The first of two PGA Tour stops in Illinois -- this week's John Deere Classic in Silvis -- already had its share of good story lines with Steve Stricker trying for a three-peat and Louis Oosthuizen using the tournament as his final tuneup before defending his British Open title next week.
But the JDC offers more than that thanks to two late entries.
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Davis Love III, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain who hopes to play his way onto the team for next year's matches at Medinah, and David Toms, the 2001 PGA champion who has revived his game this season, also joined the field in the last few days before Friday's entry deadline.
Love, who didn't qualify for this year's British until last month, will be among the players taking advantage of the jet provided by JDC director Clair Peterson for a direct flight to next week's British Open at Royal St. George's.
Toms, who made the JDC the first of his 11 PGA Tour victories in 1997, hopes to keep a great season going. After losing The Players Championship title to K.J. Choi in a March playoff, Toms rebounded the following week.
He opened 62-62 en route to winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Including a third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Toms is fifth on the PGA Tour's season money list.
Peterson announced his final sponsor's exemptions, with two of them going to Oklahoma State golfers who just turned pro. One, Morgan Hoffman, made his first pro cut at Hartford and plans to spend this season on the Nationwide Tour. The other, Kevin Tway, is the son of former PGA champion Bob Tway. Bob will caddie for Kevin at the JDC, which begins its 72-hole run on Thursday.
Scott Langley, the 2010 NCAA champion for Illinois, is also in the field. Hoping to earn a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team, Langley has retained his amateur status.
A surprise at Medinah
Medinah had planned to keep its renovated No. 3 course relatively tournament-free in preparation for the Ryder Cup, but an exception was made at last week's 92nd Chicago District Amateur. The club offered use of the famed course for the championship match after Nos. 1 and 2 had been used the first three days.
Neither Bloomington's Kyle English, won the tourney's stirring 37-hole title match, nor Lockport runner-up Andy Mickelson had played No. 3 before their showdown and neither objected to the unexpected course change in the middle of the tournament.
"I didn't care if I'd seen the course or not," English said. "Playing Medinah No. 3 was very special. It was in perfect shape, with perfect greens. We got a little preview of the Ryder Cup."
"I was extremely excited when the chance to play it came up," Mickelson said. "It was a thrill, an absolute treat."
Course No. 1 will be used for Thursday's Patriot Day fundraiser and for the Illinois PGA Championship in September. Michigan architect Tom Doak is expected to oversee a renovation of No. 1 immediately after the Ryder Cup.
The girls are coming
The Chicago area hasn't focused on female competition since 2001, when the Women's Western Amateur was played at Exmoor in Highland Park and the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links was staged the following week at Kemper Lakes in Long Grove. Candie Kung won both.
A similar two-week run begins Monday featuring the potential LPGA stars of the future. The Women's Western Junior Championship begin its five-day run at Flossmoor Country Club on Monday, and the U.S. Junior Girls Championship follows with a July 18-23 staging at Olympia Fields.
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Neither of the CDGA Amateur finalists -- Kyle English and Andy Mickelson -- is in the Western Amateur at North Shore in Glencoe next month, though Mickelson is on the waiting list. Both earned exemptions into August's Illinois Amateur via their performances at Medinah, and English will also compete in the Illinois Open. The last day of the Illinois Open (July 27), however, coincides with a U.S. Amateur qualifier at Crestwicke, English's home club. English will play in the qualifier if he doesn't make the cut at the Illinois Open. ... Illinois Amateur qualifying started Tuesday at Sanctuary in New Lenox, and four more eliminations for next month's finals at Glen Oak in Glen Ellyn will be held over the next two days. Schaumburg Golf Club and the University of Illinois course at Savoy will be the sites Wednesday and downstate venues Prairie View in Byron and Crane Creek in Kilbourne will host Thursday There are 11 qualifying sessions overall. ... The Illinois PGA tournament season resumes Monday with a stroke-play event at Prairie Isle in Prairie Grove.
• Len Ziehm's golf column appears Wednesday's in the Daily Herald. To contact him, visit ziehmongolf.com.