Len Ziehm On Golf

Tiger feels better, opens up before teeing off in the BMW Championship

Tiger Woods took to the famed No. 3 course at Medinah on Wednesday and played only nine holes in the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am, the last pre-tournament event before Thursday’s start of the BMW Championship.

Woods worked only his short game on the back nine, just like he did at last week’s first FedEx Cup Playoff event in New York. In that one he withdrew after a poor first round, citing a mile oblique strain.

Don’t worry, though. A similar scenario isn’t in the forecast at Medinah. At least it wasn’t when Woods addressed the media on a variety of topics after his pro-am round. Here’s the latest update on the ongoing tale of Tiger:

His health: Six days after his WD at The Northern Trust tourney in New York Woods declared his body “way better.’’

“It was nice to take those days off, and I had to just let it calm down and get a bunch of treatment. It feels so much better now,’’ he said.

How that latest injury happened: “Swinging. As I’ve said before, the forces have got to go somewhere, and unfortunately when I make any kind of tweaks and changes to my swing a new body part is aching. I can’t play around the back like I used to, and unfortunately things flare up.’’

Chicago memories: “This is one of the areas that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing over the years. It’s where I made my first cut on the PGA Tour (in the 1995 Western Open at Cog Hill). I’ve had some good memories and some wins (the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships at Medinah) here.’’

Changes to the course: “It’s a lot bigger, a lot longer than I remember. They’ve certainly lengthened it since ’99 and ’06 and when we played here in (the 2012 Ryder Cup). No. 13 is a big hole now, and they’ve moved up 15, so now it’s driveable. Before we were hitting 2-irons down there from the back tee.’’

His planned course in Chicago: “We’re excited about it. The project is still continuing. Still going forward. It (the combined existing courses at Jackson Park and South Shore) is an incredible piece of property. We’re trying to do something that’s unique. One of the things we’ve talked about is that all kids will play for free. That’s something we need to make happen.’’

President’s Cup: Woods is the U.S. captain for the fall matches in Australia and might be a player as well.

“I’m hoping to put myself in the top eight. Right now I’m seed 12th, and I’m trying like hell to make the team on my own. Obviously I have some work to do. I’ve got to play well this week to make that happen.’’

Would you make yourself a captain’s pick: “It would come down to the top eight guys, myself and my vice captains about who the guys will fill the next four slots – whether it’s me and three other guys or just four other guys. Either way, I’m going to Australia.’’

Looking ahead to East Lake: “I’m trying to win this tournament, just like anybody else in the field, and trying to get to East Lake where a lot of things changed for me last year. Hopefully I can make that happen.’’

Woods made it to East Lake, the Atlanta course that hosts The Tour Championship, then won his first tournament since 2008.

The 2020 Ryder Cup: Steve Stricker will captain the U.S. team at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

“Stricks is ready,’’ said Woods. “He’s ready for not only this year (when he’ll be one of Woods’ three vice captains in the President’s Cup) but next year. He’s our guy. All the players out here know him, trust him, have the utmost respect for him. When Stricks speaks, we all listen.’’

Woods begins his bid for the BMW Championship at 11:54 a.m. on Thursday and is paired with C.T. Pan and Billy Horschel in the first round. Tee times begin at 9:15 a.m. and run through 1:;27 p.m., all off the No. 1 tee.

The BMW Championship was part of the original start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2007. Woods won both the BMW Championship and FedEx Cup in both 2007 and 2009. He also won the BMW Championship, then played at Cog Hill, in both of those years.

Koepka puts Bo Jackson in the spotlight at the BMW pro-am

Brooks Koepka is the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, the reigning PGA champion and the winner of four major championships in the last three years. On Wednesday, though, he played second fiddle to one of his playing partners in the Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am, the final warmup for Thursday’s start of the BMW Championship at Medinah.

Koepka was paired with Bo Jackson, already a legend in both baseball and football. Koepka called him “probably the greatest athlete ever.’’

“It was fun to play with him. It was cool to get to meet him after watching so much of what he was doing when I was a little kid,’’ said Koepka. “He’s so athletic, and just talking to him – he’s such a nice guy. I enjoyed it today, and I hope he did as much as I did.’’

They’re both big into fitness and compared notes during their pro-am round.

“He’s incredible,’’ said Koepka. “We were talking about his work ethic and what he did when he was playing and had to take care of his body. He’s big into biking now.’’

