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updated: 4/2/2012 4:57 PM

Ryder Cup skills contest targets young golfers

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Daily Herald News Services

The PGA of America and the Illinois PGA have thrown their support behind a Ryder Cup Youth Skills Challenge, a summer-long skills competition that will culminate in a final showdown at the 39th Ryder Cup taking place Sept. 25-30, 2012, at Medinah Country Club.

The competition, which is free for all participants and conducted by the Illinois PGA, will showcase the driving, chipping and putting skills of junior golfers ages 6 to 17 and spotlight some of the local PGA professionals who helped them learn the game. As a presenting sponsor, TaylorMade/adidas will provide prizes and other forms of event support.

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"In a year when we celebrate the first Ryder Cup to visit Illinois, it's exciting that junior golfers throughout the state have the opportunity to compete in the Ryder Cup Youth Skills Challenge," said Allen Wronowski, PGA of America president. "This is a fun way to connect junior golfers of all abilities and their local PGA Professionals as we begin the countdown to one of the biggest events in sports."

Every junior participant who registers to compete in the Ryder Cup Youth Skills Challenge will receive one practice round ticket to the 2012 Ryder Cup for themselves, plus one practice round ticket for one parent and guardian. Male and female champions in each of the four age groups will receive additional prizes and VIP treatment at the Ryder Cup.

Beginning April 9, juniors will be able to register online for the Ryder Cup Youth Skills Challenge at www.ipga.com. Participants will have the opportunity to select the date and facility they would like to use for qualifying, as well as download the competition rules and format details.

Juniors will compete in driving (distance and accuracy), chipping and putting. Age/gender divisions are as follows: Boys and Girls -- Ages 6-8; Boys and Girls -- Ages 9-11; Boys and Girls -- Ages 12-14; and Boys and Girls -- Ages 15-17.

The event will begin with local qualifying competitions taking place May 1 to July 31. Local winners will advance to one of four regional qualifiers in the northern suburbs, western suburbs, far western suburbs and south suburbs of the Chicagoland area.

Regional qualifiers are as follows:

• West (Aug. 4) at Oak Brook Golf Club in Oak Brook.

• Northwest (Aug. 4) at Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein.

• Far West: (Aug. 11) at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton.

• Southwest: (Aug. 11) at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont.

After the regional qualifiers are completed, the top score from each division in each region will advance to the Championship (32 total participants). The finals will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Medinah Country Club.

For more information, visit the Illinois PGA online www.ipga.com.

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