Len Ziehm On Golf

Sluman starts this PGA Champions’ season close to his new home

The signage is up and the players have arrived at Broken Sound for PGA Champions’ first big event.

Jeff Sluman has been Chicago’s lone representative on PGA Tour Champions for the last 10 years but things are different going into the circuit’s first full-field event this week.

“I’m a resident of Florida now,’’ said Sluman. “We live eight months here and summer up in Chicago. We love that city but I got tired of being cold and my golf game suffered tremendously.’’

The New York-born Sluman and wife Linda set up a base in Hinsdale in the early 1990s, when Jeff was a regular on the PGA Tour. They sold their place in the suburbs two years ago, moved to Chicago’s River North area and will still be there in the summer months. Home, however is now officially in Delray Beach, Fla., which is just a few miles from the Boca Raton Championship. That 54-hole event tees off on Friday at Broken Sound Golf Club.

While Sluman has long been a Chicago guy, he has ties to Delray Beach, too. Four years ago he supervised the renovation of Seagate Country Club there and represents that facility on the 50-and-over circuit.

“It’s got a beautiful golf course, a hotel, a beach club, a yacht club,’’ said Sluman. “Some friends from Rochester, N.Y., own it. It’s nice here. I like putting on shorts and walking on the beach. I worked 40 years so I could do that.’’

Wintering in Florida has Jeff Sluman ready for another PGA Champions season.

Sluman has enjoyed a solid career on both the PGA and Champions circuits. At 30 he won the PGA Championship at Oklahoma’s Oak Tree Course and just before his 40th birthday he won at Tucson, which triggered victories in seven more events world wide including four on the PGA Tour.

At 50 he became eligible for the Champions Tour and won the first of his six titles there a year later. Had he performed better in playoffs — he lost six PGA titles in extra holes and is 0-3 in Champions playoffs – his record would be even more impressive.

Now 60, Sluman believes he’s still got some good years left and this year’s schedule includes the first PGA Champions’ major event in the Chicago area in 21 years. The Senior Players Championship will be played at Exmoor, in Highland Park, in July and Sluman would love to be a factor there.

“There’s a big difference between being 50 and 60 on this tour. It’s like the difference from being 25 to 35 on the PGA Tour,’’ he said. “You’ve just got to be fortunate and not get any major, major injuries. That’s another reason I wanted to get out of that cold weather and be warm all the time. I’m taking it a year at a time, but I’d say I’ve got two-three real good years left in me.’’

TEN BROECK ADVANCES: The 78-man starting field in the first full field event on PGA Tour Champions will have a familiar name for Chicago golfers. Lance Ten Broeck was low man in Monday’s qualifying round for the Boca Raton Championship, shooting a 3-under-par 69 at the nearby Prreserve at Ironhorse course.

Ten Broeck, who grew up in Chicago, was the caddie for PGA Champions veteran Jesper Parnevik in recent years but competed when possible. Now 61, Ten Broeck played in 355 PGA Tour events and 61 tournaments on the Champions’ circuit. He tied for ninth at the 2012 U.S. Senior Open.

Earlier in his playing career Ten Broeck won the 1984 Illinois Open and became the second family member to do it. Brother Rick won in 1973 and 1981. A third Ten Broeck brother, Jim, was the Illinois State Amateur winner in 1968.

IT’S SHOWTIME: Friday marks more than just the start of the first full field event for the PGA Champions circuit. It’s also the kickoff to three straight weeks of golf shows in the Chicago area.

First is the Tinley Park Golf Expo, which runs through Sunday at the Tinley Park Convention Center. Show hours are noon-6 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 on Friday and $10 on the weekend days.

Tenco Events, owner and operator of the Tinley Park show, will also present the Northern Illinois Golf Expo at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Grayslake from Feb. 16-18.

Biggest and oldest of the winter attractions is the Chicago Golf Show, which runs Feb. 23-25 at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. The Chicago Show was first held in 1962 and has been based in Rosemont since 1990.

Pat Bradley, the U.S. Women’s Open champion at LaGrange Country Club 37 years ago, is now aiming for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open trophy, to be awarded at Chicago Golf Club in July. (USGA Photo)

SENIOR WOMEN’S COUNTDOWN: Chicago Golf Club, in Wheaton, will host the first-ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July and the excitement started to build when the U.S. Golf Association unveiled the championship trophy last week in Miami. At 13 pounds it’ll be the heaviest of the four U.S. Open trophies to be presented by the USGA.

The USGA also announced that the trophy is 22 inches high. Entries will open on March 5 for women 50 and over with handicap indexes not to exceed 7.4. The USGA also announced the that there will be 120 players competing for a $1 million purse at Chicago Golf Club.

