their skills against top-level competition, earn FedExCup points, and ultimately contend for the coveted trophy. TPC Deere Run, known as the land of opportunity, sets the stage for these emerging stars to showcase their talent and make a name for themselves in professional golf.