Logjam at the top in Illinois Open

Writing from Glenview, Illinois

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Daniel Hudson is two months removed from his golf career at Kansas. Now a pro, he has the dreams of any newly-minted professional, and so far, little to show for it.

He qualified for the PGA Tour’s Canadian circuit, the Mackenzie Tour, and play four straight tournaments in June.

Hudson has yet to play a round on the weekend. He missed the cut in all four tournaments.

He’ll make the cut, and money, this week. Hudson held a share of the lead as night fell on the rain-delayed second round of the 69th Illinois Open thanks to a second straight 4-under-par 68 that coulda, woulda, shoulda been better.

Hudson, who grew up in Western Springs and played high school golf at Lyons Township, was 11-under for the tournament standing on the 18th tee at Ravinia Green Country Club. He led by three, but not for long. He sailed his tee shot out of bounds on the par-5 and struggled to make an 8. That dropped him to 8-under to share the lead with Andy Mickelson and Brian Bullington – and eventually with amateur Brendan O’Reilly, who is 8-under through 10 holes of the second round – and brought a passel of players into the mix, and into the final round, which admits the low 50 and ties, or those within 10 strokes of the leader.

“I’d just hit a pretty good shot into 17 and almost holed that for birdie,” Hudson said. “Unfortunately I made one of the worst swings of the week on a hole where there’s trouble in that direction.”

Still, this is better than how he’s fared in Canada. He decided to pull out of this week’s tournament in the Great White North and qualified for the Illinois Open last week.

“It’s exciting I have a chance to win a golf tournament,” Hudson said. “I can’t tell you the last time that’s happened. I played a month on the Mackenzie Tour in June, felt I was playing well but didn’t get much out of it. Even this week I bet I’ve missed eight putts inside eight feet. If you want to win, especially on the PGA Tour, you’ve got to make those putts. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Mickelson, director of golf at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, added a 2-under 70 at The Glen Club to his opening 66 at Ravinia Green for a 36-hole aggregate of 8-under 136. Bullington, erstwhile Iowa standout from Manhattan in Will County, and aiming for a Tour card in the near future, posted his second straight 68 playing alongside Mickelson.

The gaggle at 8-under holds a one-stroke lead on professional Dakun Chang and amateurs Kyle Irlbacker and Matt Murlick, at 7-under 137, and are two ahead of second-year pro Kyle Kochevar entering Wednesday’s final round.

Bullington admitted to having “a rough spring,” attributing it to going through simultaneous swing and equipment changes. He realized he had to get longer or would be lapped by the field. That meant a higher swing speed with newer technology.

“I put on a lot of clubhead speed,” Bullington said. “That translates to a club or club-and-a-half less on approaches. You’ve got to trust your swing, and then you’ve got to trust it in tournaments.”

Bullington is at that point now. He qualified for the recent John Deere Classic, and while he missed the cut, fighting his way through the four-spot that Monday was an achievement.

Mickelson’s highlight of the day was the eagle that wasn’t on No. 15.

“Had 85 yards, hit a lob wedge, took one bounce, went in and came out,” Mickelson recalled. He settled for knocking in the five-footer for birdie, one of six birdies in the round.

A double-bogey on No. 3 caused by hitting into the gorse and two bogeys hurt his card, but he’s in his best position going into the final round of the state championship.

The horn to stop play sounded at 7:57 p.m., and when it did, Brendan O’Reilly stood at 8-under through 28 holes, building on his opening 67. And 2015 winner David Cooke was at 7-under with eight holes remaining in his second round.

Around the Open

The long delay – four hours at Ravinia Green and 3:42 at The Glen Club, forces the conclusion of the second round deep into Wednesday morning. Only then will the cut to the low 50 and ties be made, and then pairings, and then the final round. If there’s no more bad weather, the finish should come by 6 p.m. ... Scores at The Glen Club averaged 75.85 strokes for the in-progress second round, while the Ravinia Green crowd was at 77.59 strokes when play halted.

Tim Cronin

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