THE 18TH HOLE AND THE TROPHY NOW IN SITE FOR A FEW PLAYERS AT THE 117TH US OPEN at Erin Hills. See USGA.org or USOPEN.com for more information.      _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory to the US Open, and on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With the US Open trophy on the 18th hole.


54 down and 18 holes to go, that’s what several players are thinking as three rounds are in the books at Erin Hills.

For former John Deere Classic Champion Brian Harman, Sunday will be the biggest round of his life, and that is saying something.

You see for Harman, this isn’t his first USGA rodeo. in 2003 Harman won the USGA Junior Championship, in 2005 he was part of the USA Walker Cup team that won at the Chicago Golf Club. A win that earned him and his teammates a trip to the White House to meet President George W. Bush in the Oval Office.

US OPEN LEADER and former John Deere Classic Champion Brian Harman speaks at media day at TPC Deere Run in 2015.

But now 12 years after his Walker Cup win, Harman has a chance to win a major championship. The US Open that it is. Harman shot a third round 5 under par 67, that gave him a one shot lead over three players and it was one of those three that stole the show.

Justin Thomas who already has a few PGA Tour wins this year under his belt, simply went and smashed Johnny Millers US Open record 63 with a 63 of his own.

Thomas shot his 63 on a par 72 course, while Miller did it on Oakmont that was set on a par 71 course. After the round was complete Miller made some comments to Golf Channel since he was on property for a sponsors event. While he congratulated Thomas, Miller said it was a great round for the Milwaukee Open. Miller says Erin Hills with it’s 60 yard wide fairways, certainly isn’t the 22-32 yard fairways seen at tree lined opens in the past.

2017 does seem to be the year of the kinder, gentle USGA, but with Erin Hills being a new US Open venue, the USGA has erred on the side of caution. Toss in some overnight rains to soften things up a bit, and Erin Hills doesn’t have the greatest front line of defense, and these players can attack the greens.

Brian Harman holds the John Deere Classic Trophy after winning in 2014.

Thomas had a short putt for eagle on 18 to make his 63, when he did the gallery went crazy and gave Thomas a well deserved standing ovation.

After a 31 on the front side, Thomas kept up his charge. A 63 at a US Open, and Thomas did have not one but two bogeys.

Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood from England are tied with Thomas one shot back of Harman. Then there is Rickie Fowler who is not dead yet, and only two shots back after a 68.

Click here to hear the interviews with both Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth.

Both Stricker and Spieth basically declared themselves out of it, and that was before both Thomas and Harman went wild in the afternoon. Jordan Niebrugge was over par for his third round, and with Stricker right behind him for two holes in the early going, there were large galleries of Wisconsin-ites in tow. Stricker did birdie three of four holes coming in, but one late bogey didn’t help after a tee shot found a bunker.

Stricker will be hoping for a great final day to make a run at a Top 10 spot which will give him a free pass into the 2018 US Open Shinnecock, but after admitting he was tied in Round 3, it’s hard to believe Stricker has much in the tank for Sunday.

Zach Johnson snuck up the leader board a bit with a 68 that left him T-26 with another veteran Jim Furyk. Johnson called Saturday one of his best rounds this year, as he settles in with his PXG clubs. (more on that coming soon).

Spieth was one of the top players who made the cut. Six of the worlds Top 10 did not, including numbers 1-2-3. But after a +4 (76), he admitted he would head home and start looking for something. Hopefully after round 4 he will talk about his upcoming schedule and maybe a stop at the John Deere Classic.

8:51 is the first tee time in the morning for round 4. The leaders will tee off just before 3 PM, a way too late start, but TV does that to events like this. 32 players broke par in Round 3, a record for the US Open. If Harman wins the US Open he would be the fourth player in history to win the USGA Junior and the US Open. He would join Johnny Miller, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.

THE GOG BLOG returns with a recap of the US Open on Sunday night.



THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory to the US Open at Erin Hills, and on Facebook, linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With the US Open trophy at Gino’s East in Rosemont.

REPORTING FROM ERIN HILLS, site of the 2017 US Open, and the 117th playing of our nations national championship.

