Jeray, Harris are U.S. Women’s Open hopefuls

This week’s golf, both nationally and locally, is all about the women.

The U.S. Women’s Open tees off on Thursday at Sebonack, a seven-year old New York course co-designed by Tom Doak and Jack Nicklaus. Meanwhile, the Illinois Women’s Amateur begins the match play portion of its competition on Wednesday (TODAY) and concludes on Friday at Cantigny in Wheaton.

Two Illinois players will be in the field at Sebonack. Nicole Jeray, the veteran LPGA Tour player from Berwyn, survived a May 5 qualifying session at Elkridge Club in Baltimore and Chelsea Harris, a former University of Iowa player from Normal, advanced at a May 14 sectional at Cantigny in Wheaton.

Harris, who earned her berth in a playoff, works with swing guru John Platt, last year’s Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year. Platt, now working out of Mistwood in Romeoville, will be Harris’ caddie at Sebonack.

Jeray, 42, regained her LPGA playing privileges this year and ranks 111th on the circuit’s money list with $20,670 won in 11 events. She came up one stroke shy of missing the cut in her last start – the Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship that concluded on Sunday.

Inbee Park won that tourney and will be a heavy favorite at Sebonack when she goes after her fifth win of the season. Two of her previous ones came in LPGA majors – the Kraft Nabisco and Wegmans LPGA Championship. The last LPGA player to win three majors in a row was Babe Zaharias 63 years ago.

Park will try to keep her streak going in the tourney’s first visit to Long Island in its 68-year history. While Jeray and Harris are longshots, both are in select company. This year’s Women’s Open drew a record 1,420 entrants from 46 states. The previous record entry was last year, when 1,364 tried to get into the final at Wisconsin’s Blackwolf Run.

Fourteen of the 156 starters at Sebonack are teenagers, the youngest being Nelly Korda of Bradenton, FL. She is the younger sister of Jessica Korda, one of the 81 players exempt from qualifying rounds, and they are the daughters of Petr Korda, a former touring tennis pro who won the 1998 Australian Open doubles title.

Anniversary event for IWGA

The Illinois Women’s Golf Assn. will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its state amateur championship at Cantigny.

Qualifying rounds, played on Tuesday, placed the entrants in flights for the match play portion. Northwestern student Elizabeth Szokol, from Winnetka, won last year’s title at Ravisloe in Homewood, defeating Michelle Mayer of Illinois in the final.

Cantigny will host the Women’s Amateur for the first time. The men’s Illinois State Amateur was played there in 1996, 2002 and 2008.

Did you know?

The 94th Chicago District Golf Assn. Amateur runs through Thursday at Edgewood Valley, in LaGrange.

Thomas Pieters, who helped Illinois to a runner-up finish in the NCAA tournament in his junior season, has turned professional. He made his pro debut in the Scottish Hydro Challenge on the European tour.

Next month’s John Deere Classic will include young stars Justin Thomas, who helped Alabama to the NCAA title, and Patrick Rodgers of Stanford in its starting field. They received sponsor’s exemptions as did Jordan Spieth, who was invited to last year’s JDC and has four top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season.

The Golf for the Child outing, benefitting Court Appointed Special Advocates of Will County, will be played at Ruffled Feathers on Friday. Proceeds from the event will serve abused and neglected children.

Hinsdale’s Brendan O’Reilly lost a playoff with Daniel Wetterich of Cincinnati for the Boys Division title at this week’s Midwest Junior Players Championship at Mistwood. Bolingbrook’s Jessica Yuen was third in the Girls division of the American Junior Golf Assn. event.