Players forced to pick between 2 of Chicago area's top women's golf tourneys
This is the most recent instance for unfortunate tournament scheduling. The two biggest women's tournaments of the Chicago season are going head-to-head this week.
The 119th playing of the Women's Western Amateur began Tuesday at Royal Melbourne in Long Grove, and the Illinois Women's Open began its 25th anniversary celebration on the same day at Mistwood in Romeoville. The IWO ends Wednesday, the Women's Western on Saturday.
These are both prestigious competitions, and it's unfortunate that players had to choose one over the other.
At least this year's schedule conflict isn't as bad as the one last year, when golf attention was spread among the Women's Western at Mistwood; the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open at Chicago Golf Club, in Wheaton; and the Senior Players Championship, one of the majors on PGA Tour Champions, at Exmoor in Highland Park. The PGA Tour's John Deere Classic, near Moline, was also played that week.
Mistwood hosted both the IWO and the Women's Western last year and Tristyn Nowlin, a University of Illinois standout, finished second in both.
Nowlin, who is from Richmond, Kentucky, and is entering her senior year with the Illini, has opted for the Women's Western this year. She'll be part of a field that is unusually rich in Chicago-area talent.
Rarely have Chicago players been a factor in the Western Am, but this time there are three top-tier Chicago hopefuls. Two of them, Megan Furtney of South Elgin and Sarah Arnold of St. Charles, were teammates on St. Charles North's Illinois high school championship team. Another, Lauren Beaudreau, was the individual state champion. She lives off the Ruffled Feathers course in Lemont.
All three have done big things since the high school season ended, too. Furtney was a winner in the U.S. Golf Association's Four-Ball Championship and qualified for the U.S. Women's Open. Arnold won the Illinois Women's State Amateur title in her first appearance in the event and also qualified for next week's U.S. Girls Junior Championship at SentryWorld in Wisconsin.
Beaudreau qualified for both the U.S. Girls finals and the U.S. Women's Amateur. Those two events are still on her summer schedule. Arnold also will play in the Illinois State Junior and Kentucky Open before the college season starts.
While Arnold admitted to having "swing issues" during Monday's practice round at Royal Melbourne, Beaudreau went in with confidence. She shot 67 and was the medalist in a U.S. Women's Amateur qualifier in Tennessee. The Western begins with 36 holes of stroke play qualifying before the top 32 determine the title in match play,
Then it's on to their freshman year in college -- Beaudreau at Notre Dame, Arnold at Western Kentucky and Furtney at Duke. While their records to this point are impressive, winning the Western Am would take them to a new level. Its past champions include Patty Berg, Louise Suggs, Nancy Lopez, Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn.
Cut coming at Cantigny:
The 89th Illinois State Amateur started with 132 players, and most will be gone after Wednesday's second round. The survivors play 36 holes on Thursday to decide the champion at Cantigny in Wheaton.
This year's State Am drew 497 entries, with 103 earning berths in the finals through eight statewide qualifying rounds. The other 29 were exempt on past performance. Quinlan Prchal was the only past champion in the field. Oldest of the finalists was Tom Fox (59) and the youngest -- for the second straight year -- was Jack Inabnot (15).
The Chicago District Golf Association also announced that Wynstone in Barrington will host the finals in 2020, Mistwood will take the honors in 2021, and Westmoreland in Wilmette will in 2022.
Here and there:
Eagle Ridge, Illinois' premier golf resort in Galena, has a new owner. Mark Klausner, a 20-year resident of the Galena Territory, is the first local owner in the resort's history.
Head coach Mike Small has a new assistant at Illinois. He's Justin Bardgett, who was an assistant at Army when the Black Knights won the Patriot League title and went to the NCAA tournament last year. Bardgett played collegiately at Colorado and played on various pro tours for seven years before entering the coaching ranks. He replaces Zach Barlow, now the head coach at Michigan.
The Women's Western Amateur will stay in the Chicago area for at least two more years. Prestwick, in Frankfort, will host in 2020 and Park Ridge Country Club in 2021.
D.A. Weibring, who the John Deere Classic three times and also was a Western Open champion, has been hired to oversee the renovation of Weaver Ridge, in Peoria.
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