There is a log jam at the top of the leader board at 7 under par. So much for everyone being 13 under by the end of Round 2.

Instead the leaders are no further under par after Round 2, than Rickie Fowler was after Round 1.

At 7 under par we have Paul Casey, former John Deere Classic Champion Brian Harman, Brooks Koepka, and Tommy Fleetwood. Fowler is 1 shot back along with Jamie Lovemark. The round of the day went to Chez Reavie who matched Fowlers opening round score of 65.

For all of the Wisconsin fans the good news was that Steve Stricker and Jordan Niebrugge, the home town boys each made the cut on the number at +1 (145). So they are both at Erin Hills for the weekend, bad news is that a pairing of the two players that would have had a huge following, did not happen when the USGA put them one group apart. Niebrugge at 9:10 and Stricker in the next group at 9:21. Had they been paired together it would have been a good pairing for both players who are looking to breakout and post a low number.

There are five past US Open winners in the field for the weekend and they include, Webb Simpson from 2012 at the Olympic Club, Martin Kaymer from 2014 at Pinehurst, Jordan Spieth from 2015 at Chambers Bay, Jim Furyk at Olympia Fields in 2003, and Ernie Els with championships at Oakmont and Congressional.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson ended up +4 missing the cut by three shots, he had the cut made on the number with six holes to play, but three bogeys down the stretch cost him the weekend. 2013 champion Justin Rose missed the cut by 1 shot. But even bigger surprises were Jason Day at +10 and Rory McIlroy who carded a -1 (71) in round two came up four shots short. In his post round press conference Day said McIlroy locked in and was hitting everything flush the last six holes, but by then it was too late. When Johnson’s title defense crashed in the early evening on Friday, it marked the end of world players #1-2-3, who be Friday night trunk slammers at the US Open.

OPEN NEWS..The USGA sadly reported a fan died on property during the round. A 94 year old man, a resident of Wauwatosa a suburb of Milwaukee passed out in the grandstand of the 6th hole. He was given immediate medical attention and taken to a nearby ambulance where he was pronounced dead. It was deceased first day on site at the open.

2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett who has struggled with his game for sometime, posted an 80 in round 1, and then today turned in a WD shortly before his afternoon tee time. Willett said he was suffering from a back injury, which if that’s the case might explain his poor play of late.

IF Brian Harman wins the US Open, he would be the first left-handed champion of the US Open. The US Open is the only major that has never had a left handed champion.

The yardage for Round 2 was 7,839, a little longer than Round 1, in fact the Par 5 18th hole was pushed back all the way to the 676 yard maximum.

FIRST ROUND 3 tee-time is 8:26 Am Tyler Light and Webb Simpson. For more information on the US Open see USGA.com or USOPEN.com.


THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content, follow Rory to the US OPEN, and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy

  THE 117TH US OPEN IS UNDERWAY at Erin Hills in Erin Wisconsin. The 18th hole and bleachers (L) and the US Open Trophy on 15 (R) USOPEN.com for more details.                           THE US OPEN the 117th edition is underway and Rickie Fowler at 7 under par after Round 1 is the leader. Yes even under par a 65, since this years par is 72. Paul Casey is one shot back at 6 under with a group of players at 5 under par.

Steve Stricker, Wisconsin’s very own is at 1 over par 73, after he started birdie-birdie and was quickly 2 under par, but Stricker gave it back with bogeys on holes 3 & 4. Jordan Niebrugge also from Wisconsin also shot 73.

Some of the worlds top players had troubles with Erin Hills. Jason Day needed a birdie on 18 to avoid shooting 80, he carded 79. Rory McIlroy was only 1 shot better with a 78. Defending Champion Dustin Johnson was 3 over par over the last four holes to finish with a 3 over par 75.

” I simply did not putt very well, I missed a lot of good birdie opportunities,” said Johnson. ” That was the key. If I don;t three putt today I shoot even par. I did hit it well enough to day to shoot a good score.”

Phil Mickelson did withdraw from the championship after realizing there was no way he could attend his daughters graduation and make his tee time. The Phil Mickelson announcement along with a blimp crash were the two big stories of the morning along with Fowler going very low. A blimp not affiliated with the USGA or Erin Hills or TV rights holder Fox Sports crahsed near the golf course, shortly after take off. The pilot suffered major burns after an explosion when the blimp hit the ground.

