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updated: 1/9/2014 3:38 PM

Fitzpatrick withdraws from Northwestern golf

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  • U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick has decided to leave Northwestern University and return to England to focus on his golf game.

    U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick has decided to leave Northwestern University and return to England to focus on his golf game.
    Associated Press


Northwestern men's golf coach Pat Goss labeled Matt Fitzpatrick as "our most high-profile recruit since Luke Donald." Unfortunately for NU, Fitzpatrick's stay in Evanston didn't last long.

Fitzpatrick, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, withdrew from the school on Thursday to pursue more playing opportunities as an amateur in his native England.

As U.S. Amateur titlist, Fitzpatrick has invitations to this year's Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in addition to the top amateur event worldwide. Playing a full schedule of these competitions while remaining a full-time student would have been difficult.

"Based on the opportunities I have right now, from a golf perspective I feel it's important to dedicate 100 percent of my time to the game," Fitzgerald said in a statement released by NU.

Fitzgerald played in five fall tournaments for the Wildcats. He was second on the team with a 71.63 scoring average and was co-medalist at Duke's Rod Myers Intercollegiate. He also finished third in NU's Windon Memorial.

Goss understood Fitzgerald's decision. "He has an incredible future ahead of him," said Goss. "We wish him nothing but the best in his career."

Like father, like son

Winnetka resident Dennis O'Keefe, a Western Golf Assn. board member since 1992, has been elected the WGA's chairman. His father Jim was the WGA chairman in 1955-56.

O'Keefe, president of a Lake Forest law firm, succeeds Jim Bunch of Denver as WGA chairman. O'Keefe is a member of the Glen View Club in the Chicago area as well as three clubs in Florida.

Based in north suburban Golf, the WGA conducts the PGA Tour's BMW Championship, the Western Amateur and the Western Junior while raising funds for its Evans Scholarship program for college-bound caddies.

Here and there:

Two new indoor teaching facilities -- The Golf Academy at Terra Cotta in Crystal Lake and Catalyst Golf Performance in Lincoln Park -- have opened recently.

The Illinois PGA announced its 2014 tournament schedule this week with a notable change in the site of August's IPGA Championship. The section's third major tourney of the season will be back at Stonewall Orchard in Grayslake instead of going to Medinah No. 1. The tourney has a three-course rotation, but Medinah No. 1 was renovated last year and it won't return to the tourney rotation until 2015.

• Chicago's Mike Keiser has decided on the architects for his first course at Sand Valley in Wisconsin. The team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore will design the first 18 of Keiser's latest project. His multicourse Bandon Dunes in Oregon has received rave reviews.

• The Illinois PGA will offer free lesson programs from 5-9 p.m. this Friday and again on Jan. 17 at the White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville. Links & Tees in Addison will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

• For more golf news, check out Len can be contacted by email at

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