“It was a magical moment to see that beautiful trophy. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to compete for it’’ said Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, who won the U.S. Women’s Open at LaGrange Country Club in 1981. “I’ve been waiting 17 years to have this championship on our schedule.’’

Bradley is a regular competitor on the LPGA’s Legends Tour. Amy Alcott, another Hall of Famer, doesn’t compete much any more but that may change. Calling the new trophy “stunning’’ and “very classy,’’ Alcott said “I’m working on my game with Chicago in mind.’’

Biancalana’s return to golf centers on Illinois Senior Open

This is somewhat of a tradeoff. The Chicago area golf community will regain one popular name from the past but will lose another once the snow melts.

The returnee is Roy Biancalana. He’s decided to return to the Chicago area and make a run at one of the few state titles he didn’t win in his heyday. Biancalana won the Illinois PGA Junior Championship in 1977, the Illinois State Amateur in 1983 and the Illinois Open in both 1987 and 2001. He was also the Illinois PGA Player of the Year four times between 2003 and 2007.

Then family issues coupled with frustrations over three seasons on the PGA Tour led Biancalana to leave golf. He got involved first in church work and – over the last 10 years – has been a relationship coach in Florida.

“I work with single people who don’t want to be,’’ said Biancalana. “I’ve had two passions – one in the psychological world and one in the golf world.’’

Now he will combine the two. He will return as a teacher at St. Andrews, in West Chicago, where he worked from 2001-07 and also – at age 58 – plans to return as a competitive player.

“Supposedly my skill level should be dropping off dramatically, but we’ll see about that,’’ said Biancalana. “I don’t feel that way at all, and I’m looking forward to battling it out with the young guys and mixing it up with Mike Small.’’

Small, the University of Illinois men’s coach, has dominated the Illinois PGA tournaments for nearly two decades and Biancalana’s biggest goal is to win the Illinois Senior Open. They could battle it out for that title.

“I want to win (Illinois titles) at every phase. I want my own personal grand slam,’’ said Biancalana, who has played in only one major tournament – the U.S. Senior Open qualifying — in the last 10 years and also underwent heart, shoulder and wrist surgery during that period.

“I’m totally excited about teaching again at St. Andrews and getting in my competitive chops, too,’’ said Biancalana. “I’ve really missed playing, and there’s nothing like competing.’’

Medinah loses Tyrrell

Curtis Tyrrell, the superintendent who got Medinah’s No. 3 course ready for the 2012 Ryder Cup matches, is heading to Florida. He’ll become director of golf course operations at Bonita Bay Club near Naples.

In his 10 years at Medinah Tyrrell led major renovations at all three of the club’s 18-holers as well as the practice range. At Bonita Bay he’ll oversee five courses, three of which are targeted for renovations.

Tyrrell departs Medinah 18 months before the club is scheduled to host the 2019 BMW Championship.

Conway back on tournament calendar

Conway Farms competed its three-year run as host for the BMW Championship last September but the Lake Forest private club won’t be out of the tournament scene for long. Conway is among the confirmed sites for next year’s qualifying sessions for the first-ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

The first U.S. Golf Association national championship for women in the 50-and-over age group will be played at Chicago Golf Club, in Wheaton, from July 12-15. Conway’s elimination is June 18. Conway will join some select courses from around the country in hosting qualifiers. Other sites include Pine Needles, in North Carolina; Olympic Club, in California; Scioto, in Ohio; and LPGA International, in Florida.

Here and there

Glenview’s Frank Morley has been named to a two-year term as chairman of the Western Golf Association. A member at Conway Farms and North Shore in the Chicago area and other clubs in Florida, Montana and Ireland, Morley will lead the WGA’s Evans Scholars Foundation after moving up from a vice chairman’s role.

Cantigny, in Wheaton, has been named the winner of the Youth Development Award by the National Golf Course Owners Association.

VIP registration is now open for the May 30 Illinois Patriot Day event at Medinah.

Carol McCue will be remembered as the First Lady of Chicago Golf

A memorial service has been scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 29 at Donnellan Funeral Home in Skokie to honor the memory of Carol McCue, a long-time leader in the Chicago golf community. She died on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the age of 94.

Long known as the First Lady of Chicago Golf, Miss McCue joined the fledgling Chicago District Golf Association in 1942 and retired as its executive director in 1982. While serving in that position she was named the first president of the International Association of Golf Administrators in 1968.

After retiring from the CDGA Miss McCue became the marketing director for Jemsek Golf, operator of several Chicago courses including long-time PGA Tour site Cog Hill in Lemont.

She was one of the first women in the golf industry to hold such a high-profile leadership role, and Dennis Davenport, who succeeded McCue as the CDGA executive director, called her “the gold standard for golf administrators.’’

