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Chicago braces for busy stretch: 4 pro tournaments in 6 weeks
It's all about timing this year when it comes to pro golf in the Chicago area this year.
The timing of the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields could make things tricky for the Western Open. Meanwhile, the timing of Annika Sorenstam's appearance in a PGA Tour event couldn't be better for the Kellogg-Keebler Classic.
All in all, the schedule calls for a busy stretch of pro golf, running from the end of May through the 4th of July weekend. There will be four events in six weeks.
In order, there's the LPGA Kellogg-Keebler Classic, running May 30-June 1 at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora. The following week, the Nationwide Tour comes to town with the LaSalle Bank Open at the Glen Club in Glenview, June 5-8.
Then of course, it's time for the main event: the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields Country Club, June 12-15.
Golf fans then will take two weeks off before the PGA Tour visits again with the Western Open at Cog Hill, July 3-6.
The Western knows the summer's focus will be on the U.S. Open. But officials contend fans will come out for the 100th playing of the tournament, which dates back to 1899.
"I don't think the average ticket buyer will be impacted, because the average guy can't get into the U.S. Open," said Western tournament director John Kaczkowski. "The average golf fan can come to Cog Hill and see the same players."
Kaczkowski also expects that many of the top players will make a return trip to the Chicago area. And that includes Tiger Woods, who was a last-minute withdrawal from last year's tournament.
"I haven't heard anyone say they aren't going to come back," Kaczkowski said. "I would be more concerned if there wasn't two (PGA Tour) events between us and the Open."
The Kellogg-Keebler knows it will be getting the LPGA Tour's top player in Sorenstam, who cruised to victory in last year's inaugural event. She also could be the game's hottest player, and that includes Woods.
Sorenstam will arrive in Aurora fresh off her PGA Tour appearance at the Colonial in Ft. Worth. Regardless of how she fares, the hype from that event will carry over.
"There's going to be a big curiosity factor," said Kellogg-Keebler tournament director Mark Hersh. "She's going to bring out a lot of casual fans. I hope she makes the cut. It would be great for women's golf."
The LaSalle Bank Open is sandwiched between the Kellogg-Keebler and the U.S. Open. Tournament director John Petracca isn't concerned, because "we're in a different location." The Nationwide Tour operates on a smaller scale. It features up-and-coming players hoping to reach the PGA Tour, and one-time successful veterans trying to return to the big time. The quality of golf is outstanding, and a prime location like the Glen Club should boast attendance.
"I certainly think anybody who came out last year (at Kemper Lakes) will come out again," Petracca said.
Missing from the local scene is a Senior Tour event this year. The renamed Champions Tour couldn't find a sponsor after SBC pulled out. However, Champions Tour officials hope Chicago will be back on the schedule in 2004.
Here's a look at the tournaments:
What: 103rd U.S. Open
When: June 9-15
Where: Olympia Fields Country Club
Course stats: Par 70, 7,190 yards.
TV: WMAQ-CH. 5
2002 champ: Tiger Woods
Schedule: June 9-11-practice rounds; June 12-15-tournament; June 16-18-hole playoff if necessary.
Future Opens: 2004-Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.; 2005-Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, Pinehurst, N.C.; 2006-Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, N.Y.; 2007-Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa.; 2008-Torrey Pines Golf Course (South), La Jolla, Calif.
What: 101st Advil Western Open
When: June 30-July 6
Where: Cog Hill Golf and Country Club (Dubsdread No. 4), Lemont
Course stats: Par 72, 7,224 yards.
TV: WLS-Ch. 7
2002 champ: Jerry Kelly, 19-under-par 269.
2002 recap: Kelly's 5-under 67 put him two strokes behind first-round leader David Gossett. Kelly shot a second-round 69 and trailed John Cook by four strokes. Kelly's 13-under 204 was two back of Robert Allenby after the third round. Kelly shot a 7-under 65 to finish at 269 and two strokes ahead of Davis Love III. First-place was worth $720,000 to the native of Madison, Wisc.
What: Kellogg-Keebler Classic
When: May 30-June 1
Where: Stonebridge CC, Aurora
Course: Par 72, 6,327 yards.
Ticket info: 888-609-5742
2002 champion: Annika Sorenstam, 21-under-par 195.
2002 recap: Sorenstam ran away with the inaugural tournament, winning by 11 strokes over Michele Redman. Sorenstam, who will play in the PGA's event at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 22-25, shot a 9-under 63 in the first round, a 5-under 67 in the second round and closed with a 7-under 65 to pocket the first-place check of $180,000. Entering the season, Sorenstam had 42 career victories, including 4 majors, and ranked first in women's history with $11,170,368 in earnings. Sorenstam's season: The victory in Aurora was one of 11 LPGA Tour victories by Sorenstam in 2002 as the Player of the Year won 13 times worldwide.
What: LaSalle Bank Open
When: June 2-8
Where: The Glen Club, Glenview
Course: Par 72, 7,149 yards
Tickets: $10 for grounds/clubhouse pass that is good for admission throughout the event. Tickets for CDGA members are $5. For information, call 630-257-2005.
Schedule: June 2-CDGA Foundation Pro-Am, general qualifying (14 spots); June 3-pros practice, junior clinic; June 4-Pro-Am; June 5-8-tournament.
TV: The Golf Channel
2002 champ: Marco Dawson, 12-under 276.
2002 recap: Dawson, winless after 309 pro tour starts, broke through as the Nationwide Tour made its first stop in Chicago. Dawson had rounds of 71, 69, 67 and 69 to beat Darron Stiles by three. By finishing eighth on the money list, Dawson regained his PGA Tour card.
The Glen Club will also the Illinois Open Championship Aug. 4-6. For more information, contact the Illinois PGA, 2901 W. Lake Ave., Suite A, Glenview, 60025. Or call 847-729-5700 or e-mail: email@example.com