Poulter’s dilemma

England’s Ian Poulter, dazzling at Medinah seven years ago in Europe’s dramatic win over the U.S. in the Ryder Cup, has a different kind of challenge this week. He’s never qualified for The Tour Championship but could with a big week at Medinah.

Poulter is surprised that he hasn’t qualified for the final event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs but it’s easy to see why. He plays on both the PGA and European tours and needs more starts on the American tour to pile up more FedEx points.

“I respect my European Tour card, and I play my fair share in Europe,’’ he said. “I always have, and I always will. But that sacrifice is at a big expense.’’

Poulter usually plays between 17-19 events on the PGA Tour while some of his FedEx rivals play 26-28.

“Would it be better if I played 27 events here? Yes,’’ said Poulter. “Would it be a good thing for the European Tour? No. So I get it. I’ve sacrificed money, but money is not everything.’’

Is Bradley really defending?

Keegan Bradley is the defending champion in the BMW Championship, having won last year at Aronimink in Philadelphia, but he doesn’t feel like one.

“I don’t think you’re technically defending because it’s a different course,’’ said Bradley. “Normally when you’re defending, you’re coming back. It’s the same clubhouse, same people, same course. This is all different, but it’s still the BMW and it’s still a big tournament.’’

While Medinah isn’t where Bradley won last year it is a course where he’s done well. Paired with Phil Mickelson, he was a U.S. hero in the first two days of the 2012 Ryder Cup matches. But he was also part of the U.S. team that blew a 10-6 lead in the singles matches on the final day of the competition. Bradley was one of the U.S. losers, having been beaten by Rory McIlroy 3 and 1 after McIlroy – apparently confused by a time zone change — barely made his tee time.

“It’s incredible to be back at Medinah. I have so many memories of this place,’’ said Bradley. “Some of my fondest memories of my life have happened here. But it’s always a treat to play in the BMW in the FedEx Cup Playoffs because you know you’ve got a chance to win the whole thing.’’

Here and there

While 70 players qualified for the BMW Championship only 69 will compete over the next four days. Kevin Na is skipping the event to be with his wife, who is pregnant.

Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’ caddie, was inducted into the WGA’s Caddies Hall of Fame. LaCava, 55, was on Fred Couples’ bag when Couples won the Masters and he was carrying for Dustin Johnson before hooking up with Woods.

Odds-makers list Koepka, at 5 to 1, Rory McIlroy (7-1) and Patrick Reed, (8-1) as the current favorites to win the FedEx Cup next week. Tiger Woods (250-1) and Jordan Spieth (350-1) are notable longshots.

Twenty-two players in the BMW field have competed at Medinah previously and Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods battled over the No. 3 course three times – in the PGA Championships of 1999 and 2006 and the Ryder Cup in 2012.

McIlroy downplays his late arrival at Medinah’s Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy nearly missed his tee time in the last big event he played at Medinah. He can only laugh about it now.

The moment of infamy came in the 2012 Ryder Cup. McIlroy didn’t account for a time change and didn’t realize he needed to be at Medinah until someone called him. He needed a police escort to barely make it in time for a singles match against American Keegan Bradley.

McIlroy didn’t get a warmup on the range but still beat Bradley 3 and 1. He was embarrassed about his tardiness, but not about the result.

“Hopefully I won’t need (the escort) this time,’’ he said. “I’m staying a little closer to the course. That was a long time ago. I’ve played in three Ryder Cups since then, and a lot of things have happened during that time.’’

Among them was his marriage to Erica Stoll, a former PGA of America employee who was the director of transportation during the Medinah Ryder Cup. They married in 2017.

McIlroy won the FedEx Cup in 2016 and is third in the standings going into the BMW Championship, trailing Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, winner of The Northern Trust – the first playoff event on Sunday. McIlroy is happy this year’s PGA Tour’s playoff series has been reduced from four to three tournaments.

“That’s based on the position I’m in,’’ he said. “But I’ve also got to play a tournament in Switzerland the week after its over, so it’ll be four tournaments in a row for me. The FedEx Cup is more of a sprint now, but it’s something you really want to win.’’

The path to doing that is a little different this year, with the format assuring that the winner of next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta already assured of winning the FedEx Cup.

“The year I won was the year I had my worst ranking (36th) going in,’’ said McIlroy. “That year I won in Boston and the Tour Championship. But he also won two playoff events in 2012 and didn’t win the FedEx Cup. Brandt Snedeker beat him out that year.