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Carol’s passing,’’ said Robert Markionni, the current CDGA executive director. “She was a true pioneer and leader in golf administration, not only in Chicago but throughout the nation. Many of the programs that Carol initiated, such as public golf membership and computerized handicapping, revolutionized golf administration and set the stage for the innovative technology we use today. Her legacy will live on.’’

During her time with the CDGA Miss McCue was also instrumental in creating the Illinois Open, which made its debut in 1950 and is now conducted by the Illinois Section of the Professional Golfers Assn.

Prominent in Chicago golf in one capacity or another for over 70 years, Miss McCue was in the inaugural class when the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame was created in 1989.

Hensby provides explanation

Mark Hensby — a former Illinois Amateur, Illinois Open and John Deere Classic champion – has issued a statement on the one-year suspension he recently received for failing to provide a urine sample for a drug test required by the PGA Tour.

Hensby, 46, was asked to take the test after shooting a first-round 78 in the Sanderson Farms Championship in October. Feeling he could not produce a urine specimen at that time, he left the premises with the intention of taking the test before his second round the next day.

“I made a terrible decision to not stay around that event to take the urine test,’’ said Hensby in his statement. “Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don’t call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves.’’

Hensby received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring about why he didn’t provide the urine sample prior to the suspension announcement.

“I showed poor judgement in not responding,’’ Hensby said.

Here and there

Rich Harvest Farms owner Jerry Rich is assured that his private club in Sugar Grove will remain a high-profile layout for tournament play. Rich Harvest had been selected to host the Western Junior Championship in 2019, the Big 10 Championship in 2020 and – most recently — the Palmer Cup in 2021. RHF previously hosted the Palmer Cup matches in 2015.

Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman has signed a two-year contract extension with Wilson Sporting Goods. Streelman, who has $16 million in PGA Tour winnings, first signed with the Chicago-based equipment manufacturer in 2011. The new agreement will run through 2019.

Wisconsin’s Sand Valley, the latest golf resort created by Chicago’s Mike Keiser, has achieved an impressive double in its first season. Golf Magazine named it the “Best New Course You Can Play’’ and Golf Digest selected the facility as its “Best New of 2017.’’ Keiser plans to open two more courses at Sand Valley in May – the par-3 Sandbox, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and Mammoth Dunes, a David McLay Kidd design.

Q-Schools provide a boost for Hopfinger, Troyanovich

The lengthy, very demanding qualifying sessions to determine next year’s players on the PGA Tour, Ladies PGA Tour and PGA Champions circuit came to an end over the weekend with two Chicago hopefuls — Brad Hopfinger and Samantha Troyanovich — putting themselves in position to further their golfing careers in 2018.

Lake Forest’s Hopfinger, one of only seven players to own titles in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open, is assured a spot in the first eight tournaments on the PGA’s satellite Web.com Tour next season. Troyanovich, who won the 2012 Illinois Women’s Open as an amateur, earned conditional status on the LPGA circuit.

Getting as far as they did wasn’t easy. The Q-Schools for both circuits are complicated, nail-biting affairs that span nearly four months. On the men’s side, there are three pre-qualifying tournaments that start in August in Texas, California and Nebraska. Those events determine who fills out fields in the Stage I eliminations, which were played at 11 sites around the country in October.

The survivors of Stage I played in one of the five Stage II events, each of which had about 80 players, and those survivors went to the final stage. Some players had exemptions through the early stages based on past performance, but Stage III started with 144 players and ended after 72 holes on Sunday in Chandler, Ariz., with Hopfinger finishing just one stroke better than two other prominent Chicago players – Deerfield’s Vince India and Elgin’s Carlos Sainz Jr.

That one stroke made a big difference, however. Hopfinger, by virtue of finishing at 14-under-par 274 and in a tie for 42nd place, is assured a spot in the first eight Web.com Tour events of 2018. Then there’ll be a re-shuffle of players.

Hopfinger played frequently on the Web.com in 2017, earning $30,904. While he will be in a better position to get into tournaments in 2018, he’ll have to get off to a good start to keep playing. Still, he’s in a much better position than India, his former college teammate at Iowa, and Sainz, the 2016 Illinois Open champion.

India, who was third overall in the Web.com qualifying in 2016 but didn’t earn enough money in 2017 to retain his card, shot 63 in the third round of the Q-School’s third stage on Saturday and Sainz, who spent much of this season on the PGA’s Latinoamerica Tour, had a solid 66-67 finish on the weekend.

That’s great golf, but both still finished at 13-under-par for the tournament and in a tie for 57th place. They will likely need to go through Monday qualifiers to get into next year’s tournaments. And that’s only to play on the PGA Tour’s satellite circuit. Make it to the PGA Tour proper has demands even more stringent than that.

Addison’s Tee-K Kelly, in his first season as a pro after a strong collegiate career at Ohio State, also made it to last week’s Stage III but an 80 in the first round doomed his chances at advancement. Kelly, though, had a promising rookie season. He won an event on the Latinoamerica circuit and had five top-10 finishes while finishing seventh on the circuit’s order of merit.

