|Friday, July 26, 2019 - LEMONT, Ill. – River Grove’s Oak Park Country Club, site of the annual Radix Cup Matches, plays host to the 4th CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship, July 29-31. Oak Park, which has hosted all but three iterations of the matches that pit a team of CDGA amateur golfers against a squad of Illinois PGA (IPGA) professionals, will welcome its first CDGA-administered championship since the 6th CDGA Amateur Championship in 1922, won by Ira L . Couch.
A total of 46 teams will play 18 holes of stroke-play qualifying on Monday, July 29 to determine the low-16 duos for match play. The Round of 16 and Quarterfinal matches are slated for Tuesday, July 30, with the Semifinal and Championship matches scheduled for Wednesday, July 31.
The event was created in 2016 to emulate the increasingly popular U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Each competitor plays their own ball, with the lowest gross score from each hole counting as the team’s score.
An event-record 93 teams attempted to qualify for the Championship, with the field being determined by five exemptions and 41 teams who advanced from two qualifiers held in July. Registration was open to any CDGA member with an official USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 10.4.
Teams to Watch
Jordan Less (Elmhurst / Oak Brook GC) and Paul Schlimm, Jr. (Dekalb / Mistwood GC) lost in the Quarterfinals of last year’s CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship to eventual champions Michael Natale and Steve Sawtell. Less won the 100th CDGA Amateur Championship last month at Glen View Club.
Ethan Farnam (Crystal Lake / Crystal Lake CC) and Cameron Karney (Crystal Lake / Crystal Lake CC) will be competing together for the first time in this event. Farnam is coming off his first win in a CDGA-administered championship after capturing the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship earlier this month at Cantigny Golf.
John Ramsey (Glenview / North Shore CC) and Chadd Slutzky (Deer Park / The Grove CC) won the 2017 CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Club at Wynstone, and have made match play in each of the event’s three iterations. Slutzky also has the 2015 Illinois State Mid-Amateur and 2017 CDGA Mid-Amateur titles on his resume.
David Perkins (East Peoria / Quail Meadows GC) and Tim Sheppard (East Peoria / Pekin Park District) earned medalist honors at the Heritage Bluffs Golf Club qualifier on July 1, finishing at 10 under par. Sheppard also has won two of the three CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championships, alongside partner Tom Kearfott, while Perkins has claimed the 2018 CDGA Amateur Championship.
Glenn Przybylski (Frankfort / Sanctuary GC) and Mark Small (Frankfort / Sanctuary GC) earned medalist honors in last year’s CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Mistwood Golf Club, before falling in the Quarterfinals. Przybylski has competed in 11 USGA Championships, while Small claimed the 1996 Illinois State Amateur Championship.
Michael Natale (Burr Ridge / Cog Hill G&CC) and Steve Sawtell (Northfield / Merit Club) are the defending champions, and have won two of three editions of the event, while also making match play in 2017. Sawtell himself is a two-time CDGA Amateur champion (2004, 2009).
Jason Buffone (New Lenox / Sanctuary GC) and Edward Roderique (Frankfort / Sanctuary GC) advanced to the semifinals of last year’s championship at Mistwood Golf Club. The pair has also qualified for three-straight U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championships from 2016-18.
Others to Watch
Tommy Dunsire (Naperville / Medinah CC) and Scott Dunsire, Jr. (Naperville / Medinah CC) earned co-medalist honors in the Blackstone Golf Club qualifier on July 10, finishing at 8 under par.
Michael Fastert (Des Plaines / Sanctuary GC) and Graham O’Connor-Brooks (Lake Bluff / Glen Flora CC) advanced to the Semifinals of last year’s CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship, before falling to eventual champions Michael Natale and Steve Sawtell.
Jackson Wetherbee (Galesburg / TPC at Deere Run) and Drew Eaton (Quincy / Harry Mussatto Golf Course) earned co-medalist honors in the Blackstone Golf Club qualifier on July 10, finishing at 8 under par, and advanced to the Quarterfinals of the 2017 CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Club at Wynstone.
Michael Cascino (Palos Park / Olympia Fields CC) and Jack Mortell (Burr Ridge / CDGA Member’s Club) features a duo of Cascino, who advanced to match play in last year’s CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship alongside brother Dominic, and Mortell, who finished in the top-20 in the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship earlier this month.
OAK PARK COUNTRY CLUB
Founded in 1914, Oak Park Country Club was Donald Ross’ first solo design in the Chicago District. Since, then, the likes of A.W. Tillinghast, and most recently Rick Jacobson in 2006-07, have had a hand in laying the groundwork for the par-72, 6,855-yard track. The main body of water at Oak Park, Auchtermuchty Creek, flows willfully through the course and plays a significant role in the play of the first, fourth and fifth holes.
On No.1, the Creek impacts shots from the tee, all the way through the green of the par 5. No. 4, originally routed as a par 4 by Ross, is known as a gettable par 5 in today’s game. Ross even mentioned in a report following the opening of Oak Park that he thought the fourth should be shortened, claiming an average player would find difficulty in carrying Auchtermuchty.
The fifth will test the best of players, as the Creek crosses not once, but twice, over the course of the difficult par 4. The presence of a single fairway bunker will provide a longer thought process for most, so as to allow time to decide on line and length. Take a more direct route on the left, and the Creek will have to be carried. Lay up and a 175-200 yard approach will await.
Notable names line the history of Oak Park’s Golf Professionals. Horton Smith, winner of the first Masters in 1934, and again in 1937, called the River Grove track home for some time. Dick Metz, with 14 PGA Tour victories, a runner-up finish in the 1938 U.S. Open and a semifinal defeat in the 1939 PGA Championship on his resume, also occupied the title. David Leadbetter, one of the top instructors in the United States, spent two years as a teaching assistant there, having moved directly from England. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Oak Park,” Leadbetter later mentioned. Errie Ball, the last living person to have played in the aforementioned first Masters, also served as the head professional at Oak Park.
Among those who called themselves a member of Oak Park was Harry Radix, a true fan of the game in every sense of the word. From holding Masters badge No. 1, to attending decades worth of U.S. Opens, Radix is known around the golfing community for instituting the PGA Tour’s first ranking system, as well as providing the trophy, in his name, that served as the predecessor to the Vardon Trophy. Locally, Radix served as CDGA President from 1933-1935, and after his death, the Radix Cup Matches were created in his honor, following through on a wish from his will. The matches are now in their 58th year of competition, with all but three having been hosted at Oak Park.
LAST YEAR’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Michael Natale and Steve Sawtell were able to hold on to the 3rd CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship last year at Mistwood Golf Club, outlasting Brian Hickey and Ryan Neill, with a 2-and-1 victory. Holding a 4-up lead through 13 holes, the duo let their lead slip away to just 1 up on the 17th tee. With the arrival of a full-on downpour on the par 3, Sawtell stuck an 8-iron to two feet and rolled in the birdie putt for the victory.