|Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - |
LEMONT, Ill. - Bloomington Country Club welcomes the state’s elite golfers yet again for the 88th Illinois State Amateur Championship, July 17-19. The 72-hole stroke-play championship, considered the premier amateur golf event in the state, will be contested over BCC’s rolling meadows and mature tree-lined fairways for a record eighth time, with the winner hoisting the Louis L. Emmerson Trophy.
The entire 138-golfer field will play 18 holes on both Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18 on the 6,624-yard, par-70 track. The low 35 and ties will advance to the 36-hole final day on Thursday, July 19. The low 20 and ties will earn exemptions into next year’s championship.
ABOUT THE FIELD
The field consists of 29 players who were exempt into the Championship, based on their performance in last year’s event and other CDGA-administered championships, while the other 109 advanced through one of eight qualifiers held throughout the state in June. Championship registration was open to all Illinois residents with an official USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 7.4. In total, more than 500 individuals signed up for the event.
Players to Watch
Jake Erickson (Springfield) has finished in the top-12 of this event in four of the last five years, including a runner-up finish in 2013. He played in the Web.com Tour’s Lincoln Land Championship at Panther Creek Country Club in June as a sponsor’s exemption.
Patrick Flavin (Highwood) is the event’s defending champion, finishing 10-under par in last year’s rain-shortened 54-hole State Am at Calumet Country Club. The recent Miami University graduate also won the 2017 Illinois Open, which marked just the second time an individual won both events in the same year (David Ogrin, 1980).
Jordan Hahn (Spring Grove) set a tournament-record with a 61 in the second round of the 2017 State Am and finished just one stroke behind Flavin. A rising senior at the University of Wisconsin, Hahn advanced to U.S. Open sectional qualifying earlier this summer.
Todd Mitchell (Bloomington) was the last player to repeat as champion of State Am (2002 and 2003) and has finished in the top-eight in 12 of the previous 14 championships. Mitchell also is a four-time CDGA Player of the Year and five-time Illinois State Mid-Amateur winner.
Brian Ohr (Northbrook), a college teammate of Flavin’s at Miami, finished in the top-seven of the last two State Ams, including T3 in 2016. The RedHawk duo also reached the second round of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball in 2017.
Dave Ryan (Taylorville) won the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur and reached the semifinals in 2017. His seventh and most-recent victory in a CDGA-administered championship came at BCC in the 2016 Illinois State Senior Amateur.
Quinn Prchal (Glenview) emerged victorious in the 2012 Illinois State Amateur at The Links at Kokopelli in Marion and finished tied for eighth last year. The former Ivy League individual champion at Princeton has notched top-20 finishes in five of the last six State Ams.
Trent Wallace (Joliet) was the runner up at the 99th CDGA Amateur Championship in June. The rising senior at Illinois State University tied for third in last year’s State Am and has finished in the top-five in each of the last two years.
Others to Watch
Greg Bauman (Chicago) bested the field by four strokes en route to winning the 2017 Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship at Exmoor Country Club.
John Ehrgott (Edwards) has won two Illinois State Mid-Amateur crowns and two CDGA Mid-Amateur titles, the most-recent of which came in May at Hinsdale Golf Club.
Michael Fastert (Des Plaines) was the 2017 CDGA Amateur runner up and reached the Round of 16 in 2018.
Derek Meinhart (Mattoon) was the 36-hole State Am leader in 2015 and has finished in the top-15 three of the last four years.
Tom Kearfott (El Paso) claimed last year’s Illinois State Senior Amateur title and the inaugural CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball crown in 2016 alongside Tim Sheppard (East Peoria).
Tommy Kuhl (Morton) won the Illinois State Junior Amateur by six strokes in June and will begin his collegiate career at the University of Illinois in the fall.Brendan O’Reilly (Hinsdale), a three-time Illinois State Junior Amateur winner, played 25 rounds for the University of Illinois during the 2017-18 season as a freshman.
Kyle Slattery (Rockford), a rising senior at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, reached the semifinals of the CDGA Amateur for the third-straight year in 2018.
BLOOMINGTON COUNTRY CLUB
The course, measuring a meager 6,624 yards for the championship, will feature improvements in bunkering and slick greens that will make up for the lack of distance.
The Illinois State Amateur Championship visits the 122-year-old Bloomington Country Club for the first time since 2009. The William Langford-designed track also has hosted the Illinois State Women’s Amateur Championship five times, the 1980 Illinois Open and the 2016 Illinois State Senior Amateur.
“The course is just spectacular,” said Mark Hirn, the First Assistant PGA Professional at the club. “The bunkering is great right now and the greens are coming back up to speed with a drop in the humidity.”
Recent lengthening of the tees on holes like No. 10, a 406-yard par 4, and No. 17, a 390-yard par 4, will still provide some opportunities for players to be rewarded with a well-placed, long drive that avoids fairway bunkers. However, the risk of playing from the rough and the difficulty around the greens will require accuracy with approach shots.
“It’s not a long course, but the green complexes make it so you can’t miss long, left or right,” said Hirn.
With the recent modifications made to the course, Bloomington remains a true championship test and will add to its place in the history of the Illinois State Amateur Championship.
“It’s going to be a record eighth time hosting event, so we’re excited to have the players out,” Hirn said. “The course is in the best shape it can be right now.”