Troyanovich, who now resides in Michigan, also had to endure three stages to get her LPGA playing privileges. She tied for 38th of 144 players in Stage I, which was contested in California. The top 90 advanced, and she tied for 68th among 165 players in Stage II in Venice, FL., with the top 80 moving on to the final stage.

The final, played over 90 holes at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, FL., had 361 finalists. Troyanovich tied for 32nd place and that will be enough to get into at least a few 2018 tournaments without enduring a qualifying round.

Troyanovich has had only limited playing time on the LPGA circuit (three missed cuts in as many starts in 2017) and its satellite Symetra Tour. Next year she’ll be able to play more on both circuits.

One Chicago player, Lance Ten Broeck, was in the PGA Champions qualifying tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz. A former PGA Tour regular, he finished in a tie for 23rd place and needed a top five finish to get fully exempt status on the 50-and-over circuit. He figures to return to his job as a caddie on the PGA circuit in 2018.

A first for the Illinois PGA; Rhoades gets highest honor

For the first time in 62 years the Illinois PGA’s most prestigious award has gone to a woman.

Carol Rhoades was named the IPGA’s Professional of the Year, an award presented annually since 1955 to the section member whose “total contributions to the game best exemplify the complete PGA Professional.’’

Rhoades works at Golf Channel Academy Chicago and also teaches at Cog Hill, in Lemont. Born in Pennsylvania, her previous Chicago connections included a stop at Olympia Fields Country Club and a stint as head women’s coach at Illinois-Chicago.

A past LPGA Professional of the Year and one of Golf Digest’s Top 50 Women Instructors, Rhoades captured three previous IPGA honors – the Bill Strausbaugh Award (2002), Player Development Award (2008) and Horton Smith Award (2010).

Two representatives from both Cantigny, in Wheaton, and Exmoor, in Highland Park, were also recipients of 2017 section honors. Patrick Lynch and Greg Barasel of Cantigny received the two Player Development Awards and Exmoor’s Dave Schmaltz (Merchandise of the Year-Private Facility) and Nick Cuca (Assistant Professional of the Year) were Exmoor’s honorees.

Todd Sones, from White Deer Run in Vernon Hills, received the Horton Smith teaching award for the third time in 14 years.

Going collegiate

The University of Illinois men’s team, which reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championship last May at Rich Harvest Farms, finished fifth in the season-opening Olympia Fields-Fighting Illini Invitational last weekend and the Northwestern women’s team, which was the national runner-up at Rich Harvest to conclude the 2016-17 campaign, was second in its first tournament, the Dick McGuire Invitational in New Mexico, and fifth in its second — last week’s Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville.

Olympia Field also provided the season debut for the Northwestern men’s team, which finished 13th. Playing without U.S. Amateur runner-up and Walker Cup star Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, Texas finished eighth at Olympia Fields.

Northern Illinois opens its men’s season by hosting the 12-team Northern Intercollegiate at Rich Harvest Sunday and Monday. The tourney at Olympia is the only home event on the Illini schedule. The only home event for the Northwestern women is the Windy City Classic Oct. 2-3 at Northmoor, in Highland Park, and the lone home appearance for the NU men is the Oct. 8-9 Windon Memorial at Evanston Golf Club.

Here and there

One record, though unofficial, was set in the BMW Championship at Conway Farms on Sunday. Wesley Bryan played by himself in the final round in 1 hour 28 minutes, shooting a 69 in the process. The previous, unofficial, fastest round on the PGA Tour was Kevin Na’s 1 hour 59 minutes in last year’s Tour Championship.

The 2018 Chicago golf calendar will be almost as busy as this year’s but there’s one problem. The tournament organizers apparently didn’t talk to each. Exmoor will host the Constellation Senior Players Championship, a major event on the PGA Champions circuit, from July 12-15. The first-ever U.S. Women’s Senior Open will also be played on those same dates at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton and the John Deere Classic, Illinois’ only annual PGA Tour event, is also scheduled at the same time at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis.

Chicago’s Mike Keiser has named the second course at his Sand Valley facility in Wisconsin. The David Kidd design will be called Mammoth Dunes. Keiser also said a unique par-3 course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, has been completed and will be available for play by next June 1.

Tom Kearfott, of El Paso, won the 31st Illinois Senior Amateur, dethroning two-time winner Tom Miler, of Kewanee, at Seneca’s Oak Ridge. Miler finished second, three shots back. Kearfott will also go into the final event in the Chicago District Golf Association season as the defending champion. He’ll partner with Tim Sheppard in the CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball at Itasca Country Club Oct. 2-5.