“With 13 top-10s and two wins, this has been my most consistent year by far,’’ he said. “But the narrative has become that consistency isn’t valued as much as it once was. That’s true of all sports.’’

“You just have to appreciate the FedEx Cup for what it is,’’ summed up McIlroy. “Patrick Reed was way back. Then he won last week and came all the way up to second. But I sort of like the position I’m in.’’

PGA stars are back at Medinah for first time since U.S> Ryder Cup nightmare

The gates of Medinah Country Club open to the public for the first time since 2012 today. This week’s big event, the BMW Championship, will be much different than the last one held there – a devastating loss for Team USA in the Ryder Cup matches against Europe.

The BMW is a 70-player, 72-hole no-cut stroke play event that is the next-to-the-last event of the PGA Tour’s 2018-19 season. It’s also a FedEx Cup Playoff event with only the top 30 in the standings after it ends on Sunday advancing to the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta next week.

Those 70 players competing at Medinah won’t include Kevin Streelman, Chicago’s best PGA Tour player, or established stars like Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson or Henrik Stenson. They couldn’t stay or climb into the top 70 after The Northern Trust, first of this year’s three-tournament playoff series. It concluded with Patrick Reed’s victory on Sunday at Liberty National in New Jersey.

The win enabled Reed to climb to No. 2 in the FedEx standings behind Brooks Koepka.

Medinah might also be missing Tiger Woods with the first tee shot is hit on Thursday. He withdrew after one disappointing round at The Northern Trust, citing an oblique injury and said then that he was hopeful of playing at Medinah. His status is still uncertain.

Because of his WD last week Woods slipped from No. 28 to No. 38 in the FedEx Cup standings. If he doesn’t play at Medinah his season is over. If he does play he’ll need a goods finish to qualify for The Tour Championship, an event he won last year.

All that is plenty to digest in the short-term, but there’s more to it than that.

The PGA will have a playoff event in the Chicago area in 2020. The WGA has Aug. 20-23 dates for next year and a site secured at Olympia Fields, a private club in the far south suburbs with a tournament history almost as rich as Medinah’s.

Putting on a PGA Tour event is an expensive proposition, and BMW did it for 12 years (this will be the 13th). Prize money this week is $9,250,000, which is much more than that of a standing tour stop. The John Deere Classic, Illinois’ other PGA Tour event which will hold its 50th anniversary staging in 2020, had a purse of $6 million for its last staging in July.

The WGA, which has been putting on tournaments since 1899, has been boosting its profile in recent years. The organization, which raises money for its Evans Scholars program, took over management of the two Women’s Western Golf Association’s amateur events and a tournament on the Korn Ferry (former Web.com) Tour this year. The organization is also building a new headquarters building in Glenview.

WGA leadership, however, has been tight-lipped about the BMW tourney’s future beyond the announcement of Olympia Fields as the next site. That, however, was a significant disclosure in that it broke a recent policy of shifting the tournament in and out of the Chicago area every other year. Prior to taking playoff status Chicago’s PGA event was an annual thing. It was played, as the Western Open, at a variety of Chicago courses beginning in 1962.

From 1974 to 1990 the home base was all-male Butler National, in Oak Brook. From 1991 to 2006 it was played at Lemont’s Cog Hill, Chicago’s biggest public facility. Then came the switch in dates – the Western was traditionally played over the Fourth of July weekend at that time – and the name change to reflect BMW’s involvement.

As a fall event the BMW Championship has rotated in and out of Chicago since 2012 and Medinah took it on for the first time this year. Medinah has hosted bigger events than the BMW Championship, but the club has never been interested in giving up its course for a big event on an annual basis.

In addition to the Ryder Cup Medinah’s No. 3 course has hosted three U.S. Opens (1949, 1975, 1990) and two PGA Championships (1999, 2006). Woods won both of the PGAs contested there.


2007 – Tiger Woods, Cog Hill.

2008 – Camilo Villegas, Bellerive (St. Louis).

2009 – Tiger Woods, Cog Hill.

2010 – Dustin Johnson, Cog Hill.

2011 – Justin Rose, Cog Hill.

2012 – Rory McIlroy, Crook Stick (Indianapolis).

2013 – Zach Johnson, Cog Hill.

2014 – Billy Horschel, Cherry Hills (Denver).

