Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman remains one of golf’s most promising up-and-coming players, but he’s not going into this week’s U.S. Open with any momentum. Chicago’s only homegrown PGA Tour player missed the cut in his last three tournaments.
“It’s been a strange year golf-wise,’’ said Streelman, “but it’s been a wonderful year off the course thanks to Sophia. She’s been my priority.’’
Streelman and wife Courtney became parents for the first time on Dec. 26 when Sophia was born. She arrived a month ahead of schedule, and Courtney had a difficult delivery that led to Sophia spending some time in intensive care. All is fine with the Streelman now, however.
“The first three months were tough, but Sophia’s been an angel,’’ said Streelman, who reluctantly left wife and daughter to finish in a tie for third at the Tournament of Champions in January before deciding to radically alter his schedule.
“I played great at Maui, then was home for five-six weeks after that,’’ he said. “I didn’t go to the Bob Hope (Chrysler Classic), Pebble Beach or Honda – tournaments that I usually play.’’
Since returning to the circuit his play has been sporadic, but he’s not concerned and his career tour earning will likely top $10 million with his next good showing (he’s over $9.9 million now since turning pro in 2001 and joining the PGA Tour in 2007). Sophia, meanwhile, has learned to travel. She’s already made 15 airplane rides.
This year’s Open begins Thursday on the famed No. 2 course at Pinehurst, N.C. Streelman went to college at nearby Duke but hasn’t played that course since it was renovated three years ago. He didn’t see that new look until arriving this week.
“I wasn’t going to go there early because the course wouldn’t have been even close to the conditions we’ll be playing in the Open,’’ he said. “But I’m excited. I’m feeling good and hoping things will click this week.’’
The Open will be his third of four straight weeks of tournaments. Then he’ll head overseas to play in the Scottish and British Opens and re-evaluate his schedule for the remainder of the season after playing in those events.
Luke Donald, the former Northwestern star and former world No. 1, and Elmhurst’s Mark Wilson, who survived sectional qualifying, are also in the Open field. So are University of Illinois alums D.A. Points and Luke Guthrie and Brian Campbell, who was the Big Ten player-of-the-year for the Illini this season.
Kemper Lakes will mark the 25th anniversary of the late Payne Stewart’s victory in the 1989 PGA Championship at the Kildeer course with a 5:30 p.m. reception next Wednesday (JUNE 18).
Peter Jacobsen, the popular Champions Tour player and TV golf analyst, will be featured at the event, which also marks the 35th anniversary for Kemper Lakes. Jacobsen was one of Stewart’s best friends and the latest winner of the Payne Stewart Award. Stewart lost his life in a 2000 airplane incident in the aftermath of his second U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999.
A limited number of tickets, priced at $250, are still available for the event. Proceeds will go to the Payne Stewart Family Foundation. Contact Kemper Lakes for details.
Also on tap that night is Donald’s sixth annual Taste of the First Tee event at North Shore Country Club in Glenview. Champions Tour stars Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman and Colin Montgomerie will join Donald on the stage at that one. They’ll be in town to compete in Chicago’s only pro tour event of 2014. The Champions Tour’s Encompass Championship will begin its 54-hole run at North Shore on June 20.
Before that, though, there’ll be a pre-qualifier on Thursday (JUNE 12) at Deerfield Golf Club and the top five there will advance to the final qualifier on Monday (JUNE 16), also at Deerfield.
Here and there
Medinah Country Club will formally open its renovated No. 1 course on Friday. Tom Doak, the architect who handled the project that started the day after the 2012 Ryder Cup concluded on Medinah’s No. 3 course, will hit the ceremonial first tee shot.
Ray Hearn, the Michigan architect who directed well-received renovations at Flossmoor Country Club and the Mistwood course in Romeoville, has signed on to supervise another re-do at Midlothian Country Club.
Jack Perry, who concluded a solid collegiate career at Northwestern, took advantage of an invitation to last week’s Cleveland Open on the Web.com Tour. He survived the 36-hole cut in his first tournament as a professional.
Cog Hill, in Lemont will host the first of 50 world-wide qualifiers for the Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup amateur event on Monday (JUNE 16). The finals are in Turkey in November.
The Illinois PGA will hold a qualifier for the Illinois Open at Inverness on Monday, and the Chicago District Golf Assn. will host a similar elimination for the Illinois State Amateur at Lake Bluff on the same day.