Ghim coped with the rowdy Phoenix golf crowds

Doug Ghim developed his golf skills first growing up in Arlington Heights and he progressed all the way to the PGA Tour.  Last week he even put himself in position to win for the first time at the WM Phoenix Open.

Ghim got off to a good start, shooting 65 in the first round.  In the second he was pelted with beer cups after he made birdie at the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, and he was tied for third place after seven holes when darkness halted play in Saturday’s weather-delayed third round.

So far, so good. The Phoenix crowds are known for being big and boisterous.  Last week’s was even more so.  The tourney reported crowds nearing 250,000 for the week, and that was deemed a PGA Tour record. At the par-3 No. 16 hole the fans were particularly unruly, to put it mildly.

Even the usually mild-mannered Zach Johnson, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, snapped at them,  he was saying he was “sick of it’’ and to “just shut up.’’

Ghim hung on through the craziness to tie for 12th, his best finish in four starts this year and an indication his game is taking shape after missing the cut in his first two tournaments.  Ghim tied for 13th the previous week at the Farmer’s Insurance Open. Phoenix was a bigger money event, and Ghim pocketed $187,000.

His thoughts on the impact of the rowdy weekend crowds weren’t recorded but they may have affected Northbrook’s Nick Hardy, who has had a solid start to the season.  He survived all five cuts and was hovering in the top half of the leaderboard at Phoenix until shooting a 78 in the final round,

The always gentlemanly Luke Donald, the European Ryder Cup captain, didn’t survive the cut at Phoenix but got an indication what his Euro squad might experience when the Ryder Cup is played on American soil in 2025.

“This tournament was a nice precursor to what New York and Bethpage might feel like,’’ said Donald. “It’s quite the atmosphere, the rush, the intensity. There’s nothing quite like the energy you feel as a player playing (in Phoenix).’’

SHOW TIME: Nick Anderson, the former University of Illinois basketball star, and long-time NFL place-kicker Robbie Gould will be featured at the 39th Chicago Golf Show, which has a Feb. 23-25 run at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

Anderson will be on the show’s Main Stage on both weekend days to promote his Flight 25 Foundation partnership with the Chicago District Golf Association Foundation. Gould, a CDGA ambassador, will also be appearing on the show’s Main Stage.

HERE AND THERE:  Ghim won’t play in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles this week.  That’s where Tiger Woods will make his season debut.  Hardy will be in the field there.

Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman, battling a back injury the last three weeks, had hoped to return at Phoenix – the PGA Tour stop closest to his Arizona home.  He didn’t make it, though, and will also miss the Genesis stop.

Jamie Nieto, formerly head professional at The Preserve at Oak Meadows in Addison, is now assistant professional at The Fox in St. Charles.

The U.S. Golf Association has announced Illinois’ three local qualifying sites for the men’s U.S. Open – Stonewall Orchard, in Grayslake, on April 24; Cantigny, in Wheaton, on April 29; and Illini Country Club, in Springfield, on May 13.