Rich Harvest is good site for Illini to earn a return to NCAA finals

Jerry Rich makes no bones about it. The biggest event he’ll ever host at his Rich Harvest Farms course in Sugar Grove is the International Crown, which won’t arrive until 2016.

Rich calls that new LPGA international team event “my legacy,’’ but that doesn’t mean that Rich Harvest won’t take on other big events. Five, both before and after the Crown, are already scheduled. Next up is the men’s NCAA Central Regional, which begins its three-day 54-hole run on Thursday.

The Northern Intercollegiate, hosted by Northern Illinois University, will be played at Rich Harvest in September and the 2015 season features both the Palmer Cup, an international team match for college players, and the Western Amateur. After Rich Harvest’s first International Crown – Rich hopes for many more after that — the ultra-private club will host the 100th playing of the Western Golf Association’s Junior Championship in 2017.

Rich Harvest is hosting an NCAA regional for the second time this week, and coach Mike Small’s Illinois team will be in the spotlight. The Illini are the No. 2 seed behind California in the 13-team field. Illinois, making its seventh straight NCAA appearance, is one of six Big Ten teams hoping to earn a place the NCAA finals at Prairie Dunes in Kansas from May 23-28.

Last year Illinois was fifth in the stroke play portion of the finals and second in the match play conclusion, losing the last match to Alabama after knocking off top-ranked Cal in the semifinals. This year Cal is No. 4 nationally and Illinois No. 8. Illinois is 10-1 this season vs. teams in the Rich Harvest field, and the top five teams advance to Prairie Dunes.

The Illini, however, were deprived of their sixth straight Big Ten title two weeks ago at Indiana’s French Lick Resort when unranked Minnesota took the crown. Illinois is the only Big Ten team at Rich Harvest, the other five being scattered among the other five regionals nation-wide. Northwestern will bid for a finals berth in San Antonio, TX.

Despite coming up short in the conference tournament the Illini dominated the league awards handed out last week. Junior Brian Campbell was named Big Ten player-of-the-year and sophomore teammates Charlie Danielson and Thomas Detry joined him among the six first-team selections.

Notre Dame’s Niall Platt will also compete at Rich Harvest. He was one of five individual selections, and the top one will earn a spot at Prairie Dunes.

Perry, Scodro advance

Northwestern star Jack Perry and 2012 Illinois Open champion Max Scodro were among the five survivors of Monday’s U.S. Open local qualifying round at Knollwood in Lake Forest. Perry shared medalist honors with Andrew Hansen of Mequon, Wis. Both shot 4-under-par 68s.

For the second straight year there won’t be a sectional qualifier in the Chicago area so the local players who made it through the last two weeks of local qualifiers will have to bid for spots in the finals on Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina elsewhere

Chicago’s qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open is Monday (MAY 19) with 71 players competing over 36 holes at Indian Hill in Winnetka. The U.S. Women’s Open doesn’t have local qualifiers so the Indian Hill survivors will advance directly to Pinehurst.

The men’s U.S. Open is June 12-15 and the U.S. Women’s Open is June 17-20. This is the first year both will be played on the same course on successive weeks.

Here and there

The Northwestern women’s team earned its second straight berth in the NCAA finals by finishing eighth among 24 teams at the West Regional in Suncadia, Wash. The finals are in Tulsa, Okla., May 20-23.

The 23rd Illinois State Amateur Public Links Championship concludes Wednesday MAY14 at Chicago’s Harborside International and the 13th Chicago District Senior Amateur begins at three-day run on Monday MAY 19 at Calumet Country Club in Homewood.

The 63rd Illinois PGA Match Play Championship concludes Thursday at Kemper Lakes in Long Grove, and Glencoe will host the second IPGA stroke play event of the season on MondayMAY 19.

A June 27 date has been set for the second Golf for Child Classic at Ruffled Feathers in Lemont. The event benefits CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of Will County.