Kevin Streelman’s golf game may be peaking at just the right time.
The PGA Tour player from Winfield got into this week’s U.S. Open with an extraordinary nine holes in last week’s 36-hole sectional qualifier in Columbus. After shooting a 71 in the first 18, played at Scioto – Jack Nicklaus’ home course as a youth, Streelman exploded with a 30 on the front nine of his second 18, played at Ohio State University’s well-respected Scarlett course.
That burst made the final nine easy as Streelman finished third in the toughest of the 13 sectionals held across the country. The field at Columbus was filled with PGA Tour players, who chose to qualify there because of its proximity to the circuit’s Memorial tournament.
Streelman will be paired with D.A. Points, the former University of Illinois golfer from Pekin, and Korean Dong-Hwan Lee, who will be playing in the tournament for the first time, in the first two rounds. They start off the No. 1 tee at San Francisco’s Olympic Club at 12:05 p.m. (Chicago time) on Thursday. Streelman played the Olympic Club about five years ago when he was toiling on the mini-tours.
“It was just for fun, but I love that golf course,’’ said Streelman as he prepared for a practice round with Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley in Phoenix last week. “That course is very demanding, and this Open will be unique because the course is so difficult going out. The first eight-nine holes are the most difficult but you can make birdies coming in.’’
Streelman is in the biggest U.S. championship for the third time and survived the 36-hole cut the first two times. His best finish, though, was a tie for 53rd in his first Open – also in California, at Torrey Pines – in 2008.
“I led that one after the first round,’’ he said. “This will be my seventh major (championship). They’re a little different kind of pressure, and you get more comfortable each time you do it.’
On the home front
While the U.S. Open owns the golf spotlight this week, there will be two big events going on locally. The 79th Illinois Women’s Amateur makes a rare Chicago area appearance at Ravisloe in Homewood, and the 51st Radix Cup matches are on tap at Oak Park Country Club.
The women’s event started with a qualifying round on Tuesday and match play competition will run through Friday. Wednesday’s Radix Cup is a team event pitting the top players in the Illinois PGA against the top amateurs in the Chicago District Golf Assn. The pros hold a 32-16-2 edge in the series.
Kemper Lakes changes membership policy
Kemper Lakes, which hosted the 1989 PGA Championship during its start as a public facility, has announced a market-based pricing program that allows current members to offer their memberships for sale to new members at a price driven by market demand.
“It’s an incredible program that achieves all our objectives,’’ said general manager Janet Dobson. “We can garner new members during a slow period, we can introduce new members into the club and it allows current members who need to retire from the club the chance to do so without a waiting period.’’
Face value of a membership is $50,000. Membership director Steve Kashul said that initial sales under the new program were trading at 15 percent of the stated price with three currently available for $7,500.
Here and there
Luke Guthrie, who won the individual Big Ten title for Illinois this season and tied for 19th in the Memphis St. Jude Classic on Sunday in his professional debut, has accepted a sponsor’s exemption to next month’s John Deere Classic in the Quad Cities. Also accepting invites were college freshman stars Patrick Rodgers of Stanford and Jordan Spieth of Texas….Mistwood’s recently-renovated course in Romeoville opens to the public on Friday (JUNE 15). Though the course will be in full operation, work around the new learning center will be evident and the parking lot is being doubled in size, to accommodate 240 cars. A stoplight is also being installed at the course entrance to facilitate an expected heavier traffic flow….Scott Langley, the former NCAA champion for Illinois, gets the honor of hitting the first tee shot off the No. 1 tee at the U.S. Open on Thursday….The Champions Tour may be returning to Chicago for the first time since 2002. Though no announcement has been made, the circuit is expected to bring its Tampa Bay event to either North Shore Country Club in Glenview or Evanston Golf Club in Skokie starting in 2013…..The First Tee of Greater Chicago begins its program at Cog Hill, in Lemont, on Friday (JUNE 15)….Illinois Open qualifying resumes at Bull Valley in Woodstock on Thursday (JUNE 14).