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Len Ziehm On Golf

Dylan Meyer gets into this JDC thanks to a hot round in qualifier

Dylan Meyer, the former University of Illinois star, has been basically mediocre since turning professional at the 2018 U.S. Open. He took a big step forward on Monday, however, when he shot a 7-under-par 65 to survive the qualifying round for the John Deere Classic, this week’s PGA Tour stop at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis, IL

Meyer made a big splash in his first pro event, tying for 20th in the 2018 U.S. Open. He also finished seventh and earned $119,114 in the Sanderson Farms tournament in Mississippi at the end of the 2018 PGA Tour season.

His first full season as a touring pro hasn’t been encouraging, however. He missed the 36-hole cut at the Valspar Championship in Florida in March and made only one cut in 14 starts on the Korn Ferry (formerly Web.com) Tour – the PGA’s alternate circuit.

Monday was different, however. Meyer finished fourth in the JDC qualifier at Pinnacle Country Club in Milan and will tee it up with the PGA Tour regulars when the tourney begins its 72-hole run on Thursday. The top four in Monday’s second stage of JDC qualifying advanced to the main event.

The Western Amateur champion in 2016, Meyer played in the JDC last two years on sponsor exemptions. Last year he played all four rounds, finishing in a tie for 43rd place.

Stricker opts for Champions’ major

JDC tournament director Clair Peterson came up 0-for-2 on popular players becoming last-minute entries into his field. Three-time winner Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth, who won the tournament twice, both told Peterson they were “50-50’’ on coming to TPC Deere Run last week but neither entered.

Stricker, coming off a six-stroke victory in the U.S. Senior Open in South Bend, opted to stay on the 50-and-over circuit. He’ll play in one of that tour’s major events — the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship this week in Akron, Ohio.

“The John Deere Classic will always, always have a special place in my heart,’’ Stricker said via Twitter. “It was a tough decision.’’

Milestone IWO starts with format change

The Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open will celebrate its 25th anniversary next week, and it’ll also undergo a change in format. Instead of being contested over three days the 54-hole competition will be played over just two at Mistwood Golf Club, in Romeoville.

In the past the tourney’s pro-am had been on a Sunday. This time it’s on Monday. The tournament calls for 36 holes on Tuesday with an 18-hole climax on Wednesday, July 17, for those who survive the 36-hole cut.

The IWO will highlight a big week for the top women players. The 119th Women’s Western Amateur will also be played next week at Royal Melbourne, in Long Grove. The Western Golf Association will take over management of the tourney for the first time, and there’ll be a 120-player field of the nation’s top amateurs.

There’ll be stroke play rounds for the entire field on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 16, to determine 32 qualifiers for the three-day match play portion of the tournament. Sarah Arnold of St. Charles, who won the Illinois Women’s State Amateur last month, and Megan Furtney, an 18-year old who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open, head the local players in the field at Royal Melbourne.

Past champions include Patty Berg, Louise Suggs, Nancy Lopez, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn

Big week for Szokol

Winnetka’s Elizabeth Szokol enjoyed her best week yet in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour. Shooting a 65 on Sunday she tied for 26th place in the Thornberry Creek Classic in Oneida, Wis., and earned $17,341.

The LPGA competes in the Marathon Classic in Ohio this week and its developmental Symetra Tour has the Donald Ross Classic in French Lick, Ind. Both tee off on Thursday.

State Amateur returns to Cantigny

Cantigny, in Wheaton, has hosted the Illinois State Amateur four times in the last 22 years and will be the site for the tourney’s 89th staging next week. The format calls for 18 holes on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 17, and a 36-hole finale for those surviving the cut on Thursday, July 18.

The State Am figures to be a wide-open affair with recent stars Tee-K Kelly, Nick Hardy and Patrick Flavin now in the professional ranks and Spring Grove’s Jordan Hahn, the winner in 2018 at Bloomington Country Club, not among the entries.

Hahn, a tower of strength at 6-foot-8, shot a tournament record 61 while finishing second to Flavin at Calumet Country Club, in Homewood, in 2017 before getting the victory a year later. He completed a solid collegiate career at Wisconsin in June.