Ziehm: Flavin grinding to make Korn Ferry after rare feat in 2017
In 2017 Patrick Flavin did something very special, winning the Illinois Open and the Illinois State Amateur. Ten players have won both titles, but only Flavin and David Ogrin did it in the same year.
The State Amateur, canceled because of pandemic concerns this year, has been played 89 times and the Illinois Open has been contested annually for 71 years. Ogrin's double came in 1980, so there was a 37-year gap between his accomplishment and Flavin's. The wide spread shows just how special their feats were.
Ogrin won the 1996 LaCantera Texas Open on the PGA Tour, holding off then rookie pro Tiger Woods in the final round to get the win. After a long career as a journeyman on golf's premier circuit Ogrin is now a successful swing instructor in Texas.
Where the Illinois sweep will take Flavin is still uncertain. The Miami of Ohio graduate and Highwood resident delayed turning pro after his big year, opting instead to remain an amateur in 2018. He failed to defend either of his titles in 2018 but did earn a coveted Sweet 16 berth in the Western Amateur that year before turning pro.
Flavin's first professional season in 2019 was promising. He won an event on the PGA's Latinoamerica Tour but the pandemic has limited his 2020 play. The Latinoamerica circuit isn't playing, and Flavin hasn't earned his playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour. Last week he was back in the Illinois Open where he tied for fifth, 6 strokes behind champion Bryce Emory.
With tournaments not so easy to find these days, Flavin has built his season around Monday qualifiers for Korn Ferry events after enduring a three-month layoff when tournament play shut down. Before the pandemic Flavin survived a Monday qualifier to get into his first PGA Tour event, the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
After tournament play was halted he practiced at the Merit Club, in Libertyville, with Korn Ferry members Nick Hardy, Brad Hopfinger and Vince India and his former Miami teammate Brian Ohr.
"Probably the most fun I ever had," said Flavin of those days. "I played and practiced as much as anybody. It was a perfect time for me to practice for Korn Ferry events."
But the only way he could get into them was through those nail-biting Monday qualifiers. He missed a spot in a tournament in Utah, losing it in a playoff. Two weeks ago he made it into a tournament in San Antonio, but it took an 8-under-par round and a chip-in in a playoff to do it.
"I've been to a ton of Monday qualifiers, and they're definitely a grind," he said. "It's not fun playing on Mondays, but having a good attitude makes a big difference. You've got to be mentally tough."
Flavin has some home games for his upcoming Monday qualifiers. The Korn Ferry visits Panther Creek in Springfield for the Lincoln Land Classic Sept. 3-6 and the following week is at Chicago Highlands, in Westchester, for the Evans Scholars Invitational.
Bits & pieces:Winnetka's Elizabeth Szokol, Illinois' only regular on the LPGA Tour, missed the cut two weeks ago when her circuit resumed play but she bounced back with a tie for 25th (worth $13,909) in the Marathon Classic in Ohio last Sunday.
Both Dylan Frittelli, the reigning John Deere Classic champion, and Wheaton's Kevin Streelman cashed in the PGA Championship on Sunday. Frittelli tied for 33rd and won $57,500, Streelman tied for 58th and earned $21,338.
Mike Scully, the former University of Illinois football player who was Medinah's general manager when the club hosted the 2012 Ryder Cup, has moved on to Cherry Creek in the Denver area.