Jerry Rich has become the most ambitious golf tournament promoter in Chicago, there’s no doubt about that.
The owner of Rich Harvest Farms, Rich has provided a steady diet of top-level competition at his sparkling Sugar Grove layout ever since the LPGA’s Solheim Cup was contested there in 2009.
This year, though, Rich has outdone himself. He’s hosting two big events, the first of which is this week’s Palmer Cup matches between the top college players from the United States and Europe. The Western Golf Association’s Western Amateur arrives Aug. 3-9 and at least one player will be prominent in both.
Beau Hossler, a 20-year old junior at the University of Texas, earned a berth on the U.S. team in the Palmer Cup by virtue of the event’s point standings and he is also the defending champion in the 113th Western Amateur, having won last year at Chicago’s Beverly Country Club.
Hossler looks on the chance to play Rich Harvest twice in competition as a highlight of his summer.
“I’ve heard it’s incredible,’’ said Hossler, “and I’ll get some preparation for the Western there as well.’’
The Palmer Cup, organized by the legendary Arnold Palmer in 1997 at his Bay Hill club in Florida, has been contested at various sites in both the U.S. and Europe. The Europeans won 18 ½-11 ½ last year at Walton Heath in England, but the U.S. leads the series 9-8-1.
Hossler is one of six Palmer Cup players in the top 10 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking. The Palmer Cup starts his summer season, which also includes the California Amateur, Southern California Amateur, Porter Cup, Western and U.S. Amateur. He believes he’s a better player than he was when he won at Beverly.
“I’ve really improved my ball-striking as a whole,’’ he said. “I’ve gotten a lot better with the driver, and I need to work on my full wedge game. It was a bit off my last semester (at Texas).’’
The European team will be headed by Spain’s Jon Rahm, the No. 1-ranked amateur and a student at Arizona State. One of his teammates will be Belgium’s Thomas Detry, who sparked Illinois to the semifinals of the match play portion of the NCAA tournament last week. Detry tied for third in the individual NCAA standings and will play in the Palmer Cup for the second straight year. He was 3-1 in his matches for Europe last summer.
Georgia Tech’s Bruce Heppler will coach the 12-player U.S. team that also includes Georgia’s Lee McCoy, Stanford’s Maverick McNealy, Vanderbilt’s Hunter Stewart, Alabama’s Robby Shelton and Florida State’s Jack Maguire off the event point standings. Jean Van De Velde will coach the European side.
Opening ceremonies will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday. Foursome matches start at 7:30 a.m. on Friday and four ball matches at 1:30 p.m. Singles matches begin at 8:30 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday. There is no admission charge.
Donald heads U.S. Open qualifiers
Luke Donald, once the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, survived Monday’s sectional qualify day for the U.S. Open on one of his home courses — Bear Trap in Florida. He’ll lead six Illinois golfers into next week’s Open at Chambers Bay in Washington.
Donald, with former Northwestern coach Pat Goss as his caddie, shared medalist honors at Bear Trap with Glen Ellyn’s Andy Pope, a Web.com Tour player. Three present or past University of Illinois golfers also qualified. Nick Hardy, the freshman from Northbrook, and senior Brian Campbell – both members of this year’s NCAA semifinalist team – advanced as did alum D.A. Points.
Also headed to Chambers Bay is Michael Davan, the 2012 Chicago District Amateur champion from Hoopeston. He was low man at the Springfield, Ohio, sectional.
Here and there
Kemper Lakes is welcoming big tournaments again following the completion of a three-year bunker renovation conducted by Libertyville architect Rick Jacobson. The Kildeer club hosted the 1989 PGA Championship, six Champions Tour events, four Grand Slams of Golf, the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship before becoming a private facility in 2007. General manager John Hosteland has announced the `Restore the Roar’ initiative in hopes of bringing big events back.
Northwestern has awarded Emily Fletcher, three-time Big Ten coach-of-the-year, a contract extension. Her Wildcats won the Big Ten title this season and finished 10th in the NCAA tournament.
Illinois men’s coach Mike Small, who took his Illini to the NCAA tournament for the eighth straight year, was named one of six winners of the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year award.
The Chicago-based Women’s Western Golf Assn. will hold its 115th Amateur championship at Nashville Golf & Athletic Club in Brentwood, Tenn., beginning on Monday (JUNE 15). Nine Illinois players are entered in the six-day event including Naperville’s Bing Singhsumalee and Crystal Lake’s Lexie Harkins, the Illinois Women’s Amateur titlists of the last two years.
The Illinois PGA hosts an Illinois Open qualifier at Turnberry in Lakewood on Thursday and will hold the second of six stroke play events at Blackberry Oaks in Bristol next Monday.
The Chicago District Golf Assn. will conduct Illinois State Amateur qualifiers at the University of Illinois course in Savoy and Kankakee Elks on Wednesday, PrairieView in Byron and Effingham Country Club on Thursday and Lake Bluff next Monday.