The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame’s next induction ceremony will be Oct. 27 at The Glen Club, in Glenview. Gary Groh, Gary Hallberg and Horton Smith, the first Masters champion, will be the honorees.

Billy Casper Golf has been selected to manage the Aberdeen course in Valparaiso, Ind..

Conway Farms will remain a popular tournament site after BMW leaves

BMW’s white motif has been a pleasant feature at Conway Farms’ tournaments.

Conway Farms’ three-year run as the site of Chicago’s PGA Tour event comes to an end this week, after the last putt drops at the BMW Championship on Sunday.

The previous two local PGA Tour sites were longer-time hosts. Butler National, in Oak Brook, hosted the Western Open from 1974 to 1990. Cog Hill, in Lemont, took over in 1991 through 2011. Neither has hosted a big event since, but that won’t likely be the case with Conway Farms.

The Western Golf Association pulled the Western out of Butler after its exclusionary membership policies (it remains an all-male club) made it unacceptable to the PGA Tour. The WGA shifted its biggest tournament – it was the Western Open through 2006 and then, after a sponsor and format change, became the BMW Championship – from the south suburbs to the north in an effort to freshen the event.

Conway Farms has been a good host in an era much different than when Butler and Cog Hill were involved. The WGA opted for a rotation in and out of Chicago in alternate years, a measure that produced more financial benefits for the Evans Scholars program. Conway hosted only every other year, starting in 2013.

The section beside the 18th green is the first reserved seating offering at the BMW Championship.

The shift to Conway created a big change in spectator viewing for Chicago golfers. Cog Hill was a premier public venue with loads of room for parking and other tournament operations. Conway, which opened in 1991, was a younger venue by two decades. While it didn’t have the space Cog Hill did, Conway had a glamorous side, with Luke Donald one of its members.

Donald at one time was the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, and he wasn’t the only Conway member with a familiar sports name. The club’s members have also included former Bears’ lineman Olin Kreutz, ex-Blackhawks’ player and general manager Dale Tallon and Scott Sanderson, who had pitched for the Cubs.

Designed by the highly respected course architect Tom Fazio, Conway has proved to be a worthy tournament site. Before the PGA Tour arrived the club hosted, among others, the U.S. Junior Amateur, Women’s Western Junior, NCAA Division I men’s championship, a U.S. Open sectional, the Western Amateur and a U.S. Mid-Amateur.

The PGA Tour players found it a decent challenge but not overly tough. Zach Johnson won the first BMW there in 2013 with a 16-under-par performance, but he wasn’t the sole star of the show. Jim Furyk shot a 59 in the second round before Johnson overhauled him with a final round 65 to beat Nick Watney by two strokes. Furyk finished third, another shot back. That tourney required a rare Monday finish, as steady rain allowed for only 12 of 60 players to complete their 72 holes on Sunday.

The second Conway BMW in 2015 was the Jason Day show. He tied the PGA Tour 36-hole record, opening 61-63 before winning by six shots over Daniel Berger with a 22-under-par performance for the 72 holes.

More low scoring is expected when the 11th BMW Championship tees off on Thursday. No matter the results, the relationship with the WGA has been a satisfying one for the Conway Farms membership.

“We’re thrilled to have the tournament back in Chicago,’’ said Conway president Bob Terwall. “We like the idea of a less than full field. I’m not sure we would want a 156-player field (which the Western Open had)) in the middle of the summer.’’

He also liked the idea of the tournament coming only every other year rather than being an annual thing.

“Three times in five years was fine, a little less taxing for all staff members,’’ he said. “Leaving Chicago every other year is great four golf. If we had it every four years or six years, that would be great. We’d very much like to remain part of the rotation.’’

The “rotation’’ is very much uncertain now. Aronimink, in Pennsylvania, will host in 2018 and the famed No. 3 course at Medinah is to host in 2019 when the tournament returns to the Chicago area. After that the BMW tourney locations have not been announced.

Vince Pellegrino, the WGA’s vice president for tournaments, called Conway “a wonderful club’’ and didn’t rule out a return in future years. In the meantime, Conway won’t likely be idle as a tournament site.

“We’re supportive of championship golf, amateur or professional,’’ said Terwall. “There’s been a lot of dialog involved. We’ve talked to the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Assn.) and USGA (U.S. Golf Assn.). We want to continue to be on the radar.’’

He wouldn’t rule out Conway as being the alternate site for the Illinois Open, either. The Illinois PGA needs two courses for its biggest annual event, with The Glen Club a fixture and the other chosen on a rotating basis.

“We did the U.S. Mid-Amateur (2012) with Knollwood, and that worked out fine, so we’re open to those sorts of things,’’ said Terwall. “We’re very much wide open. That’s the way to really support the game, rather than just talk about it.’’

