Last week’s John Deere Classic wasn’t kind to Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman, the top local player on the PGA Tour. He missed the 36-hole cut at the JDC, but he’s still in this week’s British Open at England’s Royal St. George’s course.
“It’s a different level of everything. Everything’s elevated – the adrenalin, the crowds, the golf course,’’ said Streelman, who has played in the year’s last major championship five times since his first appearance in 2011.
Royal St. George’s was also the site when Streelman made his British Open debut – and missed the cut.
“I love it, but now I’m a more developed golfer than I was then,’’ said Streelman. “It’s very weather-dependent, and you know what it will throw at us.’’
Like the JDC, the British Open wasn’t played in 2020 because of pandemic concerns. There’ll be still be restrictions in place there this week and that’s bothering some of the players — but not Streelman.
“It is what it is,’’ he said. “We’re all in the same boat but. Heck, it’s a lot better than not having a championship. We’ll eat at the golf course. We’ll get through it, and someone will go home with the Claret Jug and be real happy.’’
Streelman’s berth in the field was announced on June 27, thanks to his No. 52 standing in the Official World Golf Rankings at that time. In addition to his first appearance 10 years ago Streelman tied for 79th in 2013, tied for 54th in 2014,, missed the cut in 2018 and tied for 57th in 2019.
He doesn’t appear to be going into his sixth appearance with his game in good place. After five solid performances – including an eighth-place finish in the PGA Championship – Streelman missed cuts in his last two starts. The first was at Hartford, a tournament in which he was a past champion, and the second was at the John Deere Classic, the only annual PGA Tour stop in his home state where he had three top-10s in nine appearances.
“I was pretty tired,’’ he said. “I’d played in nine of the previous 11 weeks and been home only four nights in nine weeks,’’ he said. “We spent a few days at Cape Cod (Massachusetts) and a few days in Lake Geneva and planned to get it going (in the JDC) but I didn’t play as well as I wanted. Still, it was a nice week with the family, nice to eat Whitey’s Ice Cream (a tournament tradition) and get to see some friends from Chicago.’’
Instead of competing at TPC Deere Run he worked on his game at Black Sheep, in Sugar Grove, before catching the flight from the Quad Cities airport to England.
“We’ll figure it out. We’re not far off. I’m sure about that,’’ said Streelman.
Despite his recent struggles, Streelman has had a good year and still holds out hope of making the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the upcoming matches at Whistling Straits, in Wisconsin.
“With a monster British Open and a good FedEx Cup Playoff run I can still get there,’’ said Streelman. “I’ll take two weeks off after the British. That’ll be key for me because I’ve played a ton the last few months. That was a good problem because it got me into more tournaments than I would have done. I got into the PGA and the U.S. Open, but now I need to get a recharge.’’
Streelman, 42, lives in Phoenix and spent the early stages of the pandemic shutdown getting in good family time that included some golf with son Rhett, who is just starting to play the game. He was ready to go when the PGA Tour resumed its tournament schedule on June 11
For the 2020-21 season he has made 17 of 26 cuts, accumulated three top-10 finishes, earned over $1.8 million and got his FedEx Cup ranking up to No. 57.
HERE AND THERE: The Women’s Western Amateur, a tournament held without interruption since 1901, begins a six-day run at Park Ridge Country Club on Monday (JULY 19) and the 90th Illinois State Amateur tees off the following day at Mistwood, in Romeoville….Winnetka’s Elizabeth Szokol, Chicago’s only LPGA Tour player, tied for second in the Marathon Classic, in Ohio, on Sunday and earned her biggest check — $157,123….Vince India, Deerfield’s former Illinois Open champion, finished a strong sixth in the Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship on Sunday…..A notable miss from last week’s Illinois Women’s Open: Elyssa Abdullah, 14, of Hinsdale, finished in a tie for eighth place at Mistwood. Her parents are Medinah members and her coach is Ian Grant at Oak Brook Golf Club…..Former University of Illinois stars Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters will represent Belgium in the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.