LIV Tour will return to Chicago after all — but at a new site

Colorful banners are a big part of the atmosphere at LIV Golf events. (Joy Sarver Photo)

MIAMI, Florida – The Chicago area will have a major professional golf tournament this year after all.  The LIV Golf League is returning, but not at Rich Harvest.

Jerry Rich, owner of the Sugar Grove private club that hosted LIV events in 2022 and 2023, invited the fledgling Saudi-based circuit to return this year but has since decided it’d be best to give his club members a year’s break from the distraction that hosting a pro tournament usually requires from a host club.

Rich deemed the two LIV tournaments conducted at Rich Harvest successful, and they had high profile champions.  Australian Cameron Smith won the first event and Bryson DeChambeau was the champion last year. That added to DeChambeau’s Illinois success story that is starting to rival that of Hale Irwin.

Irwin, basically retired from professional golf now, won the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah, the 1975 Western Open at Butler National and three Champions Tour events at Kemper Lakes.

DeChambeau won 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields, the 2017 John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis and last year’s LIV event at Rich Harvest. DeChambeau can’t defend there.

Three LIV staffers at the circuit’s stop at Trump Doral privately confirmed that the circuit is returning to Chicago this year for one of the two season-ending tournaments on the circuit’s 14-event season.

“An announcement will be coming soon,’’ said one.

Both tournaments are considered majors for LIV players and will be played in September. Last event with a site on the 2024 schedule is at West Virginia’s Greenbrier Aug. 16-18.

Dates and sites for the final two events haven’ t been announced. One is the individual championship, the other the team climax to the campaign. One source at Trump Doral said the individual final would be in the Chicago area.

Both the PGA and LIV tours had Chicago tournaments in 2023.  The PGA isn’t scheduled to return until the President’s Cup is held at Medinah in 2026.

Meanwhile, both the PGA Tour and LIV conclude their competitive tuneups for next week’s Masters on Sunday. Leader of the LIV event after Saturday’s 36-hole stop  at Doral is Spain’s Sergio Garcia, a former Masters winner who has yet to win on the LIV circuit. He’s at 9-under-par 135.  Tied for second, two strokes back, are Talor Gooch, Tyrrell Hatton, Dean Burmeister and Matthew Wolff.

“This course (Doral’s Blue Monster) and Valderrama (in Spain) are the toughest courses we’ll play this year,’’ said Garcia.  “I’m happy to be out there and try to win tomorrow.’’

Picking the Masters winner is getting even more difficult

 It’s a golf tradition like no other.  The Masters – first of the year’s four major championships — is coming up next week.

That means for me – and many of you – it’s time to predict the champion.  That fun competition is much more difficult in golf than any other sport. I covered my first Masters in 1986 and am sure I entered winner’s pools for years before that.  My success record isn’t impressive – only two winners, Fred Couples in 1992 and Scottie Scheffler in 2022.

This year the prognosticating is more difficult. Blame the controversial LIV Golf League for that.  The three-year old Saudi-based circuit has its detractors, at least based on the mild hate mail that I usually receive when there’s a LIV mention in one of my pieces. Some even comes from friends who should know better.

Scheffler is the comfortable choice this year, what with his March wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship and a runner-up last Sunday in Houston. An excellent lead-in to the year’s first major by an excellent player.

I’m going in a different direction this year, though.  I’m predicting a LIV player will win – though you’ll have to read a few more paragraphs to find out who.

LIV has the numbers.  Last year, when the PGA Tour and LIV players gathered for the first time in a big tournament, the fledgling circuit had three of the top six finishers.  Brooks  Koepka and Phil Mickelson tied for second behind Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed tied for fourth. And now Rahm is a LIV member, too, but still without an individual victory on his new tour.

LIV has 13 players in this year’s Masters.  Twelve were exempt based on the club’s rules for determining  invitees.  Augusta National selectors also gave a special invitation to Joaquin Niemann. LIV players don’t get respect in the Official World Golf Rankings, a policy that greatly diminishes their significance.