Streelman won’t be able to play in his hometown PGA Tour event

There’s only one bad thing about the upcoming BMW Championship — the climax to Chicago’s golf tournament season. Kevin Streelman won’t be there.

The Wheaton product, last of the players with Chicago connections in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, got off to a great start in the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston last week but couldn’t keep the momentum going.

Needing to hold a spot in the top 70 in the FedEx point standings, Streelman faded in the final two rounds on Sunday and Monday and wound up No. 86 on the point list. That brought an end to his 2016-17 season.

Only 70 players will be in the BMW Championship, the third event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. That $8,750,000 event will be played Sept. 14-17 at Conway Farms, in Lake Forest.

Streelman had a bad start in golf’s postseason series, shooting 74-80 to miss the cut in the first tournament – The Northern Trust in New York. His No. 90 ranking at that time, though, still got him into the 100-man field in Boston and his 70-65 start there elevated him into a tie for second place through two rounds at the Dell Technologies Championship.

At that point Streelman was projected to jump all the way into the top 30 who would qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta — the event that follows the BMW Championship on the schedule. A shaky final two rounds, though, killed Streelman’s hopes. He finished 74-73, ended in a tie for 35th in the tournament and his all-important FedEx ranking plummeted enough to put him out of his hometown PGA Tour stop.

Losing four shots to par in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 5-9, Streelman dropped 14 places in the final round in Boston.

“Obviously I would have loved to get to Conway and see some of my buddies,’’ said Streelman. “It would have meant a lot for me to get there.’’

Joining him on the sidelines will be two of the sport’s biggest names – Bubba Watson and Adam Scott. They also failed to climb into the top 70 at Boston. Justin Thomas won the Dell tournament, Dustin Johnson was the champion in New York and Jordan Spieth finished second in both events. That trio will be the favorites when gates open at Conway on Sept. 12.

Here and there

Illinois Women’s Open stars Samantha Troyanovich and Samantha Postillion survived last week’s first stage of the Ladies PGA Tour qualifying school in California. Stage II is Oct. 16-22 in Venice, Fla., and two other Chicago players—Elizabeth Szokol and Stephanie Miller – will join Troyanovich and Postillion in the field there.

Brothers Greg and Riley Bauman, sons of Doug Bauman – long-time head professional at Biltmore in Barrington, played together in the last pairing of the final round in the 25th Illinois State Mid-Amateur at Exmoor, in Highland Park last week. Greg won the title and Riley finished in a tie for fourth.

Preparations are already underway for next year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes, in Kildeer. The club is commemorating the 25th anniversary of its first major women’s event – the 1992 U.S. Women’s Amateur — and will soon announce a name for its treacherous final three-hole stretch. The Women’s Amateur 25 years ago saw current LPGA Players Association president Vicki Goetze Ackerman defeat Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam in the title match.

Rich Harvest Farms owner Jerry Rich will host a Kids Golf Foundation Charity Pro-Am at his Sugar Grove club on Sept. 19.

The First Tee of Greater Chicago will hold a 36-hole fundraiser at Canal Shores on Sept. 29. Proceeds will support the development of a First Tee Learning Center and Short Course at the Evanston facility.

The On Par for DuPage Outing, benefitting the DuPage Country History Museum and People’s Resource Center, will be held at Arrowhead, in Wheaton, on Sept. 21.

The Tour Sponsored by Under Armour will hold its Illinois Region qualifier for its national tournament on Saturday at Calumet Country Club, in Homewood. There will be four handicapped flights with the top 10 in each qualifying for the finals on May 18-20 of 2018 in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Streelman is only Chicago player still alive in FedEx Cup Playoffs

The FedEx Cup has provided a much-needed climax to the PGA Tour season. Big money is on the line at all four of the FedEx playoff tournaments and the $10 million bonus that will go to the eventual champion is a payday that receives attention beyond the golfing world.

Still, the FedEx Cup concept has its confusing aspects as well.

Consider what happened to the three qualified players with Chicago connections at the The Northern Trust, first event of the series that concluded in New York on Sunday.

Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman had a horrible start to golf’s postseason, shooting 74-80 and missing the 36-hole cut. He managed to beat only one other player who completed 36 holes. Streelman, though, will playing in the second of the $8.475,000 tournaments in Boston this week while both D.A. Points and Luke Donald will be on the outside looking in.

Donald and Points both survived the 36-hole cut in the Northern Trust, Donald finishing in a tie for 49th place with – among others – U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka. Points had a dismal weekend, shooting 74-74 to tie for 54th.

For Donald The Northern Trust brought an end to a string of eight straight missed cuts on the PGA Tour. The slump followed his best finish of the season, second at the Heritage Classic the week after April’s Masters.

“My season’s done, a very disappointing year but my optimism never waivers,’’ said Donald via Twitter.

