In moves that are sure to bring more drama, the Illinois PGA will unveil a new format for its Players Championship next week at Conway Farms, in Lake Forest.
Only the top 35 players on the season-long Bernardi Player of the Year standings, plus the host professional, received invitations to the 36-hole event that runs next Monday and Tuesday. (OCT 5 AND 6). While the final field has not been announced, the battle for the title as well as Player of the Year honors figures to center around the top five in the standings going into the competition.
Leader is Illinois men’s coach Mike Small, who won the IPGA Championship for the 13th time this year. Second is Medinah’s Travis Johnson who was the Player of the Year in 2018 and runner-up to Skokie’s Garrett Chaussard last year.
Mistwood’s Andy Mickelson, who defeated Small in the last of the IPGA majors — the Match Play Championship at Elgin Country Club – is third and Butler National’s Jeff Kellen is fourth. Chaussard lost the title match to Elgin’s Jon Duppler in his bid for a Match Play three-peat but – being in fifth place in the standings –he’s in position to retain Player of the Year honors with a good showing at Conway Farms.
Conway has been a frequent site for big competitions, most notably hosting the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship three times. The IPGA Players had been held at either Eagle Ridge, in Galena, or Metamora Fields in recent years.
The section’s Senior division is having an even busier wrapup to its season. Michael Troy, of Zigfield Golf Club in Woodridge, defeated David Paeglow, of Kishwaukee in DeKalb in the title match of the IPGA Senior Match Play Championship last week at Biltmore, in Barrington.
Making that title match unique was the fact that the sons of Troy and Paeglow are roommates at Illinois State and teammates on the Redbirds’ golf team.
The Match Play was the last regular season event on IPGA Seniors’ schedule, but hardly the end of the tournament run.
Virtually the same field of players battled for the Illinois Senior Open title at Royal Fox, in St. Charles. Paeglow edged Small by one stroke for that title on Tuesday. After the Errie Ball Senior Player of the Year standings are updated the top 32 on the point list will advance to the IPGA Senior Players Championship Oct. 12-13 at Twin Orchard, in Long Grove.
CDGA: The Chicago District Golf Association usually hosts the bulk of state and national qualifying tournaments each year. Pandemic restrictions led to most of them being cancelled this year, but one was held last week with Michael Fastert, of Wheeling, and Dusty Drench, of Davenport, IA, capturing the lone berth offered in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. That qualifier was held at Odyssey, in Tinley Park.
Meanwhile, the CDGA is preparing for its Members Appreciation Day on Oct. 8 at Glenview Park. Entries close on Thursday (OCT 1).
COLLEGIATE: The pandemic has virtually wiped out the fall season, but not at Northern Illinois. Men’s coach John Carlson has scheduled the Heidi Wealth Management Series, which consists of five fall events at top local courses.
Next event is Oct. 3-4 at Michigan’s Kingsley Club and sites of the remaining events include Rich Harvest Farms, the Huskies’ home course in Sugar Grove; Crystal Tree, in Orland Park; White Eagle, in Naperville; The Glen Club, in Glenview; Black Sheep, in Sugar Grove; and Chicago Highlands, in Westchester.
FIRST TEE: The First Tee of Greater Chicago is on a fundraising mission, the main goal being to raise $1.5 million for its Waveland Capital Campaign. Its designed to renovate and operate the First Tee’s facility at Chicago’s Marovitz course. Over $230,00 was raised in a Corporate Challenge event at North Shore Country Club, in Glenview.
Luke Donald — the former Northwestern star, world No. 1 player and long time First Tee benefactor – has agreed to assist in the designing of an outdoor short game area.
“First Tee provides so many kids with the opportunities that I was so lucky to have growing up,’’ said Donald. “This is an unbelievable site, and we have an opportunity to create something really amazing for the kids.’’
COMING SOON: Tour Edge, the Batavia club manufacturer, plans to launch its largest product launch in the company’s 34-year history. It’ll be done in stages beginning on Oct. 6.