Niemann, from Chile, beat the system with strong showings in two big non-LIV events, winning the Australian Open and tying for fourth in Dubai. He won two of the first four LIV events this year as well.

The LIV roster includes seven former Masters champions and has six players who are exempt from all four of the major championships.

I also like the fact that LIV, with only 14 tournaments in 2024, has one of its biggest ones the week before the Masters.  It runs Friday through Sunday on the Blue Monster course at Trump Doral in Miami.  Finding it on TV won’t be easy, but Doral is a former PGA Tour site.

“It’s the first big boy golf course that we’ve played this year,’’ said Koepka, who followed up his Masters runner-up by winning the PGA Championship last year.  “You’ve got to be able to ball-strike it (at Doral) and ball-strike at Augusta.  That’s why it’s such good prepare.’’

Seven LIV golfers have been the champion at 10 Masters. Mickelson won in 2004, 2006 and 2010 and Bubba Watson was the titlist in 2012 and 2014. Based on their play this year they don’t have a chance this time. Charl Schwartzel (2011), Sergio Garcia (2017) and Reed (2018) don’t have much of a chance, either, but defending champion Rahm and Dustin Johnson do.

Johnson won the Masters in 2020 with a record 20-under-par score.  The only drawback was that it was during the pandemic, the event was played in the fall instead of the spring and spectators weren’t allowed on the course.

In 2017 Johnson was playing his best golf, with three wins leading into the Masters, but he took a fall while in Augusta and withdrew from the tournament a day before it started.  That freak accident still haunts him.

“Without that I’d have two green jackets instead of one,’’ he said before a small media group last week. “I had a fantastic prep going into that week. I’ve never felt unbeatable but, when I’m on the course and playing my best, I don’t feel anyone can beat me.’’

At 39 he can still play.  He dominated the LIV season in 2022, tailed off last year but has a LIV victory this season and competing against his former PGA Tour rivals again is inspiring.

“The majors are the pinnacle of the sport,’’  said Johnson, “and there’s only four times we’re all together playing now. Maybe that makes them more special.’’

That’s good enough for me. I’ve got great respect for Johnson’s talent. I’ve picked him informally to win other tournaments over the years when he didn’t do it.  Now it’s the Masters, though, and DJ’s going to win this one.


Malnati an emotional winner at Valspar tourney

Peter Malnati uses a yellow golf ball to win the Valspar tourney. (Joy Sarver Photo)

PALM HARBOR, Florida — The winners at PGA Tour events are frequently emotional, but Peter Malnati was in tears immediately after his last putt dropped at the Valspar Championship on Sunday.

Malnati, 36, won his second title nine years after his first.  He had qualified for only three major championships and never made it to the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

This year he had four missed cuts and only one top-10 finish while doubling as a recently-named Player Director on the PGA Tour Policy Board. That has put him in the forefront of the complicated negotiations over the proposed merger with the Saudi-based LIV Golf League.

While that’s a time-consuming extra job Malnati had been better known as one of the few players to use a yellow golf ball.  He switched from white to yellow balls because one of his sons “liked them.’’

“He’s gotten over it now,’’ said Malnati, holding one son while fighting back tears during his first post-round televised interview.  “But it still makes me think of him.’’

Malnati, along with his wife Alicia, attended the University of Missouri before Peter turned pro in 2009. They have two sons – Hatcher and Dash. They were more in the spotlight at the Valspar, which offers an unusual opportunity for players to put what they want on their caddy’s bibs.  Malnati chose honor his sons.

Keith Mitchell started the day with a two-stroke lead on Malnati, who was in a three-way tie for second.  Mitchell faded to a 77 in the final round while Malnati shot 67 and won by one stroke over Cameron Young. Malnati posted a 12-under-par 272 for the 72 holes and earned $1,512,000.

“That moment of winning a tournament and have your family come out on the green, the big hugs and all that, that’s something I’ve seen other families have and that has been my dream,’’ said Malnati.  “ There’s been a lot of stretches in golf over the last nine years when I wondered if I’d ever have that experience. It feels completely surreal.’’

Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman, who led the tournament after Round 1 and was tied for the lead after Round 2, shot 73-72 on his weekend rounds and finished in a tie for 28th with, among others, Northwestern alum Dylan Wu. It was Streelman’s best finish of the season. Defending champion Taylor Moore tied for 12th.


Mitchell masters Snakepit to lead third round of Valspar

Kevin Streelman, PGA Tour veteran from Wheaton, got off to a fast start in the Valspar Championship before cooling off in the third round. (Joy Sarver Photo)

PALM HARBOR, Florida – The story lines in the first three tournaments of the Florida Swing were certainly different than the one developing in the last one.

The most notable things in the Cognizant Classic of the Palm Beaches, which opened four PGA Tour events in March, was a name change for the tournament (it has been the Honda Classic for decades) and a first-time winner in Austin Eckroat.  Scottie Scheffler ruled the next two, dominating the Arnold Palmer Invitational and making history in becoming the first repeat champion in The Players’ 50-year history.

Concluding the Swing was the Valspar Championship, played on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. The emergence of veteran players in contention seemed the theme for a while.

Stewart Cink, 50, and Kevin Streelman, 45, played in the final group in Saturday’s third round.  Cink has making his 19th appearance in the tournament, one off Brian Gay’s record 20, and made his 500th cut on the PGA Tour.  Another veteran, Lucas Glover, was in the tourney for the 19th time and was one shot off the lead after 36 holes.

Streelman led solo after shooting a 7-under-par 64 in the first round and was in a five-way tie for the lead after the second.

He had won his first PGA Tour event on Copperhead in 2013, so that seemed a good place for him to get a much needed career boost.

And it was – for a while.

Hampered by a back injury suffered while hitting a shot out of the rough in California’s Farmer’s Insurance Open in February, Streelman made only one cut – a tie for 32nd place in Puerto Rico —  in his first six starts of 2024.

His luck changed when he got to Copperhead, though. Streelman led solo after shooting a 64 in Thursday’s first round and was tied with four others for the 36-hole lead.

Paired with 50-year old Stewart Cink in the final group on Saturday, Streelman got off to a great start, two-putting for birdie on the par-5 first hole. After that, it wasn’t much of a day. His third-round 73 dropped him into a tie for 18th entering Sunday’s final round.

Streelman wasn’t much in the mood to talk about it afterwards, but he didn’t rule himself out of contention, either.

“I’ve just got to attack,’’ he said.  “I was only 2-over (on Saturday) and I’m 6-back.  I’ve just got to focus on golf on the range and tighten things up.’’

With that he headed for the range in hopes of challenging for the lead on Sunday. Keith Mitchell owns it at 10-under-par 203.  Mitchell owns a two-stroke lead on Seamus Power, Mackenzie Hughes and Peter Malnati.

Mitchell finished birdie-birdie-eagle to cap off a 7-under 64. He holed a 7-iron from 190 yards for his eagle to conclude his spectacular finish on Copperhead’s famed finishing holes, dubbed the “Snake Pit.”

“I looked up and something flew in my eye, so I looked away and never saw it come down and land,’’ said Mitchell of his last shot of the day.  “It’s an elevated green, so I wasn’t going to see it go in anyway, but I didn’t even see it come down next to the flag.’’

Defending champion Talor Moore is tied for 34th and Arlington Heights’ Doug Ghim tied for 55th.  Sam Burns, who won the tournament in 2021 and 2022, and reigning British Open champion Brian Harman were among those missing the cut when the weather-delayed second round was completed early Saturday.



Can Scheffler play any better than he did at Bay Hill?


Which version of Scottie Scheffler do you like better — the winner at Bay Hill in 2022 (left) or the one who dominated the API this year?

ORLANDO, Florida — The Arnold Palmer Invitational was a wonderfully competitive event through 54 holes, but not during Sunday’s final round at Bay Hill. In fact, this latest Signature Event on the PGA Tour was downright boring, and you can blame Scottie Scheffler for that.

