This week’s “Longest Day in Golf’’ was an especially long one for 20 Chicago-connected players who had hopes of qualifying for the 122nd U.S. Open. Only one made it through Monday’s 10 sectional qualifiers.
Belgium’s Adrien Dumont de Chassart, the star of the University Illinois team, squeezed in thanks to a solid second round in the elimination at Springfield, Ohio. De Chassart, who sparked the Illini to the Big Ten title and will return as a fifth-year senior next season, finished in a four-way tie for fifth place. The Springfield elimination had 77 players competing for eight sports in the finals at The Country Club in Massachusetts June 16-19.
Nick Hardy, a PGA Tour rookie and Illinois alum, finished one stroke behind De Chassart in an attempt to qualify for his fourth U.S. Open. Hardy shot 65 in the first round but dropped to a 72 in the afternoon while De Chassart shot 70-66 to advance. Englishman Harry Hall, who beat Hardy in a playoff for the title at last week’s Korn Ferry Tour event at The Glen Club in Glenview, was among those advancing in a sectional at Ansley, Ga.
This year’s U.S. Open drew 8,880 entries and 871 advanced through 109 local eliminations to reach the sectional stage where 65 spots at The Country Club were on the line. Springfield drew most of the Chicago competitors but only Hardy was a serious contender.
De Chassart’s Illini teammate Tommy Kuhl of Morton, IL., was among the leaders after the morning round in Jupiter, FL, when he carded a 68. He faded to a 76 in the afternoon, however, and tied for 20th.
GOING COLLEGIATE: The University of Illinois opened the Atkins Golf Club, the renamed and renovated version of Stone Creek, last week and men’s coach Mike Small announced a 36-hole collegiate tournament there as a final tuneup for next year’s Big Ten Championship.
The Illini also added a graduate student transfer in Matthis Besard, who starred at Southern Illinois as an undergraduate. He was the Missouri Valley Conference’s Player of the Year this season and leaves SIU with school records for most rounds in the 60s and low 54-hole score (a 16-under-par 200).
Meanwhile, Justin Fetcho, one of Small’s former assistants, is returning as head coach at Southern Illinois. He directed the Salukis from 2015-20 and took them to the NCAA tournament twice. He left for an assistant’s job at Florida State before returning to SIU.
HERE AND THERE: Dave Lockhart’s Golf360 show is back on the air with Katie Kearney as the new host. She will team with ex-Bears’ long snapper Patrick Mannelly, who will handle interviews and features in the show’s seventh season. Each episode with be shown at least 10 times on NBC Sports Chicago.
Cog Hill, in Palos Park, will host the first of nine nation-wide qualifiers for the Amateur Putting Tour’s national championship on June 29. The top five finishers in the 90-player field will advance to the national finals at Pinehurst, in North Carolina, on Nov. 6.
Marcus Hrpcha, former assistant at Bob O’Link in Highland Park, is the new head professional at Ravinia Green in Riverwoods.