Wheaton's Streelman pairs with Frittelli this week in New Orleans
The PGA Tour's most unusual tournament has an unusual pairing this week.
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans is a two-man team event that tees off Thursday at TPC-Louisiana, with teams competing at best-ball Thursday and Saturday and alternate shot Friday and Sunday.
It's the only official team event on the PGA Tour schedule, and it also includes a "Team Illinois" -- well, sort of.
Wheaton's Kevin Streelman is paired with Dylan Frittelli, the defending champ in the state's only annual PGA Tour stop -- the John Deere Classic. Frittelli, who played at Texas, had his pro breakthrough when he won the 2019 JDC at TPC Deere Run in Silvis.
Frittelli hasn't made his title defense yet because last year's much-anticipated 50th anniversary of the event was canceled due to pandemic concerns. Now that milestone, together with Frittelli's bid for a repeat title will be played July 8 to 11.
Frittelli never finished higher than a tie for 18th in a Tour event until he won the JDC -- a victory that stirred memories of another player who won for the first time in the Quad Cities.
Frittelli was a senior when Jordan Spieth was a freshman at Texas. Their Longhorn team won the 2012 NCAA title. Spieth immediately turned pro, won the JDC twice along and eventually also captured the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 and the British Open in 2017.
"Jordan came in (to Texas) as the most highly recruited player," Frittelli said in reflecting on his JDC win. "He had a chip on his shoulder, and we pushed each other. I beat him in more tournaments than he beat me at the college level."
Both are still Texans, Spieth residing in Dallas and the South African-born Frittelli in Austin. Frittelli had tried to play on both the U.S. and European tours, but the win at the JDC changed that. He's now an American-based player. His pairing with Streelman was announced during last week's RBC Heritage Classic. Both let good finishes slip away with shaky final rounds on Sunday.
Streelman finished with a 73 and tied for 33rd in the Heritage. Frittelli shot 74 Sunday and dropped to a tie for 56th. Both are trying to improve their positions in the FedEx Cup Playoff standings. Streelman is No. 70 and Frittelli 96.
Doug Ghim, the PGA Tour rookie from Arlington Heights, is No. 74 in the standings. He didn't fizzle on Sunday in Hilton Head, shooting 66 to climb 22 spots to a tie for 33rd with Streelman. Ghim will play in New Orleans with Justin Suh.
Lipsky on a roll: David Lipsky may finally have landed himself a spot on the PGA Tour. Now 32, the Northwestern alum has been runner-up the last two tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Now a Las Vegas resident, Lipsky climbed from No. 8 to No. 4 on the Korn Ferry point list thanks to a 65 Sunday that boosted him 21 places on the tourney leaderboard. He needs to stay in the Top 25 to earn his PGA Tour card for the 2021-22 season.
Northbrook's Nick Hardy, a Korn Ferry rookie, also had a strong tournament in finishing tied for 5th, and he's No. 19 in the point standings.
Here and there: The Chicago District Golf Association has taken over sponsorship of Dave Lockhart's "Golf360" show on NBC Sports Chicago. It'll make its season debut June 5 from Michigan's Harbor Shores course. ... Cog Hill in Palos Park has added Top Tracer technology and will soon add lights and spectator seats to its driving range. ... Heritage Oaks, formerly Sportsman's in Northbrook, will offer Trackman on its range. The facility, undergoing a major renovation, is targeted for a late-July opening. ... Jeff Sluman, making a rare return to PGA Tour Champions after returning as a Chicago area resident, tied for 24th in last week's Chubb's Classic in Florida.
• Len Ziehm, an Illinois Golf Hall of Famer, is on the "Golfers on Golf" radio show at 4 p.m. Saturdays on WCPT AM-820. He co-hosts the Ziehm & Spears Golf Podcast Series. Reach him at lenziehmongolf.com.