Scheffler was just too good on a beautiful day, carding the low round of the tournament – a 6-under-par 66 that propelled him to a 72-hole total of 15-under 273. That was good for a five-shot advantage on runner-up Wyndham Clark, but Scheffler led by as many as seven before his last putt dropped.

With a $4 million payoff from a $20 million purse, Scheffler climbed from second to first in the FedEx Cup standings. He won for the seventh time on the PGA Tour and had the widest victory margin in the API since Tiger Woods in 2012.  Scheffler didn’t dwell on his good fortune, though.

“I just stayed in my own little space and tried to keep pushing,’’ he said.

The final 18 started with Scheffler and Shane Lowry tied for the lead at 9-under but the tie didn’t last for long.  Scheffler birdied No. 1, Lowry made bogey – a quick two-shot swing.  Lowry, who finished third,  also made bogey on the second hole and was never a contender again. In truth, no one was.

Scheffler won the API for the second time in three years, but his victories were much different.  He won the first in 2022 with a one-shot margin over joint runner-ups Billy Horschel, Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland and posted a 72-hole score of 283 – 10 shots higher than his latest win.

A month after his first win at Bay Hill Scheffler won the Masters. He’s playing better now.

“It would be borderline unfair if he started putting really good,’’ said Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion.  “I never want to wish ill on anybody, but if he starts putting positive each week he’s going to be really hard to beat.  He’s the best player in the world right now.’’

Rory McIlroy was impressed, too.

“Scottie has been super consistent week in and week out every time he tees it up,’’ said McIlroy.  “It’s incredible.’’

Luke Donald, a former world No. 1, echoed that to conclude his two-week stint on the NBC broadcast team.

“He was so, so consistent,’’ said Donald.  “The road to success has so many ups and downs in construction but there were no ups and downs for him today. He was in cruise control all the way.  He did everything well, and that’s not easy when you’re leading a golf tournament.’’

In his API title defense in 2023 Scheffler tied for fourth behind surprise winner Kurt Kitayama, who missed the cut in his own title defense this week.

Scheffler will be gunning for a much better showing next week at The Players Championship, the third event of the four-tournament Florida Swing.  It tees off on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra. Scheffler’s 2023 victory in The Players was his most recent victory until his blowout romp at Bay Hill on Sunday. The Players turns 50 years old this week and no player has been a repeat champion.


Two crazy days at the Arnold Palmer Invitational; Now what?

Max Homa, Sam Burns and Viktor Hovland (left to right) had similar routines for  putting at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  Facing the hole, they’re straddling the line of their putts to determine the slope of the green. Call this dance-like movement the “Meter Mash?”

ORLANDO, Florida – The second and third rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational couldn’t have been more different.

Six players – Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Scottie Scheffler and Wyndham Clark – were tied for the 36-hole lead, and that was the most co-leaders after 36 on the PGA Tour since the Valero Texas Open of 2010.

That was an impressive leaderboard for the PGA Tour’s latest Signature Event, too, with Harman the reigning British Open champion and Clark the owner of the U.S. Open crown.

Saturday’s third round was different, but had its own type of craziness with constant leaderboard changes.

Will Zalatoris was great early, making four birdies in his first eight holes and opening a five-shot lead after 11. Then he staggered in, making two bogeys before a brutal double bogey on the last hole.

“You play 42 holes of bogey-free and you take it,’’  said Zalatoris, now tied for fourth but just two strokes off the lead.  “Obviously the finish wasn’t what I wanted.  That’s just Bay Hill.  I’m still in the ball game, as frustrating as it was to finish up that way.’’

Three spectators stood out among those following Nick Taylor (left) and Max Homa.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy — an early starter — was spectacular on the back nine.  He became the first player ever to drive the green on the par-4 tenth, a 365-yard dogleg right, and that gave him the momentum to play the back side in a record 6-under-par 30.

“The difference between the front nine and back nine? Eight shots!’’ said McIlroy.  “I just didn’t have any momentum. Then the three on 10 with the tee shot on the green, that got me going.’’

