LPGA International Crown to Merit Club
Writing from Chicago
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
It didn’t take long for the LPGA, stunningly shunned by Jerry Rich and his Rich Harvest Farms a fortnight ago, to find a replacement course for the second International Crown.
The eight-country team championship conceived by Rich will be played next summer at the Merit Club in north suburban Libertyville, according to the Golfers on Golf website.
Merit Club hosted the 2000 U.S. Women’s Open, as well as a small-field ladies tournament the year before, but those were accomplished with years of planning. The International Crown will take place next July 21-24, just eight months from now.
Golfers on Golf editor Rory Spears received confirmations of the move to Merit on Monday. The LPGA, which issued its 2016 schedule last week with the Crown on it but with no site beyond “Chicago,” had not confirmed the switch of venues as of Monday night.
Karrie Webb will like the change. A likely member of the Australian team next year, Webb won the U.S. Women’s Open played at Merit. She was on the Australian squad at the inaugural Crown at Caves Valley Country Club, near Baltimore, last year.
Rich abruptly pulled his course out of hosting duties when he and LPGA officials couldn’t agree on aspects of the tournament as yet unrevealed. It’s believed the marketing of the Crown, or the lack thereof in comparison to the 2009 Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest, was one of the motivating factors.
The Crown will start a string of three significant women’s golf showcases in the Chicago area in as many years. In 2017, the Women’s PGA Championship – the LPGA Championship until this year – will visit Olympia Fields Country Club, and in 2018, the Women’s PGA will go to Kemper Lakes Golf Club.
That private club, along with Medinah and pubic Cog Hill, were rumored to be in the running for the Crown. Cog Hill had conflicting dates with four-course outings that could not be changed even if the LPGA was begging, and Medinah is looking ahead to the 2019 BMW Championship. That left Kemper Lakes and Merit, and Merit, with nothing else on its calemdar, appeared to have the inside track.
– Tim Cronin
LPGA International Crown leaves Rich Harvest
Writing from Chicago
Wednesday, November 11, 2016
The LPGA’s International Crown, a country vs. country team tournament dreamed up by Rich Harvest Farms owner Jerry Rich, won’t be played at his backyard course next year.
The LPGA announced on Wednesday afternoon that it will be played elsewhere in the Chicago area. The reason for the move was not announced.
Rich had created the Crown, sponsored by UL, as a complementary international championship to the Solheim Cup, which his course hosted in 2009.
The release said, “Despite this decision, both parties remain open to future LPGA opportunities at Rich Harvest Farms based on the successful partnership in staging the 2009 Solheim Cup.”
Next year’s Crown is slated for July 21-24, less than a month before golf returns to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
– Tim Cronin
No. 1 Day romps to BMW crown
Jason Day is the BMW Championship winner and No. 1 in the world. He achieved the latter by winning the former on Sunday at Conway Farms Golf Club. A final round 2-under-par 69 for a Western Open record-tying 22-under 262 brought him a six-stroke victory over rookie Daniel Berger. Rory McIlroy, from whom he snagged the world No. 1 ranking, tied for fourth. Tim Cronin's report is on our News Page.
Ready, set, birdie
Conway Farms yielded a 59, 61 and 63 when the pros visited two years ago. What's in store for this year's BMW Championship. Tim Cronin's preview is on our News page.
Jordan Spieth, an honest man
Tuesday, Jordan Spieth dropped by the interview room at Conway Farms in advance of the BMW Championship to wax eloquently about anything and everything regarding the state of his game, the playoffs and life in general. It was Spieth unfiltered and compelling. Tim Cronin's report on Spieth is on our News page.
September's digital edition of Illinois Golfer!
Click here for the 30-page September digital edition of Illinois Golfer, featuring an in-depth interview with USGA president Tom O'Toole, complete wrapups of the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields, the Western Amateur at Rich Harvest Farms, and the Illinois PGA Championship at Medinah. Plus, a preview of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms, thoughts on next year's International Crown, and why Dawson Alexander should have teed it up in the U.S. Am. All that plus exclusive photography in the September edition of Illinois Golfer, just a click away with the first link, and easily downloadable! (To view via Issuu, click here.)
