ILLINOIS WOMEN’S OPEN: Another Jeray-Postillion duel — but with a twist

ILLINOIS WOMEN’S OPEN: Another Jeray-Postillion duel – but with a twist

The story lines couldn’t be more appropriate going into Friday’s final round of the 19th Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open at Mistwood in Romeoville.

Nicole Jeray, the LPGA Tour veteran from Berwyn, is poised to join amateur Kerry Postillion as the only three-time champions of Illinois’ premier women’s event. Jeray, who won in 1998 and 2003, would be the first pro to win three times. She is one stroke out of the lead entering the last 18.

The leader? Postillion’s daughter Samantha, a 21-year old amateur who plays for the University of Illinois. Kerry Postillion ruled the IWO in 1996, 1997 and 1999. She played in the tourney with Samantha several times after that but did not enter this year and won’t be on hand to see how this championship unfolds.

“She’s in Arizona now, but she’s not much of a watcher,’’ said Samantha. “She has it in her head that she might be bad luck.’’

Luck won’t likely be needed if Samantha delivers down the stretch the way she did in the second round. She rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 16, then hit an 8-iron to two feet for the birdie on the par-3 17th. She’s alone atop the leaderboard at 2-under-par 142 after 36 holes.

It won’t be just a Postillion-Jeray duel over the final 18, however. Katie Dick, an assistant pro at Bryn Mawr Country Club; Michigan State player Caroline Powers; and Schaumburg’s Kris Yoo, a senior at Wisconsin, join Jeray at one shot off the lead. Yoo had Thursday’s best round – a 70 that also was highlighted by birdies at Nos. 16 and 17.

Jeray shared the lead after Round 1 and wasn’t happy with the 73 she shot in Round 2. She’s still adjusting to a different atmosphere than what she experiences weekly on the LPGA circuit.

“I’m so out of my routine – using a cart (instead of a caddie) and the laser (electronic measuring device, not allowed on the pro tours),’’ she said. “There’s a lot more things involved for me.’’

The Mistwood course has also been set up much shorter than the ones on the LPGA Tour. It was under 6,100 yards the first two rounds but will play over 6,200 on Friday.

“I should shoot nothing because I have such short shots (approaches),’’ she said.

Jeray didn’t play in the IWO last year, the first on the course after Michigan architect Ray Hearn’s renovation was completed. The layout is much different than it was in Jeray’s last IWO appearance in 2011.

“There’s so much more there now,’’ said Jeray. “I don’t know how many times I switched clubs off the tee, and I wish I knew the greens better.’’

The 104 entries were whittled to the low 34 and ties after Thursday’s round. The survivors will begin play in twosomes at 7:30 a.m. on Friday with the leaders expected to tee off at about 10 a.m.