Glen View Club to host grueling Western Amateur for first time in 116 years
Tiger Woods. Phil Mickelson. Jack Nicklaus. Ben Crenshaw. Curtis Strange. Hal Sutton. Andy North.
That is the golf royalty 156 entrants from around the world will attempt to join when the Western Amateur comes home to the Glen View Club in Golf this week.
The grueling five-day event -- won by each of those legendary pros listed above -- features players from 15 countries, including Australia, China, Germany, Spain, Zimbabwe, Japan, Thailand and Denmark.
Five Illinoisans are slated to tee it up, including Glen View club champion Charles Waddell and a pair of Hinsdale residents -- Mac McClear and Michael Castleforte. The others are Andrew Price from Lake Bluff and Tommy Kuhl from Morton.
Also in the field is defending champion Pierceson Coody, the No. 2-ranked amateur in the world and a member of the 2021 U.S. Walker Cup team.
Glen View Club hosted the inaugural Western Am in 1899 and again in 1905. Now the tournament is back after a 116-year hiatus.
"To see the club come full circle from the early days where it was a national championship venue, to now coming back and hosting an event like the Western Am is so cool," said the 36-year-old Waddell, who will be playing in this tournament for the sixth time.
"There aren't a lot of people in the amateur golf landscape -- or the professional golf landscape -- that get the opportunity to play an event of this nature on their home course. ... I've just been working really hard and am just so excited for the opportunity. I want to represent the club and the membership as well as I can."
The Iron Man-like format goes like this:
• The field will be cut to top 44 and ties after 18 holes Tuesday and Wednesday.
• The final 36 holes of qualifying are played Thursday. The low 16 enter match play.
• There are eight matches Friday morning and four more in the afternoon to determine the final four.
• The semifinals and finals are Saturday.
The final two golfers will play in the neighborhood of 140 holes over those five days.
"I think if you ask any PGA Tour professional who's played in the championship they will say it's the toughest test of amateur golf," said Vince Pellegrino, the senior vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association.
Of the five local entrants, McClear is probably the one with the best chance of advancing to match play.
The 2019 Hinsdale Central graduate and junior-to-be at Iowa captured individual honors at the Big Ten championships at Crooked Stick and won the Spartan Intercollegiate at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia, shooting birdies on the last five holes to win by three.
He also destroyed the old course record of 62 at Hinsdale Golf Club in June by shooting a 58.
Oh, and he just finished in third place at the Illinois Amateur at Mistwood Golf Club last week. McClear tied for first after 72 holes at 13-under par then lost in a playoff.
McClear began golfing when he was 3 and took no lessons growing up.
"A few tips here or there from my dad," McClear said. "I didn't necessarily practice much, but just went out there with friends and we would play a lot. In the summer we'd walk to the first tee and just play until it got dark."
As for Waddell, he has never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in his previous five Western Ams. He made the cut once -- when he was in college.
"It's really hard," he said. "There's so many great players. If I can play well and kind of use a little home-course advantage, I might be able to sneak out and play pretty darn good."
The Glen View Club is a difficult course to walk, so there's little doubt this will be a big mental and physical challenge for everyone.
The event will be livestreamed Friday and Saturday on golfchannel.com.
Attendance and parking are free. Pellegrino suggested Thursday (when the Sweet Sixteen is determined) and Saturday (when the champion is crowned) as the best two days to attend.
119th Western AmateurWhere: Glen View Club in Golf
Who: An international field of 156 of the best amateurs.
Format: Golfers play 18 holes Tuesday & Wednesday, then field is cut to top 44 and ties.
After 36 holes Thursday, field cut to 16 for match play
Sweet Sixteen plays Friday morning; winners play in afternoon to determine final four
Semifinals and finals are Saturday
Notable past winners
Tiger Woods, 1994
Justin Leonard, 1992-93
Phil Mickelson, 1991
Chris DiMarco, 1988
Scott Verplank, 1985
Hal Sutton, 1979-80
Curtis Strange, 1974
Ben Crenshaw, 1973
Andy North, 1971
Lanny Wadkins, 1970
Tom Weiskopf, 1963
Jack Nicklaus, 1961
Chick Evans, 1909, 1912, 1914-15, 1920-23
• Golfchannel.com will be live streaming Friday and Saturday.
• Attendance and parking are free.