Two 65s pace Western Amateur at Beverly
Golf's ever-shrinking world came to Beverly Country Club on Tuesday, and the first round of stroke-play qualifying in the 112th Western Amateur proved how small the golf globe is. Australia's Geoff Drakeford and China's Zecheng Dou take the lead into Wednesday's play after splendid 65s. The full story is on the News page.
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!
Illinois Open: It's Hopfinger!
Lake Forest's Brad Hopfinger fired a 1-under-par 71 to capture the 65th Illinois Open by one stroke over Travis Johns on Wednesday at The Glen Club in Glenview. Hopfinger totaled 6-under 210 and collected $13,500 for his effort.
A full report on our News page.
Golf loses legend Errie Ball
The most gentle man in golf is dead. Errie Ball, who played in the British Open at 16, traveled to America at the behest of Bobby Jones a few years later, played in the first Masters, had long stints as the professional at Oak Park and Butler National, and lived to tell about it for generations, died Wednesday morning, four days after entering a hospital with breathing difficulty. He was, remarkably, 103. An obituary has been posted on our News page.
Katalnic, Howard and two Barkers win IG Challenge at Glenwoodie
The scores are in from the 26th Illinois Golfer Challenge Junior Golf Championship at Glenwoodie Golf Club. Check our News page for the details on how Brett Katalnic, Rhett Barker, Nicole Howard and Kelly Barker won their divisions!
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
Upset at Medinah!
The European Ryder Cup team, invoking the memory of Seve Ballesteros, stormed back to win Sunday's singles and retain the golden trophy with a 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory. The 8 1/2-3 1/2 singles margin brought them back from a four-point deficit starting the day, which started with Rory McIlroy almost missing his tee time and ended with cheers of "Ole! Ole! Ole!" resounding across Medinah Country Club's hills.
The atmosphere at Medinah was astonishing in the hours and minutes before Bubba Watson and Luke Donald started the singles matches at the 39th Ryder Cup. On the first tee, United Center singer Jim Corneilson sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and several other patriotic songs from both sides of the Atlantic, Keegan Bradley ran over to rev up the crowd even more, and the place was packed all day. There may be 60,000 here today, if Sports Business Journal is correct. Only the minutes before the start of the Indianapolis 500 compares to this. A full report on the News page.
Nathan Smith wins his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur title
Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh beat hockey referee and cancer survivor Garrett Rank of Elmira, Ontario 1 up in Thursday's U.S. Mid-Amateur championshop match at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest. Smith captured his record fourth Mid-Am title, and collects a likely invitation to the 2013 Masters as well. Look for a complete report on the championship match shortly on our News page.
Rory McIlroy is the BMW / Western Open champion
It's everything a golf fan wanted for the final round of a big tournament: A star-studded leader board. Birdies and eagles being traded like baseball cards. Six hours of television coverage to take it all in.
And the best player of the moment winning. Rory McIlroy's 5-under-par 67 carried him to a total of 20-under-par 268 and victory on Sunday at Crooked Stick Golf Club. The full story and a complete notebook is posted on our News pages.
Sunday's TV plan: Golf Channel from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. CT, with NBC picking it up at 1 p.m. and going to the conclusion. Enjoy.
It's BMW (or do you prefer Western Open?) week at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., the course that Pete Dye built and has essentially rebuilt over the past 40 years. Defending champion Justin Rose won his title at public Cog Hill, but is defending it at private Crooked Stick, which winds around a housing development where the least flamboyant residence likely belongs to Pete and Alice Dye.
It's the third playing in Indiana, and the second in the greater Indianapolis area, the first coming at Highland G&CC in 1926.
We'll have full coverage on our news pages throughout the week. Join us!
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
In The News:
Greg Martin has won the Oak Meadows Renovation Derby. Find the details in the print edition of Illinois Golfer, and then check out the backstory on Rory Spears' "Golfers On Golf" website: http://spears.golfersongolf.com/
Len Ziehm, the traveling golfer, finds an Alabama course worth finding the a little town of Sylacauga. Copy this into your browser to read Len's tale: http://lenziehmongolf.com/travel-destinations/farmlinks-finds-its-time-for-a-change/
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