2015 – Jason Day, Conway Farms.

2016 – Dustin Johnson, Crooked Stick.

2017 – Marc Leishman, Conway Farms.

2018 – Keegan Bradley, Aronimink (Philadelphia).

Cooke’s second Illinois Open run-away was different from his first

With The Glen Club serving as a backdrop David Cooke hits his final approach at the Illinois Open.

David Cooke became the 13th player to claim multiple wins in the Illinois Open on Wednesday and – like his first win in 2015 – this latest one was basically no contest.

Cooke won by five strokes when the tournament was held at Royal Melbourne, in Long Grove, four years ago and his 16-under-par score there was the second best in the tourney’s 70-year history.

His score and victory margin weren’t quite as impressive on Wednesday at The Glen Club, in Glenview, but he was still the dominant player in the field. Cooke was a four-shot winner over Northbrook’s Nick Hardy after posting a 13-under-par 203. He shot 67 at Ridgemoor on Monday and 69- 67 in his two rounds at The Glen Club.

“David played great this week,’’ said Hardy, whose 66 was the low score of the final round. “He got off to a good start at Ridgemoor (the alternate course for the finals) and never looked back.’’

David Cooke cradles the Illinois Open trophy for the second time.

Hardy, in his rookie season as a professional, stumbled in with a par 72 at Ridgemoor and shot 69-66 at The Glen. He was the tourney’s low amateur in 2016 and joint runner-up in 2017 before entering the professional ranks.

Cooke, meanwhile, joined some select company in the history of the premier championship for Illinois residents. Only Gary Pinns (five titles), Mike Small (four) and Dick Hart and Marty Schiene (three each) have more Illinois Open wins than Cooke.

Two-time winners beside Cooke were Jack Bell, Roy Biancalana, Emil Esposito, Gary Hallberg, Bob Harris, Bill Ogden, Rick Ten Broeck and Felice Torza. Torza won the first staging of the tournament in 1950.

Cooke’s second title came much differently than his first. He was an amateur when he won at Royal Melbourne, and he did it with a 63 in the final round. That helped land Cooke one of his first endorsement contracts, with Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods.

“It’s great to win as a pro. It makes me feel I’m headed in the right direction,’’ said Cooke. “In the first one I was more caught by surprise. I had never won anything in Illinois at that time, and I don’t think (the Illinois PGA officials organizing the event) realized who I was when they put me on the tee sheet. That made me mad, in a sense.’’

While Wednesday’s second win came off a workmanlike effort, the first one was much more emotional. It came just eight months after the death of Cooke’s younger brother Chad. He was 20 when he passed away from an apparent heart disorder while playing in a pickup basketball game at Charleston Southern.

David Cooke, 26, grew up in Bolingbrook and won some college tournaments while attending North Carolina State. While there he met Claire Corbitt, and they’ll be married in Asheville, N.C. on Saturday to climax a most memorable week. Cooke didn’t let the pending wedding distract him from business on the course.

“We had everything set up and ready to go,’’ he said. That freed him up to protect the three-stroke lead he had when the day started, and no player cut into that margin in the final 18. Cooke’s goal for the final round was to go bogey-free, and he did it.

The reward was a tournament record first-place check of $23,768, and the overall purse of $120,000 was also an Illinois Open best. There were 32 professionals and 20 amateurs in Wednesday’s final round.

Cooke will use at least some of his prize money to finance another run at the European PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament in November. He earned conditional status last year but only got into two tournaments. In opting for Europe instead of the PGA Tour Cooke is taking the same approach as current world No. 1 Brooks Koepka did when he was at that stage of his career.

“The money will help out at Q-School,’’ said Cooke. “I wasn’t sure I was going to go, or how I was going to pay for it.’’

He knows now.

Illinois Open win could be an early wedding present for Cooke

A beautiful day at The Glen Club on Tuesday set the stage for a duel between Wheaton’s Tee-K Kelly (left) and Bolingbrook’s David Cooke in Wednesday’s final round of the 70th Illinois Open.

Bolingbrook’s David Cooke could win the 70th Illinois Open today. He enters the final round at The Glen Club, in Glenview, with a three-stroke lead but he might have other things on his mind.

Cooke, who won the tournament in 2015 when he was still an amateur, will catch a flight to North Carolina on Wednesday night. On Saturday he gets married to Claire Corbitt in Asheville. They met as students at North Carolina State.

