Signs point to North suburbs landing BMW in 2013

An announcement won’t likely come for a few weeks, but the BMW Championship figures to be played in the north suburbs when it returns to the Chicago area in 2013.

The tourney’s 20-year run by Cog Hill Golf & Country Club figures to come to an end after complaints by three high-profile players. Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Luke Donald all were critical of the Lemont layout in one way or another during last week’s BMW, and their opinions carry weight with both the event sponsor and organizer, the Western Golf Association.

Donald, the world’s No. 1-ranked player, said WGA members have already consulted him about where to play after the 2012 tourney is held at Crooked Stick in Indianapolis.

“They’ve looked at a bunch of different courses, and they’ve come to me and kind of narrowed it down to a few,” said Donald.

One is Conway Farms Golf Club, a private facility in Lake Forest that includes Donald among its members. A Tom Fazio design, Conway has been a frequent site for big amateur events, but has yet to host a pro tournament. Donald is pushing hard for its selection.

“It’d be a great venue,” said Donald. “Obviously being a little more north of Chicago, it’ll attract a few more fans. The players will love it, and hopefully it goes there in 2013.”

Another possibility might be North Shore Country Club, a much older private facility, in Glenview. The WGA was impressed by its members’ support of this summer’s Western Amateur.

“(Conway) has more than North Shore,” Donald said.

Still another course possibly in the mix is the new Chicago Highlands course in Westchester. Its central location is a plus. John Baxter, managing partner of the facility, was at Cog Hill during the BMW and declared “I want this tournament.”

Chicago Highlands hasn’t been tournament-tested, but it has more available space for big-tournament necessities than Conway Farms or North Shore.

Points plans ahead

D.A. Points, the University of Illinois graduate who won his first PGA Tour event this year at Pebble Beach, didn’t qualify for this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta. He was never a factor at the BMW, but is among many players who had no objection to the tournament returning to Cog Hill.

“But maybe that’s not in the cards,” said Points. “Everybody wants to move to the north side. I just hope they find some place that is a good depiction of what Chicago golf is all about. There’s probably 50 quality courses in the Chicago area that could host a tournament, but BMW needs space.”

Points feels that requirement rules out most of the courses except for Cog Hill, the sprawling Olympia Fields Country Club and Medinah Country Club, site of next year’s Ryder Cup matches.

“Olympia is pretty far south, so that might deter the Tour from going there, and Medinah always has got a plate-full (of big events),” Points said.

With his FedEx playoffs over, Points expects to finish his season with four tournaments in a row, beginning with the McGladrey and Disney events in the PGA’s Fall Series. He’ll wrap up his season with tournaments in Malaysia and China.

“I won this year, and that was a huge step,” said Points. “But I was disappointed the way the rest of the year went. I had one top-10 after that, and that’s not good enough.”

Did you know?

WGA president John Kaczkowski said BMW has donated more than $9 million to the Evans Scholars Foundation since replacing the Western Open in 2007. … The University of Illinois men’s team, ranked 13th nationally but without head coach Mike Small, tied with Notre Dame for eighth place behind champion Stanford in the Olympia Fields Fighting Illini Invitational last weekend. Small was playing for the U.S. team in the PGA Cup matches against Europe’s top club pros in California. … Veteran club pros Gary Groh and Steve Dunning have joined Bill Erfurth, Joel Hirsch, Bill Shean and John Seehausen as leading contenders in the first Illinois Super Seniors Open at Pine Meadow in Mundelein on Sept. 28. Entry deadline for that event is Wednesday (Sept. 21). … The Illinois Women’s Golf Assn. finishes off its Senior Amateur Wednesday and Thursday at Oakwood, the Coal Valley course that once hosted a PGA Tour stop.

The Illinois PGA senior stars beat their Chicago District Golf Assn. counterparts 7-5 in the 22nd Thompson Cup matches at Chicago’s Ridge Country Club last week.

The IPGA has its sixth stroke play event of the year on Monday at Westmoreland in Wilmette. … The men’s Illinois Senior Amateur concludes Wednesday (Sept. 21) at Effingham Country Club and the CDGA’s 40th Husband-Wife Championship is Thursday at Ruth Lake in Hinsdale. … Last of the Weekly Challenge Tour’s four major championships is Saturday at Balmoral Woods in Crete.