Zach Johnson questions congested schedule and urges focus on next generation at John Deere Classic

Zach Johnson has played down the weakened field for this week’s John Deere Classic and urged golf fans to follow the tournament for the next generation of stars.

The United States' Ryder Cup captain suggested that players need more time off to deal with the demands of a congested schedule. 

World number 58 Webb Simpson will be the highest ranked player at the TPC Deere Run, while the Horizon Irish Open on the DP World Tour has attracted a total of five top 50 golfers.

Both events will also have to contend with the second tournament from the Saudi-backed LIV Tour, which can boast up to eight top-50 players.

Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka are some of the names who are set to compete in Oregon.

DeChambeau claimed his first ever PGA Tour title in the 2017 John Deere Classic, while Jordan Spieth is a two-time winner of the event.

Ahead of this year's tournament, Johnson told the media: "There's a lot on the horizon with obviously The Open Championship and then you throw in the FedEx Cup play-offs and then the Presidents Cup and that sort of thing.

"The individuals we're talking about, I'm not saying they won't ever come here, but time off is needed. That's the simple way of putting that.

"What would I say to the fans? (It) is the next guys that are playing on some of these cup teams are probably in the field right now. That's what I would say. Whether they're young pros or even some veteran guys that have been there before.

"I think we'll see some guys surface and make headlines in major championships and on teams. I mean it just happens. I think if you were to ask the golfing public out there that is somewhat golf literate, two and a half years ago did they really know who Scottie Scheffler was?

"I mean we picked him at the Ryder Cup last year. For all intents and purposes he might have been our sixth pick, but 12th man. I don't think we have to question who he is now.

"So that would be my response. There's a number of Scottie Schefflers out there and my guess is there could be a few in the field."

Johnson claimed the John Deere Classic crown a decade ago and finished tied ninth in the following week's Open Championship, a tournament he won three years later at St Andrews for his second major title.

READ MORE: Three players added for the second LIV Golf event, including amateur world number 2

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