First things first, though.

The Illinois Open is the premier tournament for state residents and, if he wins today, Cooke would become the tourney’s first repeat champion since Illinois coach Mike Small won three in a row from 2005-07.

Small, still seeking that record-tying fifth title in the tournament that would tie him with Gary Pinns, was one of Cooke’s playing partners in Tuesday’s second round.

Finishing his round with a 5-iron from 200 yards that covered the flagstick on the par-5 eighteenth hole, Cooke’s concluding two-putt birdie gave him a 69 for a 36-hole score of 8-under-par 136. Tee-K Kelly, the two-time Illinois State Amateur champion from Wheaton, and East Peoria amateur David Perkins are three shots behind entering the final round of the 54-hole championship.

Kelly, already a winner as a pro on the PGA Tour’s Latinoamerica circuit, might be the more likely challenger in the final round. He knows Cooke very well.

“We go way back. David (Cooke) was at Purdue during my freshman year at Ohio State,’’ said Kelly. “Now we share the same agent (Barry Meister) and same coach (John Perna).’’

Perkins, an Illinois State player, blew a six-stroke lead in the final round of the Illinois State Amateur at Cantigny, in Wheaton, last month but is in position to make amends in the Illinois Open.

Cooke, who transferred to North Carolina State, won his first Illinois Open when he was still a student there.

“It gave me confidence because I was still wondering what career path to take,’’ said Cooke. After college he tried the Latineamerica tour last year and then earned full status on the European Challenge Tour.

Perkins had a dazzling start Tuesday, going eagle-birdie-par-birdie that triggered the day’s low round – a 65. The last birdie of Perkins’ hot streak stopped a foot away on a par-3. As good as Perkins was, he could only get in position to possibly give Cooke a run in the final round.

Kelly, trying to become only the 11th player to post wins in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open, opened the tournament with a bang on Monday when he went eagle-birdie on the first two holes at Ridgemoor, the alternate course for the finals. He held the tournament lead late Tuesday until putting his tee shot in the water at the par-3 seventh at The Glen, resulting in a double bogey.

Kelly has put that mishap behind him.

“I’m super comfortable with this golf course right now,’’ said Kelly. “It’s how we all wanted it to play, and the weather is perfect. It should be a fun day tomorrow.’’

Frank Hohenadel, the head pro at Mistwood in Romeoville, is a stroke further behind Kelly and Perkins in fourth and the five-man group tied for fifth includes two of Small’s Illini players — recent graduate Nick Hardy and current player Tommy Kuhl.

Preferring to compete on the PGA Tour’s Korn Ferry circuit, Vince India — last year’s champion — didn’t defend his title. Today’s final round will feature 52 players – the 32 pros and 20 amateurs who survived the 36-hole cut. It came at 3-over par 147.

The final round starts at 8 a.m. with Cooke, Kelly and Perkins teeing off last at 11:07 a.m.

Renovated Ridgemoor proves no pushover in first round of the Illinois Open

The Illinois PGA, in an effort to increase entries, instituted a two-course format for the finals of the Illinois Open in 2015. It allowed for a 264-player field for the 54-hole finals instead of the traditional 156 after the entries – usually around 700 — were whittled down through a series of state-wide qualifying rounds.

Carrie Williams, the IPGA executive director, said entries have increased by about 20 percent since the change, and that isn’t all.

A new course was needed for the first two rounds of the finals to accommodate the additional players. The Glen Club, in Glenview, has remained the main course. That’s where the IPGA headquarters is located. Selection of the backup course added intrigued to the championship – and that was certainly the case when the tourney began its 70th anniversary staging on Monday.

The first-round pairings suggested that more proven players were starting at Ridgemoor, but the leader at day’s end was Chris Boyle, an assistant professional at Balmoral Woods in Crete. He posted a 7-under-par 65 at The Glen Club and held a two-stroke lead over David Cooke, the tourney’s champion in 2015 who played his first round at Ridgemoor. The players switch courses for today’s Round 2 and those who survive the 36-hole cut will decide the title at The Glen on Wednesday.

Brad Slocum, the IPGA tournament director, likes the contrasting styles of the two venues.

“One (Ridgemoor) is a more tree-lined classic design that requires more accuracy off the tee,’’ said Slocum. “Glen Club is firmer, faster and longer.’’