Billiter wins Illinois PGA by 2
Jim Billiter of Merit Club won the 93rd Illinois PGA Championship on Wednesday on Medinah Country Club's Course One. His 1-under-par 70 held off runner-up Matt Slowinski by two strokes and beat Medinah teaching pro Travis Johns by three. That gave Billiter his second state major of the season to go with the Illinois PGA Match Play title. The full report on the News page.
DeChambeau salts away U.S. Amateur
NCAA Champion Bryson DeChambeau finiched off the double on Sunday, winning the 115th U.S. Amateur championship with a 7 and 6 victory over Derek Bard at Olympia Fields Country Club. The full report on the News page.
August's digital issue of Illinois Golfer!
The August issue of Illinois Golfer features reports on the Illinois Open and Illinois Women's Open, previews of the Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur, and a feature report on the redesigned Mount Prospect Golf Club municipal layout. Enjoy! The link is here. (You have to be a subscriber to Issuu – it's free – to download.)
Olympia Fields, Kemper Lakes score WPGA in 2017, 2018
The WPGA Championship is coming to the Chicago area twice beginning in 2017, when it will be held at Olympia Fields Country Club. In 2018, Kemper Lakes Golf Club will step back into the major spotlight for the first time since the 1989 PGA. The full report on the News page.
Dawson Armstrong wins Western Amateur
Nineteen-year-old Dawson Armstrong's holed bunker shot on the 20th hole won him the 113th Western Amateur on Saturday at Rich Harvest Farms. He beat Aaron Wise, who had a chance to close Armstrong out on the 18th hole and couldn't do so. The full report on the News page.
Final Four set in Western Amateur
Robby Shelton will meet Dawson Armstrong and Jake Knapp will play Aaron Wise in Saturday morning's semifinals in the 113th Western Amateur at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. The full report on the first day of match play on the News page.
Records smashed at Rich Harvest
The course record at Rich Harvest dropped faster than the price of oil on Wednesday at Rich Harvest Farms, going from 67 to 66 to 64 in a matter of minutes during the second round of Western Amateur stroke play qualifying. And leader Dawson Armstrong has a two-stroke lead at 11-under-par 133 entering the 36-hole grind that will determine the Sweet Sixteen advancing to match play. The full report on the News page.
Pettersen, 15, wins Illinois Women's Open
Rockford amateur Madasyn Pettersen scored a career-best 6-under-par 66 to win the 21st Illinois Women's Open at Mistwood Golf Club with a total of 8-under-par 208, good for a five-stroke margin over. amateur Brooke Ferrell and pro Chelsea Harris. The full report on the News page.
Cooke wins 66th Illinois Open
Amateur David Cooke's 9-under-par 63 and total of 16-under 199 won the 66th Illinois Open on Wednesday. He scored a five-stroke victory over Vince India, doing so while remembering his younger brother Chad, who died playing him in a pick-up basketball game last December. The full report on the News page.
Spieth does it again at the Deere
Jordan Spieth won his second John Deere Classic in three years, and once again in a sudden-death playoff. His par on the second hole of sudden death ended a dramatic day which saw him come back from a four-stroke deficit against journeyman Tom Gillis. The full report on the News page.
Spieth has the look of eagles about him
With a pair of eagles, the second a dramatic hole-out from 105 yards, Jordan Spieth roared into the lead in the 45th John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis. Spieth, at 17-under 196, has a two-stroke lead on Danny Lee, last week's winner, entering the final round. The full report on the News page.
Spieth makes his presence known at Deere Run
Jordan Spieth scored 7-under-par 64 to climb into contention, and Justin Thomas grabbed sole possession of the lead halfway through the 45th John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis. The full report on the News page.
Thomas, Thompson lead 100 par-breakers at Deere Run
While world No. 2 Jordan Spieth scored even par 71, 100 players in the John Deere Classic finished the first round ahead of him at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, led by Justin Thomas and Nicholas Thompson at 8-under-par 63. The full report on the News page.
