Jerry Rich, owner of Rich Harvest Farms, has never been reluctant to bring big amateur golf events to his private club in Sugar Grove, and this week is one of the biggest.
The 25th anniversary of the Arnold Palmer Cup, a Ryder Cup-style competition that will be staged from Friday through Sunday. It’ll mark the second time Rich Harvest has hosted the event, the first being in 2015 when the United States team of collegiate stars defeated an International squad, 18-12.
This week’s matches will be much different than six years ago, however. The first was all-men. This one will have men and women playing side by side as partners, the result of a format change made four years ago. The last staging at Rich Harvest welcomed spectators. This one is closed to the public due to pandemic concerns.
Competitors in previous Arnold Palmer Cups have included nine winners of major championships, and over 100 have gone on to careers on the PGA or LPGA tours. Regardless of the format used, the competition has been tightly contested with the U.S. leading the series 12-11-1.
This year’s competition includes two players with Illinois connections. Northwestern sophomore Irene Kim, the Big Ten women’s golfer of the year, is on the U.S. team and Adrien Dumont de Chassart, from Belgium, was a stalwart on the Illinois team that reached the match play portion of last week’s NCAA Championship. He’ll play for the International squad.
U.S. OPEN-BOUND: Monday was the annual “The Longest Day in Golf,’’ with nine 36-hole sectional qualifiers for the June 17-20 U.S. Open at California’s Torrey Pines. Twenty-two players with Illinois connections were among the 837 nation-wide who either survived local qualifiers or were exempt for the sectionals, and only three earned spots at Torrey Pines.
Glen Ellyn’s Andy Pope, a journeyman on the Korn Ferry Tour, continued his extraordinary success in Open qualifiers. He shot 67, the low score in the morning round at the sectional in Purchase, N.Y., then followed up with a 70 in the afternoon to finish third. His sectional offered four spots at Torrey Pines, so Pope becomes a U.S. Open finalist for the fifth time in the last six years of qualifying.
There were no qualifiers last year due to pandemic concerns. The U.S. Golf Association filled out the field by issuing invitations to players its committee deemed deserving, and Pope wasn’t among them.
Another Korn Ferry Tour member, Northwestern alum Dylan Wu, advanced through a sectional in Rockville, Md.,l shooting 66-71 to finish second. Dylan Meyer, a former star for Illinois who hasn’t earned membership on any tour for this season, was among seven qualifiers in a sectional at Springfield, Ohio. He tied for fifth there while former Illini teammate Nick Hardy came up one shot short of advancing to a playoff that determined the final survivors.
Bryce Emory, the reigning Illinois Open champion from Aurora, was a similar near-miss in the Columbus, Ohio, elimination. Due to a costly bogey on the 17th hole of his afternoon round he finished one shot out of a five-man playoff to decide the final four qualifiers for Torrey Pines. That sectional, which included most of the PGA Tour players who were not otherwise qualified for the Open, offered 16 spots at Torrey Pines.
Tyler Isenhart, a redshirt freshman at Baylor University who attended high school at Geneva, appeared on the brink of advancing after leading the morning round at Springfield with a 66. He faded to a 79 in the afternoon to drop out of contention.
HERE AND THERE: The Baths of Blackwolf Run, the new 10-hole par-3 course that includes a two-acre putting green, opened this week in Kohler, Wis…..The Chicago District Senior Amateur concludes its four-day run on Thursday at Merit Club, in Libertyville….A new season of Dave Lockhart’s Golf360 TV show started this week on NBC Sports Chicago. The CDGA has taken over as presenting sponsor and ex-Bears’ center Patrick Mannelly returns as host….Bolingbrook Golf Club will host one of eight 72-hole tournaments on the new Forme Tour. The professional circuit has players from 21 countries and provides a path to the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour. The Bolingbrook stop is July 20-23.