With the Mickelson WD, it marked the first time since 1993 that both Mickelson and Tiger Woods were not in a US Open field. Mickelson was replaced by 30 year old Roberto Diaz of Mexico, the first alternate at the Summit New Jersey sectional qualifying.

Steve Stricker is interviewed after Round 1 at the US Open at Erin Hills.

Fowlers 7 under par 65 tied the lowest first round score in US Open History. The other 7 under rounds were 63’s shot in 1980 at Baltusrol by both Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. The championship was won by Nicklaus. More recently both Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson shot 65’s at Chambers Bay in 2015, but those 65’s were only 5 under par.

With low scores on day 1, what will the USGA do, to make things tougher on day 2, we will see.

Click here to hear interviews with Rickie Fowler and Steve Stricker.

For more information on the US Open visit USOPEN.com


       THE BOOK ON ERIN HILLS by Gary D’Amato, with pictures from Paul Hundley, book signing in the merchandise tent tomorrow 5-7 PM at Erin Hills. The US Open trophy on the 15th hole at Erin Hills, follow the US Open here, or at USOPEN.com or USGA.com.  _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory all week at the US Open, and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.

Home town guy Steve Stricker made no bones about it, he had to make the field at the first U.S. Open in his home state. He did.

His letter for a special exemption into the field was turned down by the USGA, so Stricker had no choice but to go qualify at a USGA sectional site in Tennessee.

The good thing for Sticker, the USGA and all his fans in Illinois and Wisconsin is that Stricker made it through, winning at 10 under par.

Stricker is one of the veterans at US Opens, he has played in plenty of them, but he had to play in this one, even at age 50. Regardless of where he finishes this is one week he will never forget.

Steve Stricker enjoying the fans at Erin Hills site of the US Open. Photo by Joy Sarver.

Stricker opened round 1 with two straight birdies on holes 1 and 2, but then bogeyed holes three and four to fall back to even par.

Since then Stricker has fallen back to +1 after another bogey. He is now +1 with three holes to play in his first round.

His galley is a big one, and the state of Wiscosnin has come out in force to support him, hoping he will be here for all four days of the championship.

The Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Champions Tour event is next week in the Madison Wisconsin area, on the University Ridge golf course. That tournament as well should be a fun one.


Click here to hear the interview with Steve Stricker, as he talks about Erin Hills and his journey to get to the 117th US Open in his home state.

For more on Steve Stricker and the US Open, see USOPEN.com or USGA.com.


                               THE US OPEN IS UNDERWAY Round 1 at Erin Hills, see USOPEN.com for details on the 117th US Open. The first Midwest site in 14 years, and last Midwest US Open for at least 10 more years. Rickie Fowler’s 7 under par 65 is the clubhouse leader in Round 1. _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content, Follow Rory at the US Open, and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy

THE 117TH U.S. Open is underway, and this first timer in U.S. Open play is getting a lot of different thoughts from the players who are playing it.

The fairways at some 60 yards wide are something players and fans don’t normally see, the players need to take advantage of it. If they don’t, they will find some high fescue grasses.

The greens don’t have many humps and bumps in them, which means we might see some long putts holded this week. Question is if the scores do remain low after today, what happens in Rounds 2-3-4. Will the Mike Davis team of Jeff Hall and the others toughen things up.

Click here to hear the US Open interview with Rory McIlroy.

Click here to hear the US Open interview with 2015 US Open Champion Jordan Spieth.

Stay clicked in as we cover the 117th US Open from Erin Hills all week long, and watch the for the interview with Steve Stricker.


THE 2017 US OPEN at Erin Hills Round 1 teeing off today. Dustin Johnson is the defending champion, a few limited tickets are still available see USOPEN.com.               ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory to the US Open at Erin Hills, and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.

The NCAA Championships at Rich Harvest Farms were a big success. in spite of some bad weather, the 2017 championships at RHF had record crowds.

The weather wasn’t always great, but with Northwestern’s Women, and the Men from Illinois playing well, the galleries were good.

