Golf ‘s major championship season – for all intents — tees off on Thursday, and Chicago’s best tour player will be there.
Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman is in the field at The Players Championship, long designated as the men’s “fifth major.’’ The Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and British Open remain the official ones, but The Players is getting closer and closer to their status.
Conducted by the PGA Tour, The Players is contested at the organization’s home base at TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra, FL. The tournament course is a Pete Dye-designed layout that features the most famous short hole in golf – its No. 17, a par-3 over water with an island green. Golf drama gets no better than it does at this shorty that plays no longer than 132 yards.
The 122-player Players field includes 110 who have been winners on the PGA Tour, and Streelman is one of those. He’s won twice, the last time in 2012, and was on the brink of adding to that total earlier this year.
“At Jackson (Sanderson Farms Championship in September) I almost won. At Pebble (the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February) I almost won,’’ said Streelman. “In the others I had a bunch of missed cuts by one.’’
Streelman missed eight cuts in 14 starts but the two good tournaments – a second at Pebble and tie for fourth in the Sanderson event – helped put his season winnings at $1.4 million and his FedEx Cup ranking at No. 36 with the season not even at the halfway point yet. His career winning just topped $20 million.
The Players will be Streelman’s third of four straight weeks of tournaments, all on the PGA’s annual Florida Swing. He tied for 47th at the Honda Classic and missed the cut, after a second-round 77, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I also did four in a row on the West Coast Swing. That’s just the way I do it,’’ said Streelman. “I find that sometimes in weeks three or four my energy runs out.’’
He hopes that won’t happen at The Players, but it could. Streelman is on a different routine this season. In previous years he travelled with his entire family –wife Courtney and children Sophia and Rhett. Sophia entered kindergarten this year. Her school work in Arizona has altered the family travel plans, Streelman goes it alone most of the time.
The family was re-united last week in Orlando.
“They used to be with me at 90 percent of the tournaments. Now it’s more like 40 or 50 percent,’’ said Streelman. “It’s really a change in lifestyle, but I’m never more than two weeks away from them. It’s what I do, and I still love it. I’ll do it as long as I can.’’
New home for IPGA
The Illinois PGA has changed headquarters. It’ll now be based at the former home base of the Western Golf Association/Evans Scholars Foundation in Golf.
Both organizations have shifted bases. The WGA departed its home of 64 years to move into its new building at 2501 Patriot Drive, in Glenview, last fall. The IPGA had been based in The Glen Club, just a few blocks away.
“The Illinois PGA Foundation and Section have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with KemperSports and The Glen Club, where we’ve been fortunate enough to have a rent-free office space for nearly 20 years. Their generosity cannot be overstated,’’ said IPGA executive director Carrie Williams.
“The Glen Club has also been home to the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame, which the Foundation manages, but the time has come for us to establish our own headquarters and John Kaczkowki (president and chief executive officer of the WGA) and its board have given us an incredible opportunity to make it happen.’’
In the WGA’s case, the move to Glenview allowed for the consolidation of several offices and employees under one roof. Village of Golf municipal offices and the U.S. Post Office will remain tenants when the IPGA takes over its new office space.