Amateurs take center stage this week in local golf
There'll be plenty of tradition in evidence this week in golf's amateur ranks. Heading the busy schedule is the Chicago District Amateur at Bull Valley in Woodstock. It's being played for the 101st time.
The Western Golf Association is contesting its two junior championships, and they are rich in history as well. The Western Junior, first played in 1914, is the oldest national junior championship in golf. The Women's Western Junior Championship was first played in 1920.
None were played in 2020 because of the pandemic.
While the CDGA Amateur is a prestigious event, it'll be without two of Illinois' best amateurs who were the stars of the show the last time the tournament was held. Jordan Less and David Perkins shared the last CDGA Player of the Year award issued in 2019. They also were finalists in the an epic final in the last playing of the CDGA Am, Less winning in 37 holes.
Less of Elmhurst, and Perkins of East Peoria are ready to turn pro. Both completed their college careers, Less at Northern Illinois and Perkins at Illinois State. Perkins plans to turn pro at next month's John Deere Classic. He's in the field for that PGA Tour stop on a sponsor's exemption.
Less will play in the Illinois State Amateur next month, then turn pro at the Illinois Open in August. Less was low amateur in the last two Illinois Opens and a stalwart for the CDGA amateur team in last week's Radix Cup matches.
While Less is ready to make a big jump career-wise, one thing won't change. He'll still be doing most of his practicing at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. Rich Harvest is the home course for Northern Illinois' teams, and owner Jerry Rich is allowing Less to continue to use the private club's facilities though his collegiate eligibility is over.
"I'm excited for Jordan's future, both in golf and in life," Rich said. "I expect to find him honing his skills at Rich Harvest Farms while mentoring Northern Illinois University players and earning his membership on a pro tour."
The CDGA Amateur drew over 300 entries and the field was whittled to 78 through exemptions and four qualifying tournaments. The championship proper opened with a 36-hole qualifying session on Monday, and the low 16 and ties began the match play portion on Tuesday. Quarterfinal and semifinals matches will be played Wednesday and the champion will be crowned in a 36-hole final on Thursday.
Junior doubleheader: The Western Golf Association will conduct its junior championships concurrently, but on different courses. Onwentsia in Lake Forest hosts the boys and Aurora Country Club will be the girls venue.
Both tournaments started Monday with the boys ending Thursday and the girls Friday. The girls championship, held in conjunction with the Women's Western Golf Association, is being played in the Chicago area for the first time since it was at Knollwood in Lake Forest in 2014.
Past winners of the boys tourney include Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk while the girls champions of the past include Christie Kerr and Nancy Lopez. Lopez was a three-time winner from 1972-74.
Here and there: Grace Curran, a University of Minnesota golfer from New Lenox, dominated the 88th Illinois Women's State Amateur at Pine Meadow in Mundelein. She shot a 2-under-par 70 to lead the qualifying round, then won all five of her matches. Megan Furtney of St. Charles and Duke, was Curran's 2 and 1 victim in the title match. Wheaton's Kevin Streelman hovered among the Top 10 at the U.S. Open until a 72-73 finish on the weekend dropped him into a tie for 15th. Still, it was his second-best showing in eight appearances in the finals. He tied for 13th in 2016. Northbrook's Nick Hardy opened 68-69 in the Korn Ferry Tour's Wichita Open, then withdrew after developing a wrist injury. Highwood's Patrick Flavin, who posted a 62 in the third round, wound up in a tie for 10th. ... The top players in the Illinois PGA defeated the CDGA's top amateurs 11-7 last week at River Forest Country Club. The IPGA has a 36-20-2 edge in the series.
• Illinois Golf Hall of Famer Len Ziehm is on the "Golfers on Golf Radio 820" show at 4 p.m. Saturdays. He co-hosts the "Ziehm & Spears Golf Podcast Series" on social media. Past columns are at lenziehmongolf.com.