Donald and Points bowed out of the playoffs because they couldn’t attain a place in the top 100 on the FedEx Cup point standings. Streelman – even with his missed cut – could. Points finished 104th in the FedEx point race and Donald was 105th.

Streelman had a much better regular season than Points or Donald and — even with the poor showing in New York — still stands No. 87 in the standings. He’ll have to step up his play dramatically in the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston, though, if he’s to make the field for his hometown PGA Tour event.

The Dell tourney runs Friday through Monday, rather than the usual Thursday start, to take advantage of more available holiday time for spectators. There’ll be a week off after the Boston stop ends on Labor Day and the BMW Championship, which runs from Sept.14-17 at Conway Farms in Lake Forest.

The field in Boston has 100 players, but only 70 will move on to the BMW Championship. The survivors will be reduced to 30 at Conway Farms. Only that number will move on to The Tour Championship, last of the $8,475,000 events that wrap up the 2016-17 season.

Donald may not be playing at Conway Farms, but he’ll be there on behalf of a worthy cause. His annual Taste of the First Tee fundraiser will be held on Sept. 12 at Conway Farms with Sergio Garcia also attending as a special guest.

Here and there

The Illinois men and Northwestern women are in the select field at the East Lake Collegiate Match Play Championship, to be held Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 in Atlanta. East Lake is the annual site of The Tour Championship.

Casey Brozek, former Illinois PGA president, has left his post as director of golf at Crystal Lake Country Club to take a similar post at a 36-hole facility in Naples, FL.

Kemper Lakes’ Jim Billiter bounced back from a tough final round in the Illinois PGA Championship to share honors in Monday’s IPGA stroke play event at Calumet Country Club in Homewood. Billiter, the leader in the IPGA Player of the Year race, shot 67 and shared honors with Chris French of Aldeen, in Rockford, and Brian Carroll, of Royal Hawk, in St. Charles.

KemperSports has added another Illinois course to its management portfolio – Lincolnshire Fields in Champaign.

Streelman, Points, Donald are in FedEx Cup Playoffs — but for how long?

The busiest Chicago golf season in at least twenty years is approaching its climax. The BMW Championship is headed back to Conway Farms, in Lake Forest, next month and the Western Golf Association called on England’s Paul Casey to be the focal point of last week’s preview to the FedEx Cup Playoff event.

As per usual, the field at Conway Farms will be only 70 players and they won’t be determined until after the first two FedEx Cup tournaments. The series begins on Thursday with The Northern Trust, the new name for the New York stop. It’ll have the top 125 in the season-long FedEx point race, and the field includes three players with Chicago connects.

That trio – Kevin Streelman, D.A. Points and Luke Donald – will have to play well to stay in the competition after the first tournament. Streelman is No. 83, Points 104 and Donald 107. The top 100 in the standings after the New York event advance to the Dell Technology Championship Sept. 1-4 at TPC Boston and the top 70 after that tournament are eligible to play at Conway Farms from Sept. 14-17.

The 30-player Tour Championship concludes the series at East Lake in Atlanta from Sept. 21-24.

While Casey isn’t guaranteed a spot at Conway Farms, there’s a good chance he’ll be there. His game has thrived in both the Playoffs and the BMW Championship. Last year he finished in the top five in all four FedEx tournaments and he’s been runner-up to Dustin Johnson twice in BMW Championships – at Cog Hill, in Lemont, in 2010 and at Crooked Stick, in Indiana, last year.

“If you could make sure that (Johnson) is not in the field, that would be great,’’ deadpanned Johnson. “But I’m really excited. This (FedEx Playoffs) has built through the years. It’s a great time of the season to get hot, and I typically do.’’

Each of the four Playoff events offers a purse of $8,750,000, and then there’s a $10 million bonus to the overall champion after the Atlanta stop.

The FedEx Cup Playoffs started in 2007 and the BMW Championship is an outgrowth of the Western Golf Association’s Western Open. With fall dates it took a while for the series to catch on, and Casey still rates the four-tournament climax to the season in importance behind the four major championships and The Players Championship.

“The system is still being tweaked’’ said Casey, “but the players really enjoy (the Playoffs). It is now something which is really etched in our minds all season long and is very, very exciting for us.’’

And it’ll stay around for a while, since FedEx recently renewed its financial commitment to the series.

“That’s massive for us,’’ said Casey. “It shows what place it has within the golfing community with the professionals. It’s now very, very important to us.’’

The BMW Championship is just as important to the Western Golf Association, which uses the tournament as a major way to fund its Evans Scholarship program. The last time the BMW Championship was played at Conway Farms, in 2015, it raised $2 million for the charity.

This year’s tourney ends Conway Farm’s three-year run as tourney host. Medinah will be the site in 2019 after Aronimink, in the Philadelphia area, hosts next year.

