The PGA Tour’s top stars generally sit out the fall tournaments after the FedEx Cup Playoffs are over. That’s been the case again this season, even though the Masters – rescheduled from April until Nov. 12-15 because of pandemic issues – is still to be played.
Doug Ghim, the PGA Tour rookie from Arlington Heights, is benefitting from the absence of golf’s big guns as the circuit’s season winds down. He’s had two of his best tournaments in the last three weeks.
His best finish on the premier circuit was a tie for 14th in the Safeway Open in California the first week of the 2020-21 campaign. It was played a week after the Fed Cup Playoffs concluded last month. Last week he added a tie for 23rd in the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.
The money he earned from those two events was $159,720 and that gives him the No. 46 spot on the 2020-21 money list for the PGA Tour’s next wrap-around season that won’t conclude until the 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs are over in August.
Ghim’s rookie season didn’t matched those of Cameron Champ, Matt Wolff and Collin Morikawa – all college rivals who have already won tournaments on the PGA Tour. Ghim, 24, was the 2018 Ben Hogan Award winner at the best male collegiate golfer during his senior season at Texas.
“Watching them win tells me I also have the game,’’ said Ghim during his strong showing in the Sanderson tourney. “We’ve played countless rounds together and I know I can compete with those guys. It is an added sense of relief that it’s possible, and that we have the game. It’s just a matter of being more consistent week in and week out.’’
Ghim isn’t in the field for this week’s tournament in Las Vegas and may not get into an event until the Bermuda Open, which tees off on Oct. 29.
“Just this whole fall in general is a big opportunity, especially for us rookies, to get settled in and cement our place within our category,’’ said Ghim. “Hopefully we get into a lot of events next spring. I’ve set a lot of goals for this season, then you try to get better every single day and hopefully those goals will become a reality. Each week is its own battle.’’
LPGA: Winnetka’s Elizabeth Szokol, the only Chicago player on the LPGA Tour, will be in the field for that circuit’s third major event of the year – the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. It tees off Thursday at Aronimink, in Philadelphia.
Szokol, 26, made 10 cuts in 20 starts last year in her rookie season on the circuit, earning $105,814 for No. 108 on the year’s money list. She retained her playing privileges with a tie for 11th in the eight-round qualifying series and made her fourth cut in 10 starts in the 2020 campaign in last week’s Shop-Rite Classic in New Jersey. Szokol is No. 86 on this season’s money list with $57,157.
CDGA: Libertyville resident Connie Kowal, a former executive with the Cubs and New Orleans Saints, is in the field for the last championship of the Chicago District Golf Association season this week, and those in his playing groups might find him a good luck charm.
Kowal witnessed two holes-in-one by playing partners in a four-day span recently. Both were named Ray and both made their first aces. Ray Burg of Mundelein did it at Arrowhead, in Wheaton, and Ray Bening, of Des Moines, had his ace at Western Illinois University’s Harry Mussatto course. Kowal will partner with James Duszak, a former teammate on the WIU baseball team, in the CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship that runs through Thursday at Aurora Country Club.
IPGA: The Illinois PGA Players Championship concluded on Tuesday at Conway Farms, in Lake Forest. Now the Senior version of that event takes the spotlight starting Monday at Twin Orchard, in Long Grove. The two-day event features Illinois men’s coach Mike Small, the IPGA and IPGA Senior titlist this year; Kishwakee’s David Paeglow, who edged Small for the Illinois Senior Open crown last week; and Zigfield Golf Club’s Michael Troy, who won the Senior Match Play event.