Now things get serious on the Chicago golf scene. The Illinois PGA conducts the first of its four major championships beginning on Monday at Kemper Lakes in Long Grove with Curtis Malm again the focal point.
Malm, in his second season as head professional at White Eagle in Naperville, will go after his fourth straight title in the 64th IPGA Match Play Championship. Another win would push him past Bill Ogden, the former pro at North Shore in Glenview who also won three straight times from 1970-72. Only Bob Harris, formerly of Sunset Ridge in Northfield, has the longest streak – six in a row from 1958 to 1963.
“It’d be nice to get one more,’’ said Malm. “Then it’d be `Let’s go get Mr. Harris.’ But obviously a lot of luck is involved.’’
Malm used his first two Match Play wins as a springboard to seasonal Player of the Year honors. That wasn’t the case last year, as Malm surrendered the honor to Medinah teaching professional Travis Johns. Johns, who won the Match Play title in 2010, was Malm’s victim in last year’s final match.
Adjusting to a new job – Malm had been a long-time assistant pro at St. Charles Country Club – probably hampered his bid for the Player of the Year three-peat. A missed cut at the Illinois Open in the immediate aftermath of a major club event at White Eagle derailed him in the Player of the Year point race.
“But I still had a chance going into the last event,’’ said Malm, who is dealing with another adjustment this season. He switched clubs – from TaylorMade to Callaway – in the offseason and settled for a tie for fifth in the IPGA’s first stroke play event of the season at Bloomington Country Club.
“The first competition is under my belt, so I should be ready for next week,’’ said Malm. Matches run Monday through Thursday, May 14, and Malm might have more competition than that.
U.S. Open local qualifying also starts next week with the Chicago District Golf Assn. conducting two eliminations. Malm hoped to play in the May 18 qualifier at Flossmoor Country Club but the field was full by the time he filed his entry. So, his only option was to enter the first of the locals – next Wednesday (May 13) at Stonewall Orchard in Grayslake. His match play schedule at Kemper Lakes could prevent him from competing there.
A Patriot Day sellout at Medinah
Once again the sixth annual Patriot Day golf event had no trouble getting players. Event chairman and co-founder Mark Slaby said the May 26 event at Medinah Country Club sold out 50 days in advance and now has a waiting list for playing participants.
Registration, however, is still open for the opening ceremony and brunch and the post-round reception and other sponsorship opportunities are still available.
“We’re very humbled,’’ said Slaby. “Last year we raised about $140,000. This year $200,000 is our goal.’’
The event will be one of the last big ones held on Medinah’s No. 2 course. An original Tom Bendelow design from the 1920s, it’s targeted for a restoration that will be supervised by architect Rees Jones. Jones handled the last renovation of Medinah’s No. 3 course, which was done prior to the club hosting the 2012 Ryder Cup matches.
Here and there
Chris Ioriatti, teaching professional at Mistwood, has set the course record at the recently renovated Romeoville layout with a 9-under-par 63.
Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger, the reigning Illinois Open champion, made the cut for the fourth time in his last five starts as a rookie on the Web.com Tour. He tied for 26th – his second-best finish in eight starts – in last week’s United Leasing Championship in Indiana.
The University of Illinois men’s team was assigned the No. 1 seed for an NCAA regional tournament at Sangamore Club in Noblesville, Ind., on May 14-16. The Illini won last year’s regional at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove and also captured the Sagamore Preview last fall. The top five teams at Sangamore advance to the NCAA finals at Concession Club in Bradenton, FL
The Northwestern women’s team, which shared the Big Ten title, was named the No. 4 seed in an NCAA regional at the Lonnie Poole course in Raleigh, N.C.
John Daly will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the White Sox game against Cincinnati on Friday.