Vince Pellegrino, the WGA’s senior vice president for tournaments, announced some new features for this year’s BMW Championship. Reserved seating will be available beside the 18th green for the first time. Visitors will also be able to participate in the Top Golf Crush experience, the first time it’s been held at a PGA Tour event. Fans can compete for prizes in a five-ball challenge on the Conway practice range during the championship.

Here and there

The 95th playing of the Illinois PGA Championship concludes on Wednesday on Medinah’s No. 1 course.

Doug Ghim received a consolation prize after his loss to Doc Redman in the dramatic U.S. Amateur final on Sunday. The Arlington Heights resident was named to the U.S. Walker Cup team, which will take on a European contingent at Los Angeles Country Club next month. University of Illinois golfer Dylan Meyer is the third alternate for the 10-man U.S. squad.

The Chicago District Golf Assn. will conduct the 25th Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship Monday and Tuesday (AUG 28-29) at Exmoor, in Highland Park.

Reaching U.S. Amateur final underscores how far Doug Ghim has come

Doug Ghim gets interviewed by Fox TV’s Holly Sonders after advancing in the U.S. Amateur.

Doug Ghim is already one of golf’s most inspiring players, no matter how his 36-hole championship match in the U.S. Amateur turns out on Sunday.

Ghim, who grew up in Arlington Heights and ranked No. 5 academically in his graduating class at Buffalo Grove High School, was a 2 and 1 winner in his semifinal match with Theo Humphreys, a Vanderbilt University golfer, at famed Riviera Country Club in the Los Angeles area on Saturday. His opponent on Sunday is Doc Redman, the runner-up in the Western Amateur at Skokie Country Club two weeks ago.

Redman, from Raleigh, N.C., is a sophomore-to-be at Clemson. He defeated another collegian, Mark Lawrence of Virginia Tech, 1-up in his semifinal.

Both Ghim and Redman will elevate their profiles dramatically through their nationally televised duel (Fox Sports, 3:30 p.m.) in California. U.S. Amateur finalists traditionally get invitations to the Masters tournament and U.S. Open as well as other choice competitions.

That underscores how Ghim’s career in golf’s big-time golf is just beginning, and the way he got to this point is a story well worth telling.

Ghim’s father Jeff got him started in golf when he was six years old. Back then it was all about practicing, not scoring. Jeff had wanted to be a professional golfer himself, but three back surgeries ended that dream. He did, though, see considerable promise in his only son.

An invitation to play in the 2018 Masters is expected to be in Doug Ghim’s future.

The Ghims couldn’t afford the private clubs in the area. Instead father and son played the more affordable public courses, especially the Arboretum layout when twi-light rates were available. They weren’t above fishing golf balls out of water hazards at times, either. Jeff has been Doug’s only swing instructor and is his caddie at Riviera.

“I’m sure there was financial stress, but I think more than anything he wanted to see if I actually loved the game,’’ Doug told the assembled media after his semifinal victory on Saturday.

The answer was a resounding “Yes!’’ Doug loved the game and worked to get better throughout his high school years. He didn’t play for the school team after his freshman year because the Ghims felt there were better growth options in national junior tournaments.

He didn’t take the usual path to the pros by making a mark in the two biggest state events – the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open – either, but he still earned enough notoriety to land at a college with a top golf program. Though nearby Illinois and Northwestern also had strong programs, Ghim wound up at Texas a year after Jordan Spieth departed that school for the pro ranks after one college season.

Jeff was giving golf lessons at the since closed Golf Nation indoor facility in Palatine then and Doug’s signing announcement with the Longhorns was held there. Only two media members showed up. I know. I was one of them.

“I always felt pretty underrated,’’ said Ghim. “My decision to go to Texas was because I was going to be associating with incredible golfers. I knew every day I’d have to put my name and game up against theirs.’’

With Spieth gone, the main teammate to look up to for two years was Beau Hossler. In previous years Texas had such stars as Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite. Now Ghim, at 21, is the man. Before his strong showing at Riviera he won the Pacific Coast Amateur so his game is peaking at a good time.

His final collegiate season may be delayed a few days because the U.S. Amateur champion gets an automatic berth on the U.S. Walker Cup team, and the U.S. Golf Association will pick nine others to play against the European team next month. Ghim looms as a good bet to make that team one way or another.

If he does win today he’ll be part of collegiate golf history. Another Texas student, Sophia Schubert, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur this year and no school has ever swept both the men’s and women’s titles at the national championship.

Ghim’s headgear at Riviera is also noteworthy. He wore a Masters cap during his semifinal match and will wear a Cubs’ cap in the final.

“I don’t take lightly how significant it is to be playing out there tomorrow and having a chance at being in the history books,’’ Ghim said. “ The great champions of this game all started here.’’

Now it’s his turn.