Cooke in an Illinois Open cakewalk

Writing from Glenview, Illinois

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

David Cooke is getting married on Saturday.

He was the guest of honor at one reception on Wednesday. The one for the 70th Illinois Open champion.

Cool customer Cooke may be more nervous waiting for bride Claire Corbitt to walk down the aisle at the open-air chapel in the Carolina foothills than he was tooling around The Glen Club in the course of his four-stroke victory over Nick Hardy. Cooke’s final-round 5-under 67 placed him at 13-under 203 for the three-day cruise around The Glen Club and Ridgemoor Country Club, and earned him a tournament-record first prize of $23,768.

That jackpot will take care of the honeymoon and his entry fee into PGA Tour qualifying.

Cooke is the fourth player to win the Illinois Open as an amateur and a professional, joining Rick Ten Broeck, Gary Hallberg and Gary Pinns. He won by five at Royal Melbourne in 2015 with a final-round 63.

“It’s great to win as a pro,” Cooke said. “It makes me feel like I’m heading in the right direction.”

Cooke’s game plan was simple: avoid bogey. He did, and even with just one birdie on the front side – a two-putt bird on the par-5 fifth – his lead was less than three strokes for only a few minutes. Hardy tried to put the pressure on, but even with four birdies in his first six holes he was 6-under to Cooke’s 9-under. His opening 67 at Ridgemoor was a comfortable cushion.

“I knew having a three-shot lead over a couple guys, somebody was going to have to come get me,” Cooke said. “I just wanted to make sure I didn’t come back to them, so I was just playing smart. Most important, I was just trying to stay in play and not make any silly errors.

“The back nine (4-under 32) was good.”

Hardy’s 6-under 66 was the round of the day, getting him to 9-under 207, one less than the target score he envisioned in the morning. It was still worth $13,667.

“David played great this week,” Hardy said. “He got off to a great start at Ridgemoor and never looked back. I stubbed my toe a bit on the first round and had a poor finish yesterday, and that kinda killed me. Even 10-under wasn’t going to sniff it.”

Hardy piled up eight birdies, including a kick-in birdie on the par-3 11th when his 6-iron stopped a foot from the cup, but two bogeys slowed the charge. Like Cooke, he’ll be chasing a Korn Ferry Tour card in the fall.

Mistwood head professional Frank Hohenadel took third with a 69 for 209, earning $8,319. Bryan Baumgarten and Jordan Less tied for low amateur at 6-under 210, joined by Tim “Tee-K” Kelly, who pocketed $5,960. Bloomington’s Brandon Holtz, a runner-up the last two years, was seventh at 5-under 211.

Around the Open

First-round co-leader Chris Boyle closed with a 4-over 76 thanks to a quadruple-bogey 8 on the par-4 16th. He finished tied for 34th at 4-over 220 and won $1,085. … The field averaged 72.70 strokes in the final round. … How far do players hit it today? Cooke stepped up to the back tee on the par-3 17th hole, 217 yards from the cup, and hit a 7-iron pin high.

Tim Cronin


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