Bill Murray turns back the clock at Deere Run
D.A. Points didn't mind playing second-fiddle to his pro-am partner on Wednesday at TPC Deere Run. When Bill Murray's on the course, things have a way of happening. The on-the-scene report is on the News page.
Illinois Golfer's July digital edition: A John Deere Classic preview, the IG Challenge, and more!
July's digital edition of Illinois Golfer, available here, features a preview (and history) of the John Deere Classic, five pages of coverage of the 27th Illinois Golfer Challenge Junior Golf Championship, reports on the 46th Illinois Junior, the 96th CDGA Championship, the 19th Palmer Cup, and much more. There's even a look back at the real origin of the modern Grand Slam, and Luke Cella's column about bees. This issue is buzzing!
IG Challenge Junior: Barker repeats, Mikula, Snyder, Hollatz capture titles
Click here for a report on Gehrig Hollatz's victory over Michael Barber in the Boys 16-to-18 Division.
Click here to read about Christian Snyder's success in the Boys 13-to-15 Division.
Click here for the amazing story of the playoff that saw Kelly Barker repeat in the Girls 16-to-18 Division.
Click here for the report on Jane Mikula's victory in the Girls 13-to-15 Division.
Click here for all the scoring from all four divisions.
Illinois Golfer's June digital edition features Jerry Rich and Rich Harvest Farms
Click here to view and download the PDF of the June digital issue of Illinois Golfer, full of features and news: There's nowhere else like it in golf. Now Rich Harvest Farms takes center stage again with this month's Palmer Cup and August's Western Amateur, the latest in a long line of big tournaments in Jerry Rich's backyard.
Also in June: Reports on who's gotten the call to the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame, Illinois' failed bid for the NCAA Championship, the amateur team's comeback in the Radix Cup, the Illinois PGA Match Play, the Joliet Amateur, and more!
IG Challenge Junior at Glenwoodie is July 1
Entries are now closed for the 27th Illinois Golfer Challenge Junior Golf Championship on Wednesday, July 1 at Glenwoodie Golf Course. Pairings will be released on Monday or Tuesday, available here and e-mailed to all competitors. It'll be a great day!
Illinois Golfer's Digital Edition for May features top-ranked Illini men's team
Click here to view and download the PDF of our May digital edition, featuring a cover story on the No. 1 Illinois men's team and the amazing practice facility that Mike Small brought to life. It also includes a Radix Cup preview, reports on the Kevin Streelman's win in the Masters' Par-3 Contest and that of a 9-year-old from Glenview in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, coverage of the Will County Amateur, news of changes to Harbor Shores, a preview of the Radix Cup, and more, including the most complete public course directory in the state.
Click here for April's issue, featuring a season preview, review of 2014, reports on the Illinois Open's move to two sites, the BMW Championship's 2018 plan for Philadelphia, a look at Illinois' connections to Augusta National, and more.
Please note you have to be an Issuu member – there's free registration – to download at the moment.
Billiter wins IPGA match play crown
It took 21 holes, and it ended with a bogey, but Jim Billiter, assistant pro at Merit Club, beat Mistwood's Brian Brodell for the Illinois PGA's match play title on Thursday at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. The full story is here.
Egan, McNair, Sobb elected to Illinois Golf Hall of Fame
An eminent amateur from the turn of the last century and two longtime professionals with disparate but sterling resumes form the 16th class of the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame, elected Wednesday night at The Glen Club. Click here for the news of the election of H. Chandler Egan, Leon McNair and Jim Sobb.
Golf at the movies: Review of "The Squeeze"
We don't hand out stars or point thumbs, but we do review movies and books. The latest of the former is "The Squeeze," in wide VOD release on Friday. Our review is on the News page.
Radix Cup Guide:
The all-time roster is downloadable HERE.
Welcome to our new look
It's been three years since the Illinois Golfer website was launched, and it was time to sweep out the dust bunnies. Expect more in the coming weeks, but for now, check out the new April digital edition of Illinois Golfer, just a download away!
