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Len Ziehm On Golf

ILLINOIS OPEN: Back-to-back eagles, 263-yard hole-out ignite Round 2

Wilmette’s Eric Meierdierks shot 68s in both the first and second rounds of the 63rd Illinois Open at The Glen Club in Glenview. His second 18, on Tuesday, was the more notable on a day in which the weather was so hot players were allowed to wear shorts for only the fourth time in the history of the championship.

Meierdierks was the hottest, pulling off the extremely rare feat of posting back-to-back eagles. And he would have had three eagles in a five-hole stretch had a 12-foot putt dropped at The Glen’s 18th.

Starting his second round at the tenth hole, Meierdierks had his two-hole hot streak on No. 14 – a 534-yard par-5 – and No. 15 — a 358-yard par-4. Meierdierks put a 7-iron second shot to within 20 feet at the 14th and drove the green at the 15th before converting from 20 feet again.

“I’ve had two eagles in a round before, but this is the first time I’ve ever had them back-to-back,’’ said Meierdierks, who has been playing on the Gateway Tour in Arizona.

As good as he was, the shot of the day was the 263-yard 3-wood that amateur Shane Smith of Godfrey, IL., holed out for double eagle at No. 1 a few hours after Meierdierks finished.

The 68s put Meierdierks at 8-under-par 136 for 36 holes, good enough for a one-stroke lead over first-round leader Travis Johns and recent Notre Dame graduate Max Scodro entering today’s final 18.

Meierdierks and Johns, a teaching pro at both Glencoe and the Twin Lakes facility in Palatine, hope to regain their form from the 2010 season. That year Meierdierks won the Illinois Open at Hawthorn Woods and Johns won five tournaments en route to becoming the Illinois PGA player-of-the-year. Last year Johns won only twice and Meierdierks missed the cut in his Illinois Open title defense.

“I like where my game’s at,’’ said Meierdierks, who overcame a one-stroke deficit after two rounds to win in 2010. “ We’ll see what happens’’

Meierdierks had a comfortable pairing his first two rounds when he played with Phil Arouca, the 2011 Illinois Open champion. Arouca, a Glen Club member, and Meierdierks are both 27-year old New Trier High School graduates.

Arouca enters the final round five strokes behind Meierdierks. He’s tied with, among others, Illinos coach Mike Small who is seeking a record-tying fifth Illinois Open title. Gary Pinns won the tournament five times, the last in 1990.