Barrington's Janess captures Women's Western Junior, will miss Illinois Women's Open
This year's golf calendar isn't as loaded with big events as it normally is. That's why next week figures to be the biggest of the local season. It features the biggest annual women's event of the year followed immediately by Illinois' only PGA Tour stop of 2021.
The 26th Phil Kosin Illinois Women's Open leads things off at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville. It tees off July 6 with a 36-hole session to determine the qualifiers for the final 18 the following day.
After the IWO the spotlight shifts to Silvis, Ill., near the Quad Cities for the 50th playing of the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic. Neither event was played in 2020 because of pandemic concerns.
Mistwood is beginning an extraordinary stretch as a tournament site, with the Illinois State Amateur coming up just two weeks after the IWO. The women's event is special given the recent selection of its late founder into the next induction class into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is Oct. 1 at The Glen Club in Glenview.
Kosin, who succumbed to cancer in 2009, started the event at Odyssey in Tinley Park. After four stagings there -- and with strong support from then Mistwood owner Jim McWethy -- Kosin moved the event to Romeoville, its home ever since. McWethy passed away last June.
Two-time champion Nicole Jeray, on the Mistwood teaching staff, and recently-crowned Illinois Women's State Amateur champion Grace Curran head the field. Jeray was MVP of the Northern Illinois University golf team from 1989 to 1992 and inducted into the NIU Hall of Fame in 2002.
"Having not held the tournament last year, our entry numbers are a little down," said Andy Mickelson, Mistwood's director of golf. "We probably have a stronger amateur field than professionals."
Mickelson said the purse and champion's payout will be about the same as recent years -- a $20,000 prize fund with $5,000 for the champion, assuming she's a professional.
One for the books: Rarely have Chicago players won the prestigious Women's Western Junior title, but Barrington's Mara Janess pulled off that feat last week at Aurora Country Club. Soon to enter her senior year at Barrington High School, Janess has already committed to play golf at the University of Michigan.
Before she goes collegiate, Janess will take on adults in the Women's Western Amateur, which begins July 19 at Park Ridge Country Club.
"I played in the Women's Western Amateur last year, and can't wait for this year," said Janess, who was the state's Class 2A champion in 2019. "It's such a great field every year, and it's one of my favorite events."
Janess won't play in the IWO because it conflicts with her qualifying for the U.S. Women's Amateur.
The Women's Western Junior has been played for 94 years and rarely has a local player won. Before Janess the last to do it was Kate Lillie of St. Charles in 2016. Carol Mann, an Olympia Fields golfer who went on to a Hall of Fame career, was the Western Junior champion at Inverness in 1958.
Between Mann and Janess there were only three Chicago area winners of the coveted title -- Mari McDougall of Midlothian in 1977, Ashley Armstrong of Flossmoor in 2011 and Lillie.
Here and there: Michael Feagles, a fifth-year senior at Illinois, has joined Illinois State's David Perkins in deciding to begin his pro career at the July 8-11 John Deere Classic. Feagles and Perkins were among six college stars offered exemptions. ... Nick Tenuta, a senior-to-be at Louisville playing out of Mount Prospect Golf Club, won the 101st Chicago District Amateur title with a 5 and 4 win over Butterfield member Brett Tomfohrde of Chicago in their 36-hole title match at Bull Valley in Woodstock. ... Caleb Surrat of Matthews, N.C., was the only player under par for 72 holes in the 103rd boys' Western Junior tourney at Onwentsia in Lake Forest. Finishing 65-67 in a 36-hole final day, Surrat was at 3-under 277 in capturing the oldest tourney in junior golf. He'll play collegiately at Tennessee.
• 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.