Miller leaving Illinois PGA for SW PGA
Michael Miller is on the move. The 20-year executive director of the Illinois PGA Section has accepted the same position for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Southwest PGA, it was announced today. The move is effective on May 1. The search for a successor will be "a fairly long process," section president Jim Opp said. Details on our News page.
Aronimink approves 2018 BMW to Philadelphia
As expected, Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia accepted on Wed., March 4 the WGA's offer to play the 2018 BMW Championship, numerous news organizations in the Philadelphia area report. The shift would take the tournament to the eastern seaboard for the first time. More on our News page.
Illinois Open sees double: two courses in 2015
The Illinois Open moves to Royal Melbourne and Hawthorn Woods country clubs this July, in a bid to increase the purse by increasing the field. The field will be 258 rather than 156, which is expected to encourage more players to try to qualify. More on our News page.
Illinois Golfer's 2015 Western Amateur digital edition
Click here to download the August electronic ediiton of Illinois Golfer, a 15-page PDF with complete coverage of the Western Amateur, a look back at the life of WGA educational guru Jim Moore, a report on Emily Collins' big win in the Illinois Women's Open, and advice for the PGA of America on how to keep the U.S. Public Links Championships going.
Special Illinois Open e-magazine available
Click here for a special 6-page PDF e-edition of Illinois Golfer, focusing on this week's Illinois Open and including photos and final scoring and statistics. It's the most complete coverage of the victory by Brad Hopfinger you'll find!
Below, here are a few golden oldies for the history buffs among our readership.
LPGA returning to Rich Harvest in 2016 with the eight-team International Crown
Writing from Chicago
Thursday, January 24, 2013
The 2009 Solheim Cup drew 35,000 people a day for three days to Rich Harvest Farms, the secluded course on the Sugar Grove estate of tycoon and golf nut Jerry Rich. Thrilled with the response even before the first ball was struck in anger, Rich proposed a team tournament with international flavor to be held at his course on a regular basis.
A sponsor was sought. A sponsor was thought to be found in Navistar.
Then the deal dried up, victim of the Great Recession, and Rich shelved the idea.
Today, it came off the shelf. The LPGA announced a team tournament, the International Crown, with the second edition to be played at Rich Harvest in 2016. The field will include 32 players from the top eight golf nations, as ranked by the Rolex World Rankings. It will be played every other year, in the year that Solheim was not played. The first will be played at Caves Valley Golf Club, near Baltimore, in 2014. The full story is on the News page.
– Tim Cronin
Orrick captures IPGA Players, Malm nets 2012 Player of Year
Steve Orrick, head pro at the Country Club of Decatur, won the Illinois PGA Players Championship on Tuesday on Eagle Ridge Resort's North Course. Curtis Malm, an assistant at St. Charles Country Club, tied for sixth, but clinched the Player of the Year award. Details on the News page.
Lake Bluff's Skinner edged in 2012 U.S. Senior Am final
Curtis Skinner made it all the way to the final of this week's U.S. Senior Amateur, but was beaten, 4 and 3, by Paul Simson of Raleigh, N.C., in the championship match.
Skinner, 55, ran into a hot golfer in the 61-year-old Simson. He was 10-under-par across Wednesday's quarterfinal and semifinal matches, then took a 3-up lead in the championship match at Mountain Ridge Golf Club in West Caldwell, N.J. after 12 holes, and cruised from there. On the 13th, Skinner, from Lake Bluff, failed to make an 18-foot birdie putt, while Simson saved par out of a bunker.
"He hit a phenomenal sort of flop shot," Skinner told USGA.org. "I hit a putt that I thought I had made, but that was a little too hard, so that was probably the turning point."
Simson is an old hand at senior golf. A three-time British Senior Amateur champion, the insurance agent was playing in his 55th USGA championship. Skinner knocked off a pair of former U.S. Senior Am winners on the way to the final. As balm for losing, he receives exemptions into next year's U.S. Senior Open and U.S Amateur, and a spot in sectional qualifying for next year's U.S. Open.
For more details, see USGA.org.
– Tim Cronin
Troyanovich’s playoff birdie takes IWO title
Friday, July 27, 2012
The putt was no more than four feet, set up by a big drive, big hybrid second shot and delicate chip on Mistwood Golf Club’s 506-yard par 5 third hole.
