Flavin delays decision to go pro, will defend his two state titles

The best golfer in Illinois last season has made his decision. Patrick Flavin won’t turn pro – at least for a while.

Last year Flavin became the first player in 37 years to win both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open in the same year. Only David Ogrin, way back in 1980, had accomplished that extraordinary feat.

Flavin, from Highwood, is completing a solid collegiate career at Miami of Ohio. He set his school record with eight tournament wins, four of them in his senior season. While his team narrowly missed receiving an invitation to the NCAA tournament Flavin did make it as an individual. He’s one of 10 competing in the regional play on Ohio State’s Scarlet course starting on Monday.

If Flavin finishes among the top three individuals at Columbus he’ll continue to the NCAA finals in Stillwater, Okla., from May 25-30. Lots of college seniors will turn pro after that tournament’s over, but not Flavin.

“I plan to stay amateur through the summer,’’ he said. “Staying amateur was a no-brainer for me. It was incredible to win the state Amateur and state Open last year and to repeat is a huge goal of mine, though I know the fields will be strong.’’

There hasn’t been a repeat champion in the Illinois State Amateur since Todd Mitchell in 2002-03 and only five others have won back-to-back since the tournament went to a stroke play format in 1963. Illinois men’s coach Mike Small was the last to repeat in the Illinois Open. He won three straight titles from 2005-07.

Flavin tested the professional ranks when he went through qualifying for the Canadian PGA Tour while retaining his amateur status. He didn’t make it, and he didn’t survive Monday’s local qualifying round in the U.S. Open, either. A 73 in his first-ever round on Cog Hill’s famed Dubsdead course in Lemont left Flavin in a tie for ninth place and only the top five advanced to sectional play.

His summer tournament schedule includes the Western Amateur, starting July 30 at Sunset Ridge in Northfield; the Sunnehanna, in Pennsylvania; the Northeast, in Rhode Island; and the Trans-Miss, in Ohio. All are invitationals. He’ll also enter the U.S. Amateur before the fall qualifying tournaments for the PGA’s Web.com Tour begin. That’s when he figures to turn pro.

“My game is solid right now. I know I can play at the next level,’’ Flavin said.

NU dominates U.S. Open locals

Northwestern proved they’re ready for next week’s NCAA regional in Columbus with an impressive showing in Monday’s U.S. Open locals. Dylan Wu and Ryan Lumsden were among the five sectional qualifiers at Cog Hill and Sam Triplett was the medalist at South Bend.

Big Ten champion Illinois is also in the field at Columbus but the top Illini player, conference individual titlist Nick Hardy, opted to skip the Open eliminations. Hardy, who has reached the U.S. Open finals twice, received a sponsor’s exemption to the Web.com’s Rust-Oleum Championship at Ivanhoe Club. The Open sectionals are on June 4, the Monday of tournament week at Ivanhoe.

Hardy will turn pro at that tournament and will participate in a pro-am during the sectional qualifying day. Wheaton’s Tee-K Kelly also received an invitation to play at Ivanhoe and he skipped the Open locals for the same reason.

In addition to Wu and Lumsden the local qualifiers at Dubsdread were Bloomington’s Bob Wuethrich, the low man with a 3-under-par 69; Crystal Lake’s Ethan Farnam; and Wheeling’s Brian Ohr, who survived a four-man playoff to advance. Illinois’ other locals will be next Monday at Illini Country Club in Springfield and May 17 at ThunderHawk in Beach Park.

Szokol wins on Symetra Tour

Winnetka’s Elizabeth Szokol, who spent two seasons at Northwestern before transferring to Virginia, notched her first victory on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour on Sunday. A final-round 4-under-par 68 gave her a one-stroke win in the IOA Invitational at Atlanta National in Georgia.

The win earned Szokol $22,500 and came in the second tournament of her second season on the circuit. She had missed the cut in her first tournament of the year, which was three weeks before she claimed the victory with a 4-under-par 212 score for 54 holes.

Here and there

Berths in the NCAA women’s finals will be on the line Wednesday (TODAY) in a regional at University Ridge in Madison, Wis. Illinois, Northwestern and Notre Dame are among the 18 teams in the competition with the top six advancing to the finals at Karsten Creek in Oklahoma from May18-23.

Yujeong Son, of Norman, Okla., and Martina Edberg o Sweden were the two survivors of Monday’s sectional qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open at Elgin Country Club. Both covered the 36 holes in 4-under-par 140.

Defending champion Jim Billiter lost his first match in the Illinois PGA Match Play Championship on Tuesday. The reigning IPGA Player of the Year bowed out of the section’s first major tournament on him home course in a 1-up loss to Northmoor’s Brett Packee.

Jason Day, winner of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday, will co-host the Go. Give. Gala Celebrity outing on May 21 at St. Charles Country Club. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps will share hosting duties with Day.

Chicago State is among the entries in the 32nd PGA Minority Collegiate Championship, which begins its five-day run on Thursday in Port St. Lucie, Fla.