Sure, last week’s LIV Tour Invitational at Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, may have been the high profile golf event of this Chicago golf season but the biggest news may have been made a day earlier at the Women’s Western Golf Association’s annual Women of Distinction ceremonies at the Glen View Club.
That’s when the award recipient, Judy Rankin, told the well-attended gathering that the Women’s Western Open may finally be coming back. Held 38 times from 1930 to 1967, it was one of the Ladies PGA major championships prior to its folding after Kathy Whitworth won the final staging at downstate Pekin Country Club.
“I hope one of these days soon, and I’ve heard a lot about it, that the Women’s Western Open will be reinvented. That would be great,’’ Rankin said.
The Women’s Western Golf Association continued to run Amateur and Junior tournaments after its Open was discontinued but WWGA leaders have talked about bringing back the professional event, especially after joining forces with the Western Golf Association in recent years.
Working with the men has facilitated the WWGA’s continuation of the Amateur and Junior. The WGA – which has put on the BMW Championship on the PGA Tour and created a stop on the Korn Ferry Tour in addition to staging its own Amateur and Junior events for men — has been receptive to elevating the women’s game.
Neither the WGA nor WWGA have commented on the possible revival of the Women’s Western Open but an investigation of potential sponsors has been ongoing.
The WGA conducted the popular Western for men until opting to convert it into a FedEx Cup Playoff event in 2007. As the BMW Championship it has been moved around the country and the establishment of a major tourney for women would help fill a tournament void in the Chicago area.
The Women’s Western Open, the first major in women’s golf, was first held 20 years before the LPGA was created. The Open was a match play event from 1930 to 1953 and a 72-hole stroke play event after that.
Patty Berg won the title four times at match play and three in stroke play. Louise Suggs and Babe Zaharias were also among its champions. Beverly Country Club was the only Chicago site for the stroke play events but 10 other were used in the match play days.
Rankin, a 26-time winner as an LPGA player, stopped competing after suffering back problems in 1983. She has been the premier TV analyst for the women’s game for the past 39 years. She played in the Women’s Western Open only four times, her best finish being a tie for fourth in 1964.
HERE AND THERE: Brian Carroll, of The Hawk in St. Charles, will try to protect his lead in the Illinois PGA’s Bernardi Point of the Year race in the section’s last of four major events. The IPGA Players Championship, featuring the top 35 players in the point race, runs Monday-Tuesday (SEPT 26-27) at Lake Shore, in Glencoe. Carroll won the IPGA Championship and was the runner-up in the IPGA Match Play Championship.
The First Tee of Greater Chicago opened its Waveland Youth Facility, which is next to Chicago’s Marovitz course. The facility features a 1,250 square foot clubhouse and outdoor putting and short game area designed by Todd Quitno in consultation with PGA Tour player Luke Donald and Northwestern director of golf Pat Goss.
The University of Illinois men’s team had Adrien Dumont de Chassart (tie for 2nd) and Tommy Kuhl (fifth) among the top five individuals but the Illini finished second to Stanford in the school’s annual tournament at Olympia Fields.
The PGA Tour has awarded the Western Golf Association $125,000 for its Caddie Academy as the first beneficiary of the inaugural PGA Tour Charity Challenge.
Bob Malpede and Kevin Fitzgerald were the honorees in Monday’s rain-delayed Illinois PGA Masters at Onwentsia, in Lake Forest.