Also known as the first playoff hole Friday in the 18th Illinois Women’s Open.
Also known, after amateur Samantha Troyanovich drained the birdie putt, as the only playoff hole.
Troyanovich, from Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., won the three-way playoff over Brittany Mielbrecht of Gulf Stream, Fla., and amateur Samantha Postillion, who grew up in Burr Ridge. The runners-up each parred the redesigned hole, neither matching the sterling approach Troyanovich authored.
“I’ve never won a tournament before,” the recent graduate of Tulane exclaimed.
She has now, and while she’s remaining an amateur for the moment – and returning to Tulane to work on a masters degree – she may turn pro down the line. This time, she missed out on the $5,000 first prize a pro would have collected. That went to low pro Mielbrecht, who missed a five-footer on the 18th hole to win outright.
It was Postillion who was playing for history of a sort. Her mother Kerry won three IWOs.
“That’s always been in the back of my mind when I’ve played here,” Postillion said. “I’ve always wanted a chance to win.”
Scoring three-under-par 69 in the final round on the recently remodeled Romeoville course gave her the chance. Troyanovich also scored 69 to total 1-under 215, while first round co-leader Mielbrecht scored 70 to make the playoff.
Flossmoor’s Ashley Armstrong, the low Illinoisan, tied for fourth with Brittany Johnston of Akron, Ohio, a stroke out of the playoff at 2-over 216.
The purse was jumped to a record $25,000 on Friday, which should auger well for another jump in the size and quality of the field next year. That’s a large purse for one of the few state opens in the country. The IWO had 93 entries, compared to around 500, including those failing to qualify, for the Illinois Open, a field populated exclusively by men. Last week’s tournament at The Glen Club had a purse of $85,000.
– Tim Cronin
Lucas, Miller tied entering IWO final round
Thursday, July 26, 2012
It is one of the more crowded leader boards entering the final round in Illinois Women’s Open history.
A tie for the lead between a young pro and an even younger amateur. Nine players within three strokes with 18 holes to play.
And one more round at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville awaiting them.
The leaders going into the final round of the IWO’s 18th edition are amateurs Nora Lucas of Chicago and Stephanie Miller of Wauconda, Lucas recently graduated from Illinois, while Miller will be entering Illinois in the fall of 2013.
Miller’s host on her recruiting trip in Champaign? Lucas. Golf is a small world.
They finished Thursday’s second round at 1-under-par 143, Lucas by shooting an even par 72, Miller a stroke higher.
They’re a stroke ahead of Colleen Cashman-McSween of Ann Arbor, Mich., whose 1-under 71 could have been much better, and Brittany Johnston of Akron, Ohio. They’re at even par 144 and set to play in Friday’s penultimate twosome. Right behind them a 1-over 145 are amateur Liz Nagel of DeWitt, Mich., and Lauren Mielbrecht of Gulf Stream, Fla. Mielbrecht added a 75 to her opening 70.
Cashman-McSween made the best move of the leaders, but ...
“I hit it inside 10 feet seven times today, and only made two of them,” Cashman-McSween said. “All of the putts would have been for birdies.”
Among those at 2-over 146 is Flossmoor’s Ashley Armstrong. The amateur who will enter her sophomore year at Notre Dame next month knocked off Lucas in the first round of the recent North and South Women’s Amateur in Pinehurst, N.C., and knows something about comebacks. She rallied at this time last year to win the Women’s Western Junior at Flossmoor Country Club.
The comeback of the day was authored by Kathy Sterling of Mokena. The sophomore at Louisiana-Monroe opened with an 85, but scored 1-under 71 on Thursday to secure a spot in the final round. The cut fell at 15-over 159 and encompassed 41 players. The winner, if a professional, will collect at least $5,000 from the purse of approximately $18,000.
– Tim Cronin
Trio tied at 71 in Illinois Women's Open
Writing from Romeoville, Illinois
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Rare has been the golf tournament where the shrill sound of the power saw has lived in harmony with play on the course.