The courses played almost equally as difficult in the first round. Of the 19 who bettered par 10 did it at Ridgemoor. Trailing Boyle and Cooke in a three-way tie for third were two-time Illinois State Amateur champion Tee-K Kelly, Chicago’s Justin Regnier and Glen Ellyn’s Dave Pecorella. Kelly shot 69 at Ridgemoor while Regnier and Pecorella did it at The Glen.

Ridgemoor, a Chicago club that’s a 20-minute drive from The Glen, is being used as a tournament site for the first time since 2003, when the IPGA held a stroke play event there. Ridgemoor’s selection comes after Royal Melbourne in Long Grove (2015), Royal Fox in St. Charles (2016), Briarwood in Deerfield (2017) and Ravinia Green in Riverwoods (2018) were used in previous years.

“I went to the board and pushed for this’’ said Nick Pease, Ridgemoor’s head professional. “It was important to showcase our course since the renovation.’’

Libertyville course architect Rick Jacobson supervised the updating of the course in 2015. It’s not the same course that was in the national spotlight in 1942 for what some believe was a U.S. Open but was never recognized as such by the U.S. Golf Association.

The controversial tournament was played during World War II and champion Ben Hogan believed it had enough similarities to warrant its declaration as an official U.S. Open. If that had been the case Hogan would have a record five U.S. Open wins. As it is, he’s tied with Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus with four titles.

Hogan’s low round of that week – a 62 – remains the Ridgemoor course record though it was tied 42 years later by Bob Zender, who came through the Chicago amateur ranks before spending several seasons on the PGA Tour.

Porvasnik answers Jeray charge to win Illinois Women’s Open

Jessice Porvasnik accepts the Illinois Women’s Open trophy from Greg Kosin, brother of the tourney’s late founder Phil Kosin, after her one-shot victory at Mistwood.

It took just one swing for the 25th Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open to turn into a real battle Wednesday at Mistwood, in Romeoville.

Nicole Jeray, for two decades Chicago’s only LPGA Tour player, picked the perfect spot to deliver the dramatic shot. Now 48, Jeray has shifted her focus to teaching at Mistwood and has grown to love it. But, no doubt about it, she can still play.

Playing against much younger players – many of them college stars, Jeray covered the Mistwood layout in 4-under-par 212 for 54 holes but it wasn’t quite good enough. Jessica Porvasnik, of Hinckley, Ohio, was one shot better.

Jeray, though, put excitement into what had been a quiet final round. She used a 4-hybrid from 177 to get within two feet of the cup at Mistwood’s dramatic par-3 fourteenth hole. After that is was Game On!

At that point Jeray and Porvasnik, her playing partner, weren’t sure where they stood on the leaderboard. The only threesome behind them was dropping two holes behind and scores provided on the course were suspect.

Porvasnik just knew that she was in a battle with Jeray, and Jeray was aware of the same thing. Not only did Jeray make her spectacular birdie at No. 14, she also birdied the 15th, a par-5, from 10 feet and rolled in a birdie putt of the same length at the par-4 seventeenth.

That birdie binge put Jeray in position to achieve a lifetime dream. She wanted to win the IWO in three decades, having previously won in 1998 and 2003.

“I wanted to. It would have been fun,’’ said Jeray, “but she (Porvasnik) birdied 18.’’

In addition to her two IWO wins Jeray lost the title in playoffs in 2010 and 2013. Her birdie run got Porvasnik’s attention.

“After she stuffed a couple in there I knew that last hole really meant something,’’ she said. Porvasnik rolled in a 15-footer to assure a win over Jeray, then had to wait for the last threesome to finish.

Two players in the final group, Kasey Miller, a professional from Findlay, Ohio, and amateur Kaho Monica Matsubara, finished at 4-under and tied with Jeray. None could beat Porvasnik’s score. Matsubara, who attends Northwestern, was the tourney’s low amateur.

.Porvasnik played collegiately at Ohio State and became the second consecutive IWO winner from a Big Ten school. Northwestern’s Hana Kim won in 2018, then captured the Tennessee Open the next week. Porvasnik hopes to do the same thing and she’ll go into that tournament on a roll. Previously she had top-10 finishes in the state opens in Colorado and Michigan.

Immediately prior to coming to Mistwood Porvasnik survived the Monday qualifying for an LPGA tournament in Toledo, Ohio, and made the 36-hole cut there to earn her first check on the circuit — $4,083. She added $5,000 for her win at Mistwood.

