The fourth and final major tournament of the Illinois PGA season begins a two-day run on Monday at a new site, Metamora Fields near Peoria.
The IPGA Players Championship, long based at Eagle Ridge in Galena, will decide two Player of the Year races.
Curtis Malm, assistant professional at St. Charles Country Club, and Matt Slowinski, assistant at Glen Oak in Glen Ellyn, will duel for both honors, though Steve Orrick of Country Club of Decatur is the tourney's defending champion.
Malm had a chance to repeat as IPGA Player-of-the-Year at the final stroke play competition on Monday, but he finished in a tie for 31st at Glen Flora in Waukegan. Slowinski tied for fourth there to climb ahead of Medinah assistant Travis Johns into second in the Player-of-the-Year standings. Johns didn't compete at Glen Flora.
Slowinski also leads in the IPGA Assistants Player-of-the-Year competition and could beat out Malm for that honor with a good showing at Metamora Fields. Last year Malm won both honors, the second player to do so. The first, Dino Lucchesi, swept both titles in 1998 and 1999.
Northwestern's prize recruit, U.S. Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick, helped the Wildcats win their own tournament in his collegiate debut on Monday.
Fitzpatrick finished third behind Michigan's Chris O'Neill and NU teammate Jack Perry as the Wildcats won the Windon Memorial tourney at Knollwood in Lake Forest.
They weren't Illinois' only collegiate team to celebrate.
Illinois, runner-up in last spring's NCAA finals, swept the Wolf Run Invitational in Indiana over the weekend without head coach Mike Small, who was in England helping a team of U.S. club professionals battle their European counterparts to a 13-13 tie in the PGA Cup matches.
Small's team won at Wolf Run by 33 strokes over second-place Auburn, and Illini players Thomas Detry and Brian Campbell were one-two in the individual competition.
Dick Wagley, the 31-year head professional at Indian Hill in Winnetka, has been named Professional of the Year by the IPGA. It's the section's highest honor. John Andrews of Pine Meadow in Mundelein is the IPGA Teacher of the Year. They'll head the honorees at the season-ending awards presentations Oct. 23 at Medinah.
Did you know?
The Ladies PGA's Legends Tour, the official senior circuit of the LPGA, will hold its biggest event this week in French Lick, Ind. The Legends will open their own Hall of Fame at the French Lick Resort & Spa on Thursday and then contest a 54-hole tourney Friday through Sunday that offers a record $500,000 purse. The champion will receive $75,000.
Last of the seven qualifying competitions for the revived Chicago Open will be held Thursday at Makray Memorial in North Barrington. The tournament proper, the last significant competition of the Chicago season, is Oct. 7-9 at Cantigny in Wheaton.
The Chicago District Golf Association's tournament seasons ends on Wednesday with the Prairie State Challenge at Midlothian.
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