McIlroy salvaged a 68, a boost after finishing outside of the top 20 in his last three starts. He’s tied for eighth, four shots off the lead.

The rivals’ problems enabled Scheffler, tourney champion in 2022, and Lowry to claim a share of the 54-hole lead.  Like McIlroy, Scheffler finished strong with birdies at 12, 13, 15 and 16. His 2-under-par 70 on Saturday wasn’t spectacular but it put him at 9-under 207 for three rounds.  Lowry, the first-round leader, matched his 70 with birdies at 16 and 17. They’re one swing ahead of Clark, who made bogey on his last hole.

“Here you’ve got to think your way around and stay patient,’’ said Scheffler.  “You can make some mistakes, and it’s all about how  you bounce back from them.  I’m just doing a good job of staying in my head space on the greens.  Going to the back nine today I did a really good job of just staying in it as much as I could.’’

Winner of the Masters in 2022, Scheffler will defend his title in The Players Championship next week at another Florida course, TPC Sawgrass.

Justin Thomas wasn’t happy with a chip shot, and it showed in his immediate reactions. (Joy Sarver Photos)



LET Tour starts a team series in Florida with Saudi ties


Charley Hull, Carlota Ciganda and Lexi Thompson (left to right) are among the stars in the Aramco Team Series season opener. Ciganda is the defending champion. (Joy Sarver Photos)

CLEARWATER, Florida – The scheduling for the Aramco Team Series opener was unusual, its opening event being slated opposite the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational just an hour away in Orlando.

With a teeoff Friday on International Women’s Day, the Aramco event is unusual enough.  Imagine a women’s team event — one put on by the Ladies European Tour (LET) with $1 million in prize money provided by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which also bankrolls the controversial men’s LIV Golf League — being played on American soil.

After this tourney concludes on Sunday the series will have stops in South Korea, London, Asia and Saudi Arabia.

This women’s tourney at Feather Sound Country Club has a stellar field. The 82 players come from 24 countries and own 39 wins on the European Tour, nine on the LPGA Tour and three in major championships.

Though it’s an LET event, the field includes American stars Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lincicome, Marina Alex and Megan Khang.  Top Europeans are England’s Charley Hull and Bronte Law and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, who won the tournament last year at Trump International in West Palm Beach, FL.

Ciganda and Alex were the only ones among those hotshots to show top form in Friday’s Round 1.  Both carded 6-under-par 66s to share the lead with Chloe Williams, of Wales, and Kim Metraux, of Switzerland.

Defending champion Ciganda had a great start (birdies on the first two holes) and a solid finish.  “I birdied three of my last five holes.  I’m very happy,’’ she said.

This year’s tournament was under the radar because lining up a U.S. site was a  slow process.  Feather Sound wasn’t assured of hosting until five weeks ago, a very short time for tournament preparation. First-round play was also slow, reaching 5 ½ hours at the end of the day on Friday.

This event, though,  is being contested in four-player teams (of three pros and one amateur) for two days.  It’s the only team series on any of the pro golf tours.

After 36 holes the top 60 pros will compete for individual prize money in Sunday’s final round with no qualms about going head-to-head with the $20 million Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of the “elevated’’ events on the PGA Tour schedule.




Rosemont show is `unofficial’ start to Chicago golf season

Carrie Williams, the executive director of the Illinois PGA, has no problem calling this week’s 39th annual Chicago Golf Show “the unofficial kickoff to the Chicago golf season.’’ That is what it has become for more than three decades.

The annual mid-winter event begins its three-day run on Friday (FEB 23) at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. All the major Chicago golf organizations are involved with the Chicago District Golf Association expanding its role in its third year as the event’s presenting sponsor.

Attendees will be greeted by a panoramic view of a new CDGA Town Square that will cover 11,000 square feet and encompass, among other things. two side-by-side Longest Putt competitions.

The CDGA is also partnering with Best Hole-in-One to present a new Break the Glass Challenge in the new club Demo Day area.  Attendees will also be offered a free round of golf courtesy of GolfVisions, which operates 14 area courses.

