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posted: 8/5/2014 9:02 AM

Chicago Open golf tourney returning to Cantigny

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DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Chicago Open golf tournament will return to Cantigny Golf in Wheaton Oct. 5-7, marking both the 100th anniversary of the first tournament and the 25th anniversary of the course, officials from the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau said.

Spectators are welcome at the tournament, which boasts a roster of champions that includes such golf icons as Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

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PGA Tour star and former World No. 1 golfer Luke Donald is a Chicago-area resident who won the event in 2000 as an amateur playing for Northwestern.

The championship again is being conducted by and for the benefit of the Illinois Junior Golf Association. The association is the second-largest junior golf program in the nation, serving 2,800 golfers between the ages of 8 and 18 and managing more than 100 separate events throughout Illinois.

The association also is the umbrella organization for the Mid-American Junior Golf Tour, which specializes in conducting tournaments for higher-level junior players, particularly those seeking exposure to college golf coaches.

In 2013, the event drew a field of amateur and professional golfers from 18 states and three countries, and served as a tuneup to the fall's PGA Tour Qualifying School competition.

The 2013 champion was Carlos Sainz, Jr., an Elgin native and former Cantigny Golf employee. Sainz is now fully exempt on the PGA's Web.com Tour and plans to return to defend his title.

"In reviving the Chicago Open, our goal was to provide an opportunity for aspiring tour pros and top amateurs to compete at a high level as they make their way toward their ultimate goal of playing on the PGA Tour," said Marty Schiene, immediate past president of the IJGA and a former touring pro.

"Playing in a competition with such a rich history can make the event that much more meaningful to the contestants."

IJGA Executive Director Carrie Williams said the group undertook the event to use its expertise in tournament operations to raise much-needed money.

"Administering tournaments is a core competency of the Illinois Junior Golf Association," Williams said. "Reviving the Chicago Open has allowed us to put those skills to work for the betterment of the game at multiple levels."

Professional and highly accomplished amateur golfers will have the opportunity to qualify for or earn exemptions into this year's $50,000 54-hole tournament on specified dates from Aug. 29 to Sept. 23 at sites in Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois -- including the Village Links of Glen Ellyn Monday, Sept. 8.

Qualifiers are open to professional golfers and to amateurs with a handicap index of 10.0 or less. Those interested in registering for a qualifying event -- or in obtaining more information -- may do so online by visiting www.thechicagoopen.com.

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