The Gog Blog by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation for Golfers on Golf. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy or connect on Facebook or LinkedIn.
T-K Kelly is bidding to one of the few members to win both the Illinois State Amateur, and the Illinois Open.
But an opening round of 6 under par (66) gave Kelly a chance to do just that.
Because Kelly has a two lead over shot over seven players, who are all bunched up at 4 under par. Britt Pavelonis and Garrett Chaussard are both in that group.
Pavelonis from downstate Carbondale has had a few top 5 finishes in the Illinois Open. But no wins. While Chaussard the teaching professional at the Skokie Country Club, has been the king of the Illinois Match Play Championship. Chaussard is looking for his first win in a IPGA Section stroke play major. Chaussard has two wins and two losses in the match play finals over the last four years.
One shot back of the pack of seven players tied for second place, is a group of three players that include four-time Illinois Open champion and University of Illinois golf coach Mike Small.
“I have had only one multi-day event prior to this all year,” said Small who played in Steve Stricker’s Am-Fam Champions Tour 54 hole event in June). “I’m still rusty and need to play more, today I chipped in twice. But just for par.”
Kelly is a different story. Kelly grew up with a family membership at Medinah Country Club. He had a good career playing Division 1 college golf at Ohio State and turned pro.
Since then he has played on various tours, with some success. But not enough success to play full-time on the PGA Tour. As Kelly closes in on age 30 he was asked about how long he will chase the dream of professional golf.
“I’m still making progress with my game, and right now it’s about having enough tournaments to play in,” says Kelly. “As long as I’m feeling like I am making progress and not just staying the same or going backwards, I’ll stay with golf.”
Right now Kelly is really excited about the progress he is making, and feels like the breakthrough he has been looking for, is just ahead. But if he can play rounds two and three like he did in round on, he might find that first break through this week at Stonebridge.
One of the stories of the week, are the new back eight tee boxes, that have lengthened the course about 400 yards.
Illinois Open tournament director Brad Slocum put seven of them into play in round one.
The only one not in use was the 245 yard tee box, on the par 3, third hole. But it’s likely that tee box will see action before the tournament is over.
Because the weather is supposed to stay nice all week long. Much of the field had not played Stonebridge before, so they aren’t able to say how much different the golf course is playing with the new tees. But some players who claim not to be long hitters are noticing the new distance.
OTHER SCORES OF NOTE: Host professional from Stonebridge Andrew Stevens was six shots back at even par (72). Adam Turner who won the 1999 Illinois Open as an amateur is T-2 at 4 under par (68). Turner who turned pro for years, but is now seeking amateur reinstatement. So due to his A-R limbo status, he can’t be paid if he wins, nor is he eligible for the pro shop credit an amateur would get for winning.
Medinah teaching professional Travis Johns who would win the IPGA Grand Slam with a win. Johns is 6 six shots back at even par. Defending champion Bryce Emory is 1 under par after a 71. Both 2019-2021 Illinois amateur champion Ethan Farnam, and past Illinois Open Champion and Stonebridge board member Joe Emrich were at +3 after carding 75’s.
Round 2 tee’s off at 7:30 Am. The top 50 scores and ties will make the cut and play Round 3 on Wednesday.