Hardy, Kelly, O’Reilly, Groh, Farnam, Flavin Round Out Field of Players to Watch
GLENVIEW, Ill. – July 26, 2017 – Carlos Sainz, Jr., 31, will return to defend his 2016 Illinois Open Championship title August 7-9 at Briarwood Country Club and The Glen Club. Sainz, an Elgin, Ill. native and Mississippi State University alum, has been competing mostly on the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Tour in South America where he finished T6 at the 70 Avianca Columbia Open and T7 at the BMW Jamaica Classic. Most recently, this past weekend he finished T27 (-6) at the Mackenzie Open in Montreal on the PGA TOUR Canada.
“I’m very excited to return to compete in the Illinois Open and play a great course and venue in The Glen Club,” said Sainz following his third round at the Mackenzie Open. “The Illinois Open was the biggest win for me in the state and I look forward to having my family there to support me.”
Asked about his game, he replied, “The last three weeks have been tough but I had my best finish about a month ago on the Latinoamerica Tour and have been competing on the Canadian Tour now. It’s tough to get used to the grass in North America after playing this season in South America, and it’s tough to defend a title but I’m going to keep doing what I do and look forward to playing these two good courses in Illinois with good players.”
Sainz finished at -17 to win the 2016 Illinois Open Championship where the final round was played at The Royal Fox Country Club. The first two rounds were played at The Royal Hawk Country Club and The Royal Fox Country Club, both in located in St. Charles, Ill.
Notable players in the 68th Illinois Open Championship field include:
NICK HARDY, 20
Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North H.S./University of Illinois men’s golf team – earned a sponsor exemption to compete in the John Deere Classic July 13 – 16 where he had a strong showing against the PGA TOUR pros making the cut and finishing T55, the second-best amateur finish. In 2017, he made the All-Big Ten team, PING All-American second team, and earned a nomination for the Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Award. Hardy also tied for 39th place at the 2017 NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. In 2016, Hardy won the Illinois State Amateur Championship in record-breaking fashion finishing 28-under, the best finish in relation to par since former PGA TOUR player Jerry Haas shot 13-under in 1984. He finished the 2016 Illinois Open Championship T4 (-9), and was the low amateur winning the low amateur trophy.
TEE-K KELLY, 23
Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville H.S./Ohio State University (Class of 2017)– turned pro in 2016 and currently is playing on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica Tour where he already has one victory, which came in June at the Puerto Plata DR Open. Most recently, he finished T27 (-6) with Carlos Sainz, Jr. at the Mackenzie Open in Montreal. Kelly finished T9 (-5) at the 2016 Illinois Open Championship.
BRENDAN O’REILLY, 18
Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S./University of Illinois men’s golf team (incoming freshman) – this Mike Small recruit will soon be joining Hardy in Champaign, and he is one of the younger competitors to watch in this year’s Championship. In 2016, O’Reilly won the Class 3A Illinois State High School Championship Final edging out Ethan Farnam. Recently, he finished T13 in the Western Junior Championship at Park Ridge Country Club. He also won the Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship three times (2013, 2014 and 2017) and is the only player to ever do so.
GARY GROH, 72
Lake Bluff, Ill./PGA Life Member/Retired PGA Professional at Bob O’ Link GC – Groh is one of several past champions competing in this year’s field. A 2017 Illinois Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Groh won the Illinois Open 23 years ago at Royal Fox Country Club. One of the oldest players in the field, Groh won the 1975 Hawaiian Open besting the legendary Arnold Palmer. He recently finished in the Top 20 at the Section’s Senior Championship, an event he has won 11 times.
ETHAN FARNAM, 18
Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge H.S./Northwestern University men’s golf team (incoming freshman) – Wildcat Director of Golf, Pat Goss, didn’t have to travel far to find this young up-and-coming player, choosing to focus on landing this local Chicago-area prospect. Farnam is one of the youngest players in the field but also one of the most promising players competing in the Championship. Farnam has committed to play at Northwestern University beginning in the fall of 2017. In 2016, Farnam had a successful season, winning Northwest Herald Golfer of the Year, qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur, and finishing in 2nd place at the Class 3A Illinois High School State Golf Championship Final. In 2015, he won the Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship.
PATRICK FLAVIN, 21
Highwood, Ill./Highland Park H.S./Miami University men’s golf team (class of 2018) – this rising senior at Miami is coming off a big victory as he recently won the 2017 Illinois State Amateur Championship at Calumet Country Club shooting -10 for the three-day event. He carded a 67 (-3) during the final round to win by one stroke. Flavin earned First Team All-MAC (Mid-American Conference) honors and was named to the MAC All-Tournament team. He won his fourth career collegiate event at the Mountaineer Intercollegiate and was named MAC Golfer of the Week. Flavin was a four-year letter winner at Highland Park H.S. and was named All-State his senior year.
A few other players to watch include Charlie Netzel, Western Springs, Ill. (Michigan State) and Illinois PGA Professionals, Jim Billiter (KemperLakes GC) and Danny Mulhearn (Glen Oak CC).
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