The U.S. Open is history, and now the focus turns to what’s coming up in two weeks. The John Deere Classic, Illinois’ only annual PGA Tour event, goes head-to-head with the first American event on the controversial LIV Tour.
This week’s PGA Tour stop is the Travelers Championship in Connecticut and all the Chicago-connected players – Nick Hardy, Kevin Streelman, Luke Donald, Doug Ghim and Dylan Wu – are in the field. They’ll probably be in the JDC as well. It runs June 30 through July 3 at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis.
In last year’s JDC the tourney celebrated its 50th anniversary (be it a year late). This year it’ll go head to head for the first three days of tournament play with the Saudi-backed LIV stop at Pumpkin Ridge, in Oregon. Chicago will have its own LIV Tour event at Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, from Sept. 16-18.
Jerry Rich, the owner of Rich Harvest Farms who has done wonders for amateur golf by welcoming events on his course, has been pumping up one of his rare entries into the professional competition. His biggest such venture was hosting the 2009 Solheim Cup, a women’s team competition that proved a rousing success. He liked how the LIV Tour made its debut in London two weeks ago.
“While you can expect the same level of exciting tournament play, our event will have a unique player roster and fan experience, with some good old-fashioned Chicago flair,’’said Rich in his latest newsletter to friends of RHF. “We’ll find out who is playing closer to our tournament date, but trust me when I say you’re going to see some big names.’’
Two big ones – Bryson De Chambeau and Patrick Reed – will join the Saudi circuit at Pumpkin Ridge and more may be coming because of the prize money the new tour is offering. Still, of the 15 PGA Tour players who joined the LIV Tour and qualified for the U.S. Open, only four made the cut.
The John Deere Classic will have a four-day 72-hole run and a $7.1 million prize fund. The Saudi events offer $25 million purses and run just 54 holes with a shotgun start each day and a team competition mixed in.
The LIV Tour purses are bigger than the U.S. Open ($17.5 million), PGA Championship and Masters (both $15 million) and The Players Championship ($20 million). That’s why players like Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson were willing to jump to the Saudi circuit. Rich expects them to be at Rich Harvest.
“Illinoisans deserve to have their socks knocked off by a spectacular golf tournament, one that encapsulates why this area is such a mecca for golf,’’ said Rich.
Tickets have been on sale for a few weeks. They start at $70, and they’ll be complimentary for youth 15 and under, active duty military and veterans. There’ll also be discounts for first responders, medical professionals, teachers and students.
HERE AND THERE
The 89th Illinois Women’s Golf Assn. state championship resulted in another matchup of defending champion Grace Curran, of New Lenox and the University of Minnesota, and Megan Furtney (St. Charles, Duke) in the final at The Grove in Long Grove. This time Furtney won 2-up.
Frankfort’s Mark Small, 58, was the key player for the Chicago District’s Amateur team in a 10-8 victory over the best players in the Illinois PGA in the 60th playing of the Radix Cup matches at Oak Park Country Club. Small and partner David Keenan, of Champaign, scored the clinching points at Oak Park Country Club. Small was making his ninth appearance for the Amateur squad but first since 1998. The Amateurs won for the first time since 2018, but the IPGA leads the series 37-21-2.
Kevin Flack, of Mauh-Nah-Tee-See in Rockford, successfully defended his title in the Illinois PGA Assistants Championship at Biltmore, in North Barrington. Flack has won the title three times in the last four years. Chris French, of Aldeen in Rockford, and Paul Schlimm, of Chicago Highlands in Westchester, also qualified for the Assistants national championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, FL., in November
NBA star Steph Curry has created the Underrated Golf Tour for junior players and the first of its tournaments runs through Thursday at Cog Hill, in Palos Park. Prestwick Country Club, in Frankfort, is hosting the Women’s Western Junior tourney this week. It’s the 50th anniversary of Nancy Lopez’ win there, and Naperville Country Club is hosting the boys’ Western Junior.
Jeff Sluman, the semi-retired PGA Tour Champions player from Chicago; Crystal Lake amateur Mike Karney and Britt Pavelonis, a pro from Carbondale, will be in the U.S. Senior Open, which tees off on Thursday at Saucon Valley, in Pennsylvania.