Though she’s primarily a teacher now Jeray isn’t done competing. She is first alternate to play in a Legends Tour event in Janesville, Wis., and has spots in both the LPGA Teaching Division national championship and Senior LPGA Championship before the season is out.

“I have just enough tournaments for me to keep me on my game,’’ said Jeray. “I like being a teacher, It’s rewarding, and I’m getting really good at it.’’

Don’t rule out vets Haas, Moore in final round of the JDC

Lucas Glover’s second shot to the par-5 tenth hole at TPC Deere Run on Saturday drew a crowd. He had holed out with a 3-iron from 255 yards for a double eagle on Friday and gave it a good try for another albatross, hitting to 12 feet and sinking the putt for an eagle.

SILVIS, IL. – The Las Vegas odds-makers didn’t believe experience mattered much when they sized up the John Deere Classic field earlier this week. The top five betting favorites – Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Joaquin Niemann, Sunglae Im and Matthew Wolff — are all between the ages of 20 and 22.

But what do those odds-makers know anyway?

Those young guns may have played well lately on the PGA Tour, and the JDC is a tournament known for producing first-time champions. Of the young hotshots, though, the best entering Sunday’s final round is Morikawa and he’s in a tie for 12th, four strokes behind co-leaders Cameron Tringale and Andrew Landry.

While Tringale and Landry hit the 54-hole stop at TPC Deere Run at 16-under-par 197 on Saturday, their status is precarious at best. Six others are within two shots of the lead, and that group includes a couple of battled hardened veterans who were among golf’s elite not too long ago.

Bill Haas, who posted Saturday’s best score with a 7-under-par 64, was the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup champion in 2011. He’s a shot behind the co-leaders and Ryan Moore, who finished his third round birdie-eagle-birdie, is one swing behind Haas.

Moore’s win in the 2016 JDC triggered his selection to the U.S. Ryder Cup team, and he went on to score the winning point against the Europeans that year. His win in the JDC, in effect, helped Moore become a national hero – at least for awhile.

“It (winning at TPC Deere Run) definitely kick-started that run, and I played good, solid golf from there all the way through the Ryder Cup,’’ said Moore.

A win Sunday wouldn’t have the same effect, since it’ll be Moore’s last competitive round for awhile. He’s skipping next week’s British Open because his wife is expecting their third child.

“I’m in an on-call situation right here,’’ said Moore. “She’s still a few weeks out, so it was comfortable being here. I won’t be going to the British because that’s just way too far away and I would not feel comfortable being that far away a few weeks with baby No. 3 is on the way.’’

Haas posted his lowest round of the year on Saturday, and it gave him a big lift.

“I certainly haven’t been seeing many mid-60 rounds in the last two years,’’ he said. “The game is not easy. It’s been beating me most weeks. Hopefully if I keep working hard days like this will happen.’’

Haas, now 37, realizes the landscape of the PGA Tour is changing. Players are getting younger and younger.

“We’re starting to see maybe the trend is younger is better,’’ he said. “The average age on Tour has gone down since I was a rookie Experience doesn’t seem to hold as much weight. I’m just going to have to play my game, and hopefully it’s enough.’’

Co-leaders Tringale and Landry aren’t exactly kids, either. Both are 31, but they’re careers haven’t been as noteworthy. Landry’s only win was at the Valero Texas Open last year, but he’s had only one top-10 finish this season.

Tringale has gone winless in 10 years on the circuit. This year he’s tied for fifth twice, the last time at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit two weeks ago.

Landry had the lead at the turn on Saturday but made bogeys at Nos. 11 and 12. He rallied with three birdies after that, though.

“I just got tired,’’ said Landry. “It was really hot out there. My golf swing started feeling a little bit shaky, my body was not really turning and I was arming it out there rather than really hitting solid shots.’’

He’ll take precautions to avoid that repeating itself in the final round.

“I need to bring more food in the bag, drink more water,’’ he said. Landry may also have to deal with being a relatively new father. His son, just 18 months old, and travels with him.

“It’s absolutely hectic. I’m about to leave here and get ready for bedtime for him,’’ said Landry. “It’s good to get off the course, just forget about everything and get away from the game. He’s a blessing.’’

But Landry still hasn’t figured out how to balance family life with tournament golf.

“Whenever someone does figure it out, please let me know because I would live to know,’’ he said.

