The controversial LIV Tour Invitational Series’ stop in Chicago is closing in. The Saudi-backed circuit holds its third tournament starting on Friday at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, and the fourth –called The International — is in Boston from Sept. 2-4.
Then it’s on to Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, from Sept. 16-18 in what looms as the highest profile competition of the Chicago golf season. The LIV Tour may include many more big-name players by that time, since it falls after the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Since the last LIV stop — the circuit’s American debut at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon — the circuit has added Henrik Stenson, Jason Kokrak, Charles Howell and Paul Casey to its roster and gained more notoriety when Stenson was stripped of his captaincy of the European Ryder Cup team because of his defection.
More PGA Tour players are expected to make the jump after the FedEx Cup Playoffs end on Aug. 28.
Rich Harvest Farms owner Jerry Rich sent some of his staff members to Pumpkin Ridge and liked the reports they brought back.
“If our tournament turns out anything like that one Illinois golf fans are in for a real treat,’’ Rich said in his latest report to friends of Rich Harvest.
Rich also addressed a question that has been posed frequently since he joined the LIV Tour in his first venture into men’s professional golf. A most successful LPGA team event, the Solheim Cup, was staged at Rich Harvest in 2009 and many big amateur events have also been held there.
So, why did Rich get involved with the Saudi circuit?
“The answer is simple and obvious: The Kids Golf Foundation,’’ said Rich. “Every event I host at Rich Harvest Farms supports the Foundation and their mission of bringing golf into the lives of children and providing them with opportunities for personal growth and career enhancement.’’
LIV tournaments are different than PGA Tour events. They’re limited to 48 players, and they play 54 holes using a shotgun start. There’s also a team component to each event and prize money is significantly higher than it is in PGA Tour events.
The Bedminster event will have the Navy parachute team skydiving onto the course to start play each day. Gates there will open three hours before the first tee time to enable spectators to participate in other onsite activities. General admission is $75 per day.
FED EX COUNTDOWN: All the Chicago-connected players on the PGA Tour are in this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit for a very good reason. They only have two tournaments left to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
The top 125 on the season-long point list qualify for the first of the lucrative postseason events and Kevin Streelman (No. 82), Northwestern alum David Lipsky (90) and Doug Ghim (111) are inside the cutline now. Nick Hardy is the best of the others at No. 138 with only the Wyndham Championship left after the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Ghim helped his cause at last week’s 3-M Classic, finishing in a tie for 16th, but he was in a tie for third after three rounds before dropping down the leaderboard with a 77 on Sunday.
HERE AND THERE: The 73rd Illinois Open starts on Monday at White Eagle, in Naperville. The host site was hit hard by a tornado over the weekend, forcing a closing of the course. Over 50 trees went down and a scoreboard and tent were destroyed. The club plans to re-open for an outing on Thursday, and the Illinois Open is expected to go on as scheduled. The Last Chance Qualifier event is today on the Prairie Course at Countryside, in Mundelein.
With Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest drenched by six inches of rain the Illinois PGA Senior Masters was canceled on Monday. Plans to reschedule are in the works.
The Phillips Park course, in Aurora, unveiled two new simulators in its pro shop this week.
Glen Ellyn’s Andy Pope, who had a long career on the Korn Tour while qualifying for five U.S. Opens, is no longer on that circuit, but he captured the Florida Open title last week.