|Thursday, June 23, 2016 - |
LEMONT, Ill. - One of the region’s most grueling and prestigious tests, the 97th CDGA Amateur Championship, awaits a field of 76 top amateur golfers Monday, June 27 through Thursday, June 30 at Calumet Country Club in Homewood.
The CDGA Amateur, which was first contested in 1914 and won by the legendary Chick Evans, begins with 36 holes of stroke play on Monday. The low 16 then advance to a match play bracket, which will begin with two rounds on Tuesday before the semifinals on Wednesday. A champion will be crowned Thursday following a taxing 36-hole championship match.
The 76-golfer field was formed from a combination of exemptions and four qualifiers held throughout the Chicago District in May and June.
Players to Watch
Jordan Fahel (Peoria) won the CDGA Amateur Championship in 2014 and finished second in the stroke play qualifying last year. Fahel, who was one of five players to qualify for the Illinois State Am out of the Den at Fox Creek earlier this month, is one of two past champions in the field.
Todd Mitchell (Bloomington) is a two-time Illinois State Amateur champion. Mitchell has an accomplished match play resume, having advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Championship in 2015, finished runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Mid-Am and twice played in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball match play bracket.
Kyle Nathan (Glenview) won the 2016 CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship. Nathan, the 2012 Illinois State Mid-Amateur champ, has finished in the top-10 at the State Mid-Am and top-15 at the State Amateur in three of the last four years and was a CDGA Am semifinalist in 2013.
Kyle Slattery (Rockford) advanced to U.S. Open Sectional qualifying this year and won the 2015 Rockford City Championship in record-breaking fashion. The rising sophomore at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville competed in all 29 rounds for the Cougars this season, with three top-10 finishes, including a T7 at the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
Chadd Slutzky (Deer Park) won the 2015 Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship in a playoff. Slutzky finished fourth in the 2014 Illinois State Amateur after holding the 36-hole lead and has advanced to match play at the CDGA Mid-Amateur in each of the past two years.
Jordan Wetsch (DeKalb) recently completed his eligibility at Northern Illinois University, where he finished ninth at the 2016 Mid-American Conference Championship. Wetsch also competed in the 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.
Others to Watch
Trevor Gold (Eureka) is a rising sophomore at the University of Illinois who finished in the top 10 in all four years of participating in the IHSA Class 1A Championship—including a pair of runner-up finishes his junior and senior years.
Andy Johnson (Chicago) qualified on the number at Kemper Lakes after earning medalist honors and advancing to the semifinals of this year’s CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship.
Kenneth Li (Hinsdale) won the IHSA Class 3A individual title in 2014 as a junior at Hinsdale Central, after finishing second the previous year.
Andrew Price (Lake Bluff) has finished in the top six in the last three Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championships, including a win in 2014 and playoff loss in 2015.
Dave Ryan (Taylorville) is a six-time CDGA Senior Player of the Year who has won the CDGA Senior Amateur in each of the past two years.
Brett Tomfohrde (Chicago) has advanced to match play in each of the past two years, reaching the semifinals in 2014.
CALUMET COUNTRY CLUB
It’s only fitting that the CDGA’s oldest championship will be hosted by one of its founding clubs.
Since opening in 1901, Calumet has established a championship pedigree thanks to its classic Donald Ross layout and pristine condition. The south-suburban track hosted the 1924 Western Open and the 1945 Chicago Victory Open, which was won by Byron Nelson, in addition to three previous CDGA Ams. The Illinois State Amateur Championship also is slated to visit Calumet in 2017.
Normally a par-71 layout, Calumet’s par-5 10th will be played as a par 4 for the Championship, making it a par-70. Despite playing from just 6,599 yards, Calumet PGA Professional Andrew Stevens believes the accuracy and decision-making required to navigate most Ross designs will be crucial to players’ success.