Show hours are noon-6 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday.  Adult admission is $7 on Friday and $12 on the weekend days. For youth 12-15 it’s $4 all days and those under 11 will be admitted free.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Batavia-based club manufacturer Tour Edge is lamenting the Achilles injury that sidelined its prime ambassador, Bernhard Langer.  Langer was set to defend his title in the Chubb Classic, a Florida event in which he tied Hale Irwin’s record PGA Tour Champions 45 victories in 2023.

Langer, 66, took sole possession of the record by winning last year’s U.S. Senior Open and had announced plans to make his last appearance at the Masters a few days before the injury sidelined him indefinitely.

The Chubb event was shortened from 54 to 36 holes when rain deluged the Tiburon course in Naples last Sunday. Stephen Ames was declared the champion after the course was deemed unplayable

Finishing in a tie for second was Mark Hensby, who has a sterling record in Illinois. He won the Illinois State Amateur in 1994, the Illinois Open in 1996 and the John Deere Classic in 2004.

HERE AND THERE: Illinois will again be limited to three local qualifiers for the men’s U.S. Open but berths in the finals of the U.S. Women’s Open will be on the line at Briarwood, in Deerfield, on May 13. That’s the first of 13 non-local qualifiers for U.S. Golf Assn. championships to be conducted by the CDGA this year.

Pine Meadow, in Mundelein, hosted successful Illinois PGA Super Senior championships for men in recent years.  Now Pine Meadow will hold one for women Aug. 27-28.  It’ll be conducted in age-based flights – 60-64, 65-69, 70-74 and 75 and over.

Jeff Kawucha, who had been at Oak Brook Golf Club, is now the head professional at The Preserve at Oak Meadows in Addison.



Ghim coped with the rowdy Phoenix golf crowds

Doug Ghim developed his golf skills first growing up in Arlington Heights and he progressed all the way to the PGA Tour.  Last week he even put himself in position to win for the first time at the WM Phoenix Open.

Ghim got off to a good start, shooting 65 in the first round.  In the second he was pelted with beer cups after he made birdie at the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, and he was tied for third place after seven holes when darkness halted play in Saturday’s weather-delayed third round.

So far, so good. The Phoenix crowds are known for being big and boisterous.  Last week’s was even more so.  The tourney reported crowds nearing 250,000 for the week, and that was deemed a PGA Tour record. At the par-3 No. 16 hole the fans were particularly unruly, to put it mildly.

Even the usually mild-mannered Zach Johnson, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, snapped at them,  he was saying he was “sick of it’’ and to “just shut up.’’

Ghim hung on through the craziness to tie for 12th, his best finish in four starts this year and an indication his game is taking shape after missing the cut in his first two tournaments.  Ghim tied for 13th the previous week at the Farmer’s Insurance Open. Phoenix was a bigger money event, and Ghim pocketed $187,000.

His thoughts on the impact of the rowdy weekend crowds weren’t recorded but they may have affected Northbrook’s Nick Hardy, who has had a solid start to the season.  He survived all five cuts and was hovering in the top half of the leaderboard at Phoenix until shooting a 78 in the final round,

The always gentlemanly Luke Donald, the European Ryder Cup captain, didn’t survive the cut at Phoenix but got an indication what his Euro squad might experience when the Ryder Cup is played on American soil in 2025.

“This tournament was a nice precursor to what New York and Bethpage might feel like,’’ said Donald. “It’s quite the atmosphere, the rush, the intensity. There’s nothing quite like the energy you feel as a player playing (in Phoenix).’’

SHOW TIME: Nick Anderson, the former University of Illinois basketball star, and long-time NFL place-kicker Robbie Gould will be featured at the 39th Chicago Golf Show, which has a Feb. 23-25 run at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

Anderson will be on the show’s Main Stage on both weekend days to promote his Flight 25 Foundation partnership with the Chicago District Golf Association Foundation. Gould, a CDGA ambassador, will also be appearing on the show’s Main Stage.