This year's Illinois Women's Open is that tournament. Construction on the learning center at Mistwood Golf Club is continuing even as the IWO, with founder Phil Kosin's name attached to it for the third year, is conducted.
So far, the two opposites are in concert. The racket caused by the second phase of owner Jim McWethy's revitalization of the course hardly bothered those who were concentrating, including first round tri-leaders Stephanie Miller, Brittany Johnston and Lauren Mielbrecht.
They scored 2-under-par 70 on the 6,249-yard layout, and are a stroke clear of amateurs Liz Nagel and Nora Lucas entering Thursday's second round.
Miller, a Wauconda resident who enters her senior year at Stevenson High School next month, is the only amateur among the three leaders. She authored the shot of the day by slamming a 60-yard wedge into the cup for eagle on the par-4 10th hole, then birdied the 11th to move to 3-under before slipping back to 2-under for the day.
She would be the solo leader but for the recent change in the IWO eligibility rules that opened the tournament players like Johnston and Mielbrecht, from Ohio and Florida respectively. The two fledgling professionals saw an opportunity to chase the $5,000 first prize from a purse that could reach $18,000, and so far are doing so with alacrity.
But each, as well as Miller and Nagel, reproved the point that Mistwood always makes: Get your birdies early, for the home stretch is a beast.
"From the 12th to the 18th, I couldn't get any putts to go in," Mielbrecht said. "At the end it got hot, and it was windy in parts."
Mielbrecht's last birdie came at the 11th hole. Johnston made for birdies and said she missed another six birdie putts under 10 feet. Nagel bogeyed four straight holes beginning at the 13th after sinking birdie putts of 6, 25 and 2 feet on the previous three holes. She was 5-under at the time and three clear of the others, then came back to earth.
A quartet of four players is at 1-over 73, and includes amateur Ashley Armstrong, the only player in the field who played in this year's U.S. Women's Open. Armstrong is coming off a semifinal appearance in the North and South Women Amateur.
Defending champion Jenna Pearson scored 3-over 75. The most notable of a handful of withdrawals was that of Winnetka's Elizabeth Szokol, who had been expected to contend.
Thursday's second round, which determines the cut to the low 40 percent of the field, will used both tees in the morning in an attempt to dodge expected foul weather in the afternoon.
– Tim Cronin
The heat’s on at Illinois Women’s Open
Writing from Chicago
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
More often than not, the Illinois Women’s Open is beset by ridiculous weather conditions. There have been thunderstorms, tornado warnings, floods, high winds, and heat.
Everything has hit the IWO but the 17-year locust.
Heat is on the menu for Wednesday’s first day of the 18th IWO, the third to be played with the name of founder Phil Kosin attached. The late proprietor of Chicagoland Golf sank real money into the tournament over the years, and the payoff has come in the high regard those who have succeeded him in running the tournament care for his baby.
Mistwood Golf Club owner Jim McWethy is foremost in that regard. He loved the idea of it, kept it at Mistwood after Kosin’s untimely death, and put his staff to work building it.
The result is a $15,000 purse, sponsorship for the second year by BMO Harris Bank, and a 93-person field. The mercury is expected to pass that number by midday and hit 100 – which at Mistwood means even hotter, for certain areas of the course retain heat as efficiently as a blast furnace – but with the first threesomes beginning at 7 a.m., perhaps the majority of the field will miss the worst of it.
Defending champion Jenna Pearson of Wheaton tees off at 8 a.m., with Carbondale’s Diane Daugherty, the champion of the inaugural playing at Odyssey Country Club in 1995, in the group immediately following.
The field is studded with a large number of current collegians and recent graduates. Among the former in the field are Ashley Armstrong of Flossmoor, who won this year’s Big East Conference title as a freshman and topped that by playing in the U.S. Women’s Open, former Homewood-Flossmoor teammates Michelle Mayer (Illinois), Ryann Gilley (Southern Illinois), and Marian Catholic’s Bree Veazey. Recent Illinois graduate Samantha Sloan of Lansing, like Veazey from Marian, also figures to make an impact.
