The longstanding major golf championships for Illinois’ best players will be coming fast and furious now.
First up was the 82nd, rain-shortened Illinois Women’s Amateur at Illini Country Club in Springfield. This week the state’s best men are in the same city, but at Panther Creek Country Club, to decide the winner of the 85th Illinois State Amateur conducted by the Chicago District Golf Assn.
That three-day tourney started with 138 players on Tuesday but the climax is Thursday with a 36-hole day for the low 35 and ties after Wednesday’s round.
After this week’s main event comes the men’s Illinois Open, the 54-hole finals of which will be split between Royal Melbourne in Long Grove and Hawthorn Woods Country Club from July 20-22, and the big month concludes with the Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open, also played at 54 holes at Mistwood in Romeoville, from July 27-29. The men’s Open will be played for the 66th time, the women’s for the 21st.
Two Big Ten stars, Iowa’s Ray Knoll and Illinois’ Nick Hardy, went four extra holes before Knoll won last year’s Illinois State Amateur at Cantigny, in Wheaton. Both are in this week’s field as is Tee-K Kelly of Wheaton, the 2013 champion who plays at Ohio State.
None could cope with Bloomington’s Alex Burge, who won the 96th Chicago District Amateur, the first big tournament for the amateurs this season. Two veterans should also be in contention at Panther Creek – Illinois Mid-Amateur champion John Ehrgott of Edwards and Taylorville’s Dave Ryan, who made the cut at last month’s U.S. Senior Open.
Ehrgott has made the cut in the last five State Ams and finished in the top 10 in three of them. Ryan, 61, is the oldest player in the field. Youngest is Varun Chopra, 15, of Champaign. Most of the starters were survivors of nine qualifying rounds held around the state from June 8-24. The low round in those eliminations was a 67, posted by Aurora’s John Wright in the first one at Fox Bend, in Oswego.
Panther Creek, a Hale Irwin design that opened in 1992, hosted the LPGA Tour’s State Farm Classic from 2007-11. It’s set up at 7.174 yards for the State Amateur.
Weather dampens Women’s Am
Shawn Rennegarbe, a University of Arkansas player from Addieville posted a 72 in the qualifying round of the Illinois Women’s Amateur and no more golf could be played at Illini Country Club.
Rain wiped out the next three days of play, when the title was to be decided in a match play format. Rennegarbe was one stroke better than Grace Kil of Arlington Heights, Jessica Yuen of Bolingbrook and Maggie Ambrose of Springfield.
Yuen is two-time Illinois high school champion for Nequa Valley. Ambrose plays out of Panther Creek, where this week’s men’s State Am will be played.
Here and there
Mistwood’s Andy Mickelson carded a 7-under-par 64 on Monday to capture the Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Classic in Rockford, the last tuneup for Illinois PGA members before next week’s expanded Illinois Open.
Brad Marek, the 2005 Illinois Amateur champion who played at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights and Indiana University, took home an $11,000 first-place check on the Dakotas Tour after shooting rounds of 62, 68 and 69. He leads that mini-tour’s money list.
John Deere Co. has agreed to sponsor the PGA Tour stop held at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis through 2023. The company and tour agreed to a seven-year contract extension during last week’s John Deere Classic.
Mount Prospect’s course, which has been undergoing a lengthy renovation, is scheduled to re-open on Aug. 1.
Northbrook-based KemperSports has added The Bog, in Saukville, Wis., to its management portfolio.