Ziehm: Glover back to defend title at John Deere Classic near Quad Cities
A big week in golf tees off Thursday when the John Deere Classic, Illinois' only annual PGA Tour stop, goes head to head for three days with the controversial LIV Tour's first American tournament in Oregon.
The Saudi-backed LIV event will have four stars -- Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer and Brooks Koepka -- who bolted the PGA since the Saudi tour's first event in London. While top players continue to swell the LIV roster the exodus won't include Lucas Glover.
Glover, who will defend his JDC title at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, has declared his allegiance to the tour but he's not critical of those who have departed.
"I'm playing the PGA Tour. I like it," said Glover, whose biggest win was at the 2009 U.S. Open. "I'm not judging anybody. I just choose to support the PGA Tour."
Glover is a journeyman, and the JDC helped him get started on the PGA Tour, by giving him a sponsor's exemption in 2002. DeChambeau and Reed also received invites from JDC director Clair Peterson, who will end a 20-year stint in guiding the tournament after this week's is over. Other major champions who received an early career boost via JDC invites were Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson. Spieth won the JDC twice and Johnson and DeChambeau have also won the title.
Glover, who didn't earn PGA Tour membership until 2004, remembers getting his call from Peterson 20 years ago when he was playing on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour.
"It was my third start on the PGA Tour," he said. "I had no status, so it was a pretty big deal. I remember shooting 66 the first two rounds and being in, maybe, the second-to-last group. I was 23 years old, and didn't have a very good weekend."
But he did have one last year, in the 50th anniversary staging of the JDC.
"Back then (in 2002) is was that whole thinking-about-it stuff, but it was a great experience," Glover said. "You're grateful for every opportunity."
Last year was an even better experience, as Glover became a rare veteran to win the tournament. Usually the champion comes from the younger set, but Glover won in his 454th career start on the PGA Tour. He was tied for 12th entering the final round and shot 64 in pouring rain -- the same muddy conditions in which he had won the U.S. Open. The JDC win was his first on the tour since the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship.
"Making the turn, I took a long look at the scoreboard and noticed nobody was really going too low," Glover said. "I just said, 'There's a lot of birdie holes on the back.' It's just the mindset of what we do to stay aggressive and try to post a number."
Glover, 42, has had only one Top 10 finish since his win, a tie for fifth in January's Sony Open in Hawaii. He tied for 30th in this year's Masters and tied for 23rd in the PGA Championship. He didn't compete in the U.S. Open.
• Illinois Golf Hall of Famer Len Ziehm is on the "Golfers on Golf " radio show from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday on WNDZ (AM-750). He co-hosts the "Ziehm & Spears Golf Podcast Series" on social media. Past columns are at lenziehmongolf.com.
Monday: Pro-am but TPC Deere Run closed to public.
Tuesday: Course closed to public.
Wednesday: JD Pro-Am runs all day. Youth Day activities include 2 p.m. clinic hosted by players Cameron Champ and Wesley Bryant.
Thursday, Friday: First- and second-round play begins at 7 a.m. TV: Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m.
Saturday: Third round tentatively to start at 7 a.m. TV: Golf Channel, noon-1:30 p.m. CBS, 2-5 p.m.
Sunday: Final round tentatively scheduled to start at 7 a.m. TV: Golf Channel, noon-1:30 p.m.; CBS, 2-5 p.m.