There are 23 professionals in the field. They and the 70 amateurs in the field will, if they discount the temperature, think they’re at last week’s British Open if they hit into one of the revetted – or side-stacked – bunkers that now dot the Mistwood course. While architect Ray Hearn was generous with allowing a way out, that way out isn’t always forward. The smart player who finds herself in one of the new bunkers will be wise to find the safest way out.
Admission to the IWO is free. Unlike past years, a new parking lot, part of McWethy’s $6 million improvement program, will have ample room for both competitors and spectators.
– Tim Cronin
Scodro outlasts Meierdierks for Illinois Open title
Writing from Glenview, Illinois
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
There are 17 holes at The Glen Club, but for Max Scodro and Eric Meierdierks, everything came down to the par-5 18th hole in the final round of the 63rd Illinois Open – four times.
The first time, Scodro, trailing Meierdierks by a stroke, dropped an uphill 12-footer for birdie to match his opponent and force a playoff.
The second time, Scodro flirted with disaster on his third shot, but it stayed on the fringe, and he escaped with a par, matching Meierdierks. The duo matched pars again the next time, and they again trudged back to the tee.
The fourth time, Meierdierks’ occasional penchant for hooking a tee shot to the right came back to haunt him. He had done so the first time they played 18 in the playoff, but escaped from the high rough and and tree blockage to make par and play on.
Not this time. His tee shot found the high gunch, his hacked second nearly ended up under a tree, and it took two more shots to reach the green. Scodro two-putted for an easy par, the title, and the $17,000 first prize.
“I’d had my fair share of trouble on 18,” Scodro said. “The second day, I hit my 3-iron in the water.”
Not this time. Playing safe and staying out of big trouble brought him the championship, which stunned him.
“If you’d have told me I’d have a shot coming down the last hole, and then win in a playoff ... I’m in a little bit of shock now,” Scodro said.
Scodro’s birdie of the 18th in regulation was the spark for all the drama.
“I willed that one in,” Scodro said, grinning.
It was as good a putt as the one Meierdierks had on the 18th the second time they played in the playoff. His 15-footer dropped in the right side of the hole, and spun out, a cruel twist for him.
“I was about to fist pump, and it didn’t go in,” said Meierdierks, who settled for $12,000 as balm from the prize fund of $85,500.
The winner in 2010, Meierdierks flirted with going for the 18th green in two in regulation, when he knew Scodro, who had laid up, was the only player with a shot at him. He decided to lay up as well, taking the pond that fronts the green out of play.
“I don’t second-guess that,” Meierdierks said. “I feel I can putt the shot off, and I’d try in different circumstances, but in this case, he has to take it from me.”
Meierdierks settled for a two-putt par compared to Scodro’s dramatic birdie, and it was off to the playoff. Both birdied the first hole, a downwind par-5, parred the par-3 17th, and then went to the 18th to settle the matter.
Scodro, a recent graduate of Notre Dame who prepped for the Illinois Open by winning the Arizona Open, scored 3-under-par 69 to make the playoff, Meierdierks scoring 70 to also finish at 10-under-par 206. At one point, he led Scodro by three strokes, with others between them, but three straight bogeys turned the tide, and they jockeyed for position the remainder of regulation. They were three strokes ahead of Carlos Sainz, Travis Johns and amateur Brett Tomfohrde, who was 1-under for the Open on the 12th tee, then played the final seven holes in 6-under for a 69 and total of 7-under 209. Tomfohrde’s last eight holes: 3-3-4-3-3-3-3-4.
Defending champion Philip Arouca tied for sixth at 6-under 210.
– Tim Cronin
Welcome to Illinois Golfer!
Writing from Chicago
Monday, January 30, 2012
A hearty welcome to Illinois Golfer, dedicated to coverage of the game in Illinois and beyond. While our name has the state in it, we're interested in all things golf, inside and outside the borders of the Land of Lincoln, and especially so when Illinoisans, either native or adopted, are involved.
This website will incorporate all the previous posts from our GolfInChicago.wordpress.com website. Click on Golf In Chicago for those. For the latest news, click on News.
Watch this website for much more in the days to come! And thanks for stopping by.
– Tim Cronin