Five local medalists spur Chicago hopes in U.S. Open sectional play

The U.S. Golf Assn. scheduled one of its sectional qualifiers for the U.S. Open at a Chicago area course for at least four decades. That policy changed two years ago and it’s especially unfortunate this year, given the results at the 111 nation-wide local qualifiers.

Players with Chicago roots were medalists at five of those 18-hole competitions, and Deerfield’s Vince India posted the lowest number – a 10-under-par 61 – at all of the locals. The other medalists were Elgin’s Carlos Sainz Jr., like India a member of the Tour; Cog Hill teaching pro Garrett Chaussard; Northwestern star Jack Perry; and Northwestern alum David Lipsky.

They’ll take high hopes into Monday’s sectional qualifying, where berths in the Open proper at Pinehurst, N.C., from June 12-15 will be on the line.

Monday’s 10 sectionals are spread across the country and the USGA hasn’t announced complete player assignments yet. India and Sainz will likely go to one of the two eliminations in Ohio since their Tour has a stop at the Cleveland Open next week.

India and Sainz both opted for Florida sites in local qualifying, India shooting his great round at Waterlefe in Bradenton and Sainz posting 65 at Fox Hollow in Trinity. They’ll find it tough at either Ohio sectional, but more spots at Pinehurst will likely be offered there because of the strong fields.

The 36-hole elimination at Columbus will be the hardest in the country, with non-qualifiers from the PGA Tour going there the day after the Memorial tournament. Six major championship winners – Rich Beem, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir – will be competing at the Scioto and Brookside courses.

Springfield Country Club will host the other Ohio sectional with veteran tour player Billy Mayfair heading the field there.

Perry and Chaussard are both from California and have expressed desires to play in the sectional near San Francisco, where Lake Merced and the Ocean course at Olympic Club will be used. Another sectional survivor, Big Ten player-of-the-year Brian Campbell of Illinois, is also from California and expects to play there after the Illini finish their season in the NCAA tournament in Kansas. Campbell shot a 7-under-par 63 in the NCAA finals on Monday to tie the course record at Prairie Dunes in Kansas and also equal the Illini one-round record.

The Open drew a record 10,127 this year, and other locals still alive include Illinois alum and PGA touring pro Scott Langley; 2012 Illinois Open champion Max Scodro; pros Michael Schachner of Libertyville and Andrew Godfrey of Homewood; and amateurs Dan Stringfellow of Roselle, Glenn Przybylski of Frankfort and Kenneth Li of Westmont. Pyzybylski tuned up by winning the Illinois State Amateur Public Links title for the second time last week. It came 19 years after he won the event for the first time.

Of the 11 locals in sectional play only two – Langley and Chaussard – are past qualifiers for the U.S. Open finals and only two former U.S. Open champions – Ken Venturi in 1964 and Orville Moody in 1969 – won their titles after surviving both local and sectional qualifying rounds.

BMW extends sponsorship

The Western Golf Assn. has announced that BMW has extended its sponsorship of the BMW Championship through 2019. The tourney is part of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs and will be played this September at Cherry Hills in Denver.

Last year’s BMW Championship was played at Conway Farms, in Lake Forest, and the event will return there in 2015. The tourney made its debut in 2007 at Cog Hill, in Lemont, as a replacement for the Western Open on the PGA Tour schedule.

Here and there

The Illinois PGA Senior Match Play Championship concludes its three-day run on Thursday at Merit Club in Libertyville.

U.S. Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who dropped out of Northwestern in December after only one semester of his freshman year, has announced he’ll turn pro after the U.S. Open.

Taylorville’s Dave Ryan dethroned three-time defending champion Tom Miler of Kewanee in the title match of the Chicago District Senior Amateur at Calumet Country Club. Miler had defeated Ryan in two previous title matches in the tournament.

The Northwestern women’s team finished in a tie for 15th at the NCAA finals in Tulsa, Okla.