While the 121st U.S. Open is history, there’ll be plenty of tradition in evidence this week in the Chicago amateur ranks. Heading the busy schedule is the Chicago District Amateur, at Bull Valley in Woodstock. It’s being played for the 101st time.
The Western Golf Association is also contesting its two junior championships this week, and they are rich in history as well. The Western Junior, first played in 1914, is the oldest national junior championship in golf. The Women’s Western Junior Championship was first played in 1920.
None of the three were played in 2020 because of pandemic concerns.
While the CDGA Amateur is a prestigious event, it’ll be without two of Illinois’ best amateurs who were the stars of the show the last time the tournament was held. Jordan Less and David Perkins shared the last CDGA Player-of-the-Year award, issued in 2019. They also were finalists in the an epic final in the last playing of the CDGA Am, Less winning in 37 holes.
Now, however, Less, of Elmhurst, and Perkins, of East Peoria, are ready to turn pro. Both completed their college careers, Less at Northern Illinois and Perkins at Illinois State. Perkins plans to turn pro at next month’s John Deere Classic. He’s in the field for that PGA Tour stop on a sponsor’s exemption.
Less will play in the Illinois State Amateur next month, then turn pro at the Illinois Open in August. Less was low amateur in the last two Illinois Opens and a stalwart for the CDGA amateur team in last week’s Radix Cup matches.
While Less is ready to make a big jump career-wise, one thing won’t change. He’ll still be doing most of his practicing at Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove. Rich Harvest is the home course for Northern Illinois’ teams, and owner Jerry Rich is allowing Less to continue to use the private club’s facilities though his collegiate eligibility is over.
“I’m excited for Jordan’s future, both in golf and in life,’’ said Rich. “I expect to find him honing his skills at Rich Harvest Farms while mentoring Northern Illinois University players and earning his membership on a professional tour.’’
The CDGA Amateur drew over 300 entries and the field was whittled to 78 through exemptions and four qualifying tournaments. The championship proper opened with a 36-hole qualifying session on Monday, and the low 16 and ties began the match play portion on Tuesday. Quarterfinal and semifinals matches will be played on Wednesday (TODAY) and the champion will be crowned in a 36-hole final on Thursday.
JUNIOR DOUBLEHEADER: The Western Golf Association will conduct its junior championships concurrently, but on different courses. Onwentsia, in Lake Forest, will host the boys and Aurora Country Club will be the girls venue.
Both tournaments started on Monday with the boys ending on Thursday and the girls on Friday. The girls championship, held in conjunction with the Women’s Western Golf Association, is being played in the Chicago area for the firt time since Knollwood, in Lake Forest, hosted in 2014.
Past winners of the boys tourney include Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk while the girls champions of the past include Christie Kerr and Nancy Lopez. Lopez was a three-time winner from 1972-74.
HERE AND THERE: Grace Curran, a University of Minnesota golfer from New Lenox, dominated the 88th Illinois Women’s State Amateur at Pine Meadow, in Mundelein. She shot a 2-under-par 70 to lead the qualifying round, then won all five of her matches. Megan Furtney, of St. Charles and Duke, was Curran’s 2 and 1 victim in the title match….Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman hovered among the top 10 at the U.S. Open until a 72-73 finish on the weekend dropped him into a tie for 15th. Still, it was his second-best showing in eight appearances in the finals. He tied for 13th in 2016…..Northbrook’s Nick Hardy opened 68-69 in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Wichita Open, then withdrew after developing a wrist injury. Highwood’s Patrick Flavin, who posted a 62 in the third round, wound up in a tie for 10th….The top players in the Illinois PGA defeated the CDGA’s top amateurs 11-7 last week at River Forest Country Club. The IPGA has a 36-20-2 edge in the series.
Len Ziehm, a 2019 inductee into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame, is part of the Golfers on Golf Radio 820 show, which is broadcast at 4 p.m. on Saturdays. He is also co-host of the Ziehm & Spears Golf Podcast Series on social media outlets and his writings can be found at www.lenziehmongolf.com.