Two-time Web.com Tour winner Luke Guthrie bested Todd Mitchell and Brad Benjamin by one stroke to win the 2009 State Am at Bloomington. The 16th Illinois State Amateur was the first one hosted by BCC, as Earl Wilde claimed the title in 1946.
LAST YEAR’S STATE AM
Patrick Flavin rallied from four shots back on the rain-shortened final day to win the 88th Illinois State Amateur Championship at Calumet Country Club. The Highwood native carded a 3-under 67 to finish 10-under overall and one shot clear of Jordan Hahn, who had surged to the 36-hole lead with a tournament- and course-record 61 on the second round before posting a 72 on the final day.
Flavin went on to win the Illinois Open later in the summer and earn his fourth All-Mid-American Conference accolade to conclude his collegiate career at Miami University in Ohio. He’ll look to become the first back-to-back State Am winner since Todd Mitchell achieved the feat in 2002 and 2003.
Four former Illinois State Amateur winners are in this year’s event: Patrick Flavin (2017), Quinlan Prchal (2012), Todd Mitchell (2002 and 2003) and Mike Milligan (1974).
- Milligan’s triumph came at Urbana Country Club more than 40 years ago, when he finished 12-under to claim the 1974 title. The Bloomington Country Club member also is tied for the all-time record with three CDGA Amateur victories, which came in 1973, 1974 and 1977. Milligan, 65, last competed in a CDGA-administered championship in 2016, the Illinois State Senior Amateur, which was also at BCC.
- Mitchell is the last player to win back-to-back State Ams, emerging victorious at Cantigny Golf in 2002 and Piper Glen in 2003. The former professional baseball player in the New York Yankees system also has excelled nationally, finishing runner up in the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur and advancing to the Round of 16 at the 2015 U.S. Amateur.
- Prchal overcame Mitchell and a host of others on the final day of the 2012 Illinois State Amateur as an 18-year-old high school graduate. Now 24, Prchal’s collegiate career at Princeton was highlighted by an Ivy League individual title in 2015. The Glenview native has played in every State Am since his victory, finishing seventh in 2013 and eighth in 2017.
- Flavin is seeking to join an elite group of nine golfers who have won consecutive State Am titles. A total of 15 players have won the event multiple times, with Tee-K Kelly’s wins in 2013 and 2015 making him the most-recent to do so.
The State Am will feature two sets of brothers and one father-son duo competing at Bloomington Country Club.
- Pete and Tommy Kuhl, hail from Morton. Pete, 20, is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin, while Tommy, 18, is set to begin his collegiate career at the University of Illinois in the fall. Pete is making his third State Am appearance, highlighted by a T-11 finish in 2016, while Tommy is making his State Am debut after winning the Illinois State Junior Amateur by six strokes in June.
- Branden and Michael Mounce of El Paso are twin brothers. Both play for Bradley University and won the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference title with the Braves. Branden has made the cut in two previous State Ams, while Michael was a 2018 CDGA Amateur quarterfinalist and won the 2018 Bloomington-Normal City Match Play.
- Dave and Zac Ryan are playing in the State Am together for the second time, with the first occurrence coming in 2011 at Glen Oak Country Club. Dave, 64, has achieved success on the national and local level, winning the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2016 and seven CDGA-administered championships overall. Zac, 31, is making his second State Am appearance after advancing from the Sanctuary Golf Course qualifier on June 13.
Springboard for Success
A victory in the State Amateur is oftentimes a springboard to further professional and amateur success. Past champions include the likes of:
- Jim Frisina Sr. (1942, ‘47, ‘54, ‘56, ‘58 champ)
- 13x U.S. Amateur qualifier
- Gary Hallberg (1978 and ‘79 champ)
- Joel Hirsch (1988 and ‘89 champ)
- 2x Senior British Amateur winner
- Jerry Haas (1982 and ‘84 champ)
- Mark Hensby (1994 champ)
- D.A. Points (1995, ‘98 & ‘99 champ)
- Luke Guthrie (2009 champ)
- Vince India (2010 champ)
- Web.com Tour professional
- Tee-K Kelly (2013 and ‘15 champ)
- 1 PGA Tour Latinoamérica win
- Nick Hardy (2016 champ)
- Three made cuts in professional events since turning professional in June
Earlier this month, the CDGA announced the host sites for the next four Illinois State Amateurs. Cantigny Golf in Wheaton will serve as host for the fifth time in 2019, while The Club at Wynstone in North Barrington, Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville and Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette will debut as sites from 2020-22, respectively.
By the Numbers
+5.2: Lowest USGA Handicap Index® in the field, Trent Wallace
+0.8: The average Handicap Index of the 138-golfer field
6: The number of players with Bloomington’s Crestwicke Country Club as their home course, the most in the field. Crestwicke is located about 15 minutes from Bloomington Country Club.
13: The number of players in the field who hail from Bloomington. Park Ridge is the next most-common hometown, with five.
14: The age of Clarendon Hills native Jack Inabnit, the youngest player in the field
26: The combined number of wins in CDGA-administered championships by the field.
27: The average age of the field
52: The number of mid-amateur golfers in the field (age 25 and older), including five seniors (age 55 and up)
65: The age of Mike Milligan, the oldest player in the field
86: The number of golfers in the field age 24 or younger
443: The population of Leaf River, Ill., the hometown of Dennis Reedy.