HERE AND THERE:  Ghim won’t play in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles this week.  That’s where Tiger Woods will make his season debut.  Hardy will be in the field there.

Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman, battling a back injury the last three weeks, had hoped to return at Phoenix – the PGA Tour stop closest to his Arizona home.  He didn’t make it, though, and will also miss the Genesis stop.

Jamie Nieto, formerly head professional at The Preserve at Oak Meadows in Addison, is now assistant professional at The Fox in St. Charles.

The U.S. Golf Association has announced Illinois’ three local qualifying sites for the men’s U.S. Open – Stonewall Orchard, in Grayslake, on April 24; Cantigny, in Wheaton, on April 29; and Illini Country Club, in Springfield, on May 13.









Back injury sidelines Streelman on the PGA Tour

Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman has been the Chicago area’s most successful PGA Tour player since joining the circuit in 2008, and has $26.7 milllion in career winnings to show for it. This season, though, hasn’t started well.

Now 45, Streelman has been one of the circuit’s most durable players but this season started with missed cuts at the Sony Open and American Express Championship. Last week’s  Farmer’s Insurance Open was even more painful however.

Streelman shot 71 in the first round, then withdrew. He later tweeted that he had “strained something in my lower back badly.’’ The injury happened when he hit a wedge shot out of heavy rough. He won’t be playing in this week’s AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the next stop on the West Coast swing.  That’s an event Streelman has played well in. He finished inside the top 20 as an individual every year since 2016 and was the runner-up in 2020.

He also teamed with football player Larry Fitzgerald to win the team title in 2018 and 2020, leading Streelman to call Pebble Beach “my favorite stop on tour.’’

Streelman lives in the Phoenix area now.  “I hope to rest for a week and hopefully be 100 percent for the Waste Management (Phoenix Open). One of the most popular tournaments on tour, it’s two weeks away.

HARDY’S HOT: Northbrook’s Nick Hardy is off to the best start of the Chicago connected players.  He made the cut in all three of his starts, the best finish being a tie for 37th at the Farmer’s Insurance Open last week.  He’s in the field at Pebble Beach.

Arlington Heights’ Doug Ghim had missed cuts in his first two starts but bounced back with a tie for 13th at the Farmer’s. He didn’t enter the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

LIV GETS GOING: The LIV Tour, which added Masters champion Jon Rahm to its roster for its third season, opens its 14-tournament campaign in Mexico on Friday. Rahm also brings in his own team, with Tyrrell Hatton the most notable of the other three members. That’ll boost the field from 12 to 13 teams.

LIV shifted its pre-Masters tourney from Florida to Trump Doral in Florida in March, leaving Chicago’s chances of having an event this season in serious jeopardy.  Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, hosted tournaments in the fledgling circuit’s first two campaigns and owner Jerry Rich invited the tour back for 2024 but the invitation hasn’t been accepted yet.  The only hopes left are for Rich Harvest to be picked for one of LIV’s two season-ending events in September. No sites have been announced for those.

SHOW TIME: The Chicago Golf Show returns to the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont Feb. 23-25.  Show hours will be noon-6 p.m. on Feb. 23, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. On Feb. 24 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m.on Feb. 25.  Tickets are $7 for adults and youth 16 and over on Friday and $12 on the weekend days.  Rates will be $4 on the weekend for youth 12-15 and there’ll be free admission for those 11 and under.

PGA SHOW AFTERMATH: Two frequent winners in International Network of Golf contests – John Iacono of Zero Friction and David Glod of club manufacturer Tour Edge – were successful again in the ING Industry Awards presented Thursday at the 71st PGA Show in Orlando, FL.

Both Chicago area companies were honored in the Product Ingenuity categories, Iacono for his just-introduced Stride remote control golf bag and Glod for his company’s latest driver model.

The ING Media Awards were also announced, with Steve Kashul’s Golf Scene topping the television show category.  The Chicago area also had four Outstanding Achievers in the Media Awards – Dave Lockhart (TV show), Ed Sherman (features), Rory Spears  (radio) and Len Ziehm (features).