TPC Deere Run’s par-5 tenth hole drew a bigger gallery than usual on Saturday when Lucas Glover arrived at the tee. Glover made the tourney’s first double-eagle in 19 years there on Friday and put his drive in the fairway again. He went for the green in two again, got within 12 feet and holed his putt for eagle.

Donald makes the cut at JDC, joins those chasing Vegas

SILVIS, IL. – Luke Donald is seven years removed from being the world’s No. 1 golfer, but he’s showing signs of regaining the form that made him that good, and that’s saying a lot.

Donald was sidelined for nearly a year with back problems. During the time off he lost his PGA Tour membership but he’s on the way to regaining it. His play over the first two rounds of the John Deere Classic is proof of that.

Back-to-back 68s have Donald at 6-under-par 136 for the first 36 holes at TPC Deere Run. He’s safely inside the cut line entering Saturday’s third round, though he’s a distant seven strokes behind leader Jhonattan Vegas.

Jhonattan Vegas was delighted with his play in the second round of the JDC.

Vegas, from Venezuela, matched the best round of the tournament with his 9-under-par 62 on Friday and hit the halfway stop at 13-under-par 129. He’s one swing ahead of Andrew Landry and two in front of Lucas Glover, who made the shot of the day. He holed his second shot from 255 yards on the par-5 tenth for an albatross.en route to posting a 64. It was the first double eagle at the JDC since 2000 – Frank Lickliter had one at No. 2 that year — but the seventh on the PGA Tour this season.

Donald, 41, starred at Northwestern before rising to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings, a status he held for 55 weeks between 2011 and 2012. During most of that time he lived at least part-time in Northfield, and he is the great Chicago hope in this year’s JDC.

“We’ve had a place in Jupiter, Florida, since 2006,’’ said Donald. “For a few years we’d just go there in the winter but when my girls started in school we had to make a decision and Jupiter won out because of the weather. I loved that house, but we were spending less and less time in Chicago.’’

The Northfield house was sold a few months ago as Donald was starting to regain his form. His game isn’t all there yet, but it’s getting there.

“I feel pretty solid,’’ he said. “A back issue is always something you have to manage, but I’ve had no issues on the course. The last time I did was at the Sony (in Hawaii in January) and I took some time off after that.’’

Andrew Landry hit his approach shot into a tree on this shot at No. 6, leading to a bogey that dropped out of a share of the JDC lede.

He returned in March at the Valspar Championship, in Florida, and tied for ninth – his best finish since resuming tournament play. His fitness level is improving now. As proof of that he’s survived the 36-hole cut in three straight tournaments and is hopeful of a good finish at the JDC to get more FedEx points towards regaining full playing privileges.

“My game is in a pretty good place,’’ he said. “Thirteen birdies in the first two days is a good sign that my confidence is coming back. I hadn’t played here since 2003. After that I was a European Tour member and played the Scottish (Open) before The (British) Open. It’s nice to be back here. This is a good course for me. You hit lots of wedges and it’s not overly long.’’

After this weekend Donald won’t play again until the Wyndham Championship, in North Carolina, Aug. 1-4 a week before the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin. Donald won’t get into next week’s British Open unless he wins on Sunday and he will need two very solid finishes to have a chance of making it into the PGA Tour’s postseason series.

Chances of Donald playing in either the British or FedEx Playoffs are slim, but regaining full membership isn’t. Mizuno, his equipment company since 2004, has no doubts Donald will be playing full-time again. He was awarded a new contract in January, months before his comeback was in full swing.

“I’ll have three or four starts after the Wyndham to get enough points, and I might take a money list exemption to play fully next year so I won’t have to worry about it,’’ said Donald.

In the meantime he’s in the big pack chasing Vegas, who holed over 100 feet of putts on Saturday in a bogey-free round that included nine birdies.

“It was probably the best I’ve felt all year,’’ said Vegas. “I hit the ball extremely well. I was obviously super solid from the beginning all the way to the end. Ball-striking was impeccable. I can’t wait for the weekend. The course is usually soft, and it’s been a little firmer because of the warm conditions. It’s the best I’ve ever seen it.’’

Vegas posted his round in the morning and Landry caught him in the afternoon. He fell a stroke back when his second shot from the rough on No. 6 hit a tree. That shot, on his 15th hole of the day, led to a bogey and Landry finished with a 65.