“Choosing the right angles to come into the green with your second shot is important, so that puts emphasis on where you place the ball off the tee,” Stevens said. “Ross was strategically one of the better architects in the history of the game, along with some of those other golden age architects. They put emphasis on strategy on pretty much every shot, but angles were extremely important for their design elements.”
Another Ross staple, Calumet’s greens severely slope back-to-front, another challenge for the field to navigate.
“The greens are pretty darn slick, so it should provide a good bit of challenge,” Stevens said. “The guy who plays best will likely be keeping his ball below the hole for the majority of the tournament.”
LAST YEAR’S CDGA AMATEUR
Bloomington-native Alex Burge went wire-to-wire to win the 96th CDGA Amateur Championship at Knollwood Club in Lake Forest last June.
Burge, who at the time was between his junior and senior seasons at the University of Illinois, cleared the field in stroke play by three shots before cruising to the championship match with 6-and-5, 5-and-4, 3-and-2 victories. His final match was much more closely contested, as two-time Illinois State Amateur winner Tee-K Kelly took Burge to the 36th and final hole before the latter triumphed 1-up. Neither Kelly nor Burge will be participating in this year’s event due to other commitments.
Back for More
Only two past champions adorn the tee sheet at this year’s CDGA Amateur Championship.
Jordan Fahel battled through blistered feet and 132 holes of golf to earn the victory in the 2014 CDGA Amateur. After the 36 holes of stroke play, Fahel needed the full 18 in his opening round match, then 21 holes to dispatch 2012 Illinois State Amateur champ Quinn Prchal. In the semifinals, Fahel needed 22 holes to claim victory, before defeating Blake Johnson 2 and 1 in the 36-hole championship match. A Fahel success at Calumet would make him the 21st player to win the CDGA Amateur more than once.
Since the turn of the century, Steve Sawtell has been one of the few non-collegiate players to hoist the trophy—and twice at that. In 2009, Sawtell defeated Brad Benjamin (who later that year won the USGA Amateur Public Links), Dave Ryan (six-time CDGA Senior Player of the Year), Max Scodro (had an accomplished career at the University of Notre Dame) and Jeff Kellen (a standout at Illinois State University). In 2004, Sawtell needed to defeat the defending champion (Jay Dempsey) and a future Illinois Open champ (Philip Arouca) on his way to victory. The 45-year-old Northfield native will look to become only the fourth golfer to win the championship three times.
Three pairs of brothers will compete in this year’s CDGA Am, including a set of twins.
Daniel Hudson and Jonathan Hudson hail from Western Springs. Daniel, 20, recently completed his sophomore season at the University of Kansas, where he helped lead the Jayhawks to a NCAA Regional appearance. Jonathan, 19, also calls a Big 12 school home, as he just completed his freshman season at Iowa State University. While Jonathan is making his CDGA Am debut, Daniel played in last year’s event, finishing T25 in stroke play.
Fraternal twins Branden Mounce and Michael Mounce are set to play in their first CDGA Amateur Championship. The El Paso natives recently finished their freshman seasons at Illinois State University. Both played in the Illinois State Amateur Championship last July in Springfield, where they were believed to be the first set of twins to compete together in the event’s 85-year history.
Mike Musgjerd, 31, and Ryan Musgjerd, 24, represent the largest age difference in the three sets of brothers. Both play out of Conway Farms Golf Club, competed for New Trier High School and initially hail from Wilmette.
Home Course Advantage
In addition to hosting the event, Calumet Country Club has the most players in the field with four: Andrew Denenberg, Andy Johnson, K.C. Matkaitis and Mark Sider. Calumet has established itself as one of the top-playing clubs in the area, as Johnson and Sider, in addition to Anthony Sambo, qualified for match play at May’s CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship.
“You could argue the case that Calumet is the best playing club in the state overall,” Stevens said. “With so many low handicap players who also play in a lot of amateur events, I think that argument could be made and could be made very strongly.”
Conway Farms Golf Club, The Glen Club, Olympia Fields Country Club and Winnetka Golf Club each have three members playing at Calumet next week.