But the NCAA has come up with a plan going forward on it’s Division 1 men’s and women’s golf championships. Keep them in the same place for three straight years.

A small group of clubs did make proposals to be the host of the championships in 2020-2021-2022. Clubs that could host two weeks of golf for three straight years.

This years championships were played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove and hosted by Northern Illinois University.


It was reported here first that Rich Harvest Farms owned by Jerry Rich, was one of the finalists.

But in the end the NCAA elected to stay in a very warm weather climate, by selecting the Raptor Course at Grayhawk in Tempe Arizona.

In 2018 the championships move to the Karsten Creek golf Club in Oklahoma with Oklahoma State as the host May 18-30. The University of Arkansas will be the host in 2019 at the Blessings Golf Club, May 18-30.

Then off to Grayhawk for the next three years. Three straight years at one venue is expected to help The Golf Channel and the NCAA staff. Of course maybe some players who might return from year to year, will get an advantage from having seen the course before.

Rich Harvest farms owner Jerry Rich spoke with Golfers on Golf about the decision. Rich said he was not disappointed, saying that Rich Harvest Farms got record ratings and record crowds. Rich also said that the course help up very well in spite of bad weather, and his staff and everyone at RHF got a large amount of compliments from the players, coaches, officials, and The Golf Channel staff.

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division 1 golf championships should now have a great warm weather for the next few years to come. For more information see NCAA.com.

NCAA Golf chairman Brad Hurlbut called the decision a ” difficult one”, and the NCAA was thrilled to get the all the interest it did, from all the clubs that applied.


 WHO NEEDS TWO or Got a Foursome. The last amount of US Open tickets are going quickly as Erin Hills in spite of it’s size is about sold out. US Open Week is underway. Be a part of it, see who the new US Open Champion will be in person USOPEN.com.     ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory at the US Open at Erin Hills, and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.

THE WESTERN GOLF ASSOCIATION is celebrating it’s 100th Western golf Association Junior Championship from June 19-22, at the Park Ridge Golf Club.

The WGA has announced that defending champion Sean Maruyama will attempt to be the first player to repeat as champion in 76 years.

Maruyama has made an oral commitment to play college golf at UCLA, heads up a stellar field of top players.

Maruyama is the son of PGA Tour player Shigeki Maruyama, and Sean collected his first big junior win at the Red Run GC in Royal Oak Michigan in 2016. The last repeat champion Ben Downing in 1940-41.

The championship dates back to the year of 1914 and has been a launching pad for several future PGA Tour stars. Past champions of the championship include Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, and Jim Furyk. Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and 2015 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger have participated in the championship.

The tournament was not held during certain years during WWi and WWII. This will be the first time the championship will be conducted at Park Ridge Country Club that opened in 1906. The original architect for the first nine holes was Herbert J. Tweedie, with Tom Bendelow being brought in, in 1911 to build a second nine holes.

“Given it’s rich history and heritage, Park Ridge is a fitting venue to host an event steeped in tradition as the Western Junior,” said Vince Pellegrino, the WGA’s Senior Vice President of Tournaments. “We are honored and excited to celebrate this momentous occasion with the club and it’s membership. This years field is exceptionally deep, with a mix of local, national and international talent. It’s this level of talent that sets the Western Junior apart from other junior events.”


The Park Ridge Country Club was last renovated in 2001 by local architect David Esler. Golf greats Bobby Jones, Chick Evans and Arnold Palmer have all played the club over the years.

Park Ridge is filling in for original host of the championship the Rich Harvest Farms Golf Club in Sugar Grove. But the championship was moved when dates conflicted with the recently completed NCAA national championships at Rich Harvest.

This year all three of the Western Golf Association championships are being contested in the Chicago area. The Western Amateur will be played at Skokie Country Club in late July and early August. The BMW Championship will be played in mid-September at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.



THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory at this weeks US Open at Erin Hills, and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With the trophy on the 18th green at Erin Hills.

IT’S HERE, US OPEN WEEK in the Midwest, finally after 17 years. So who wins it’s, we will see but I’ll have a thought on this later in the column.

The US Open filled with controversy the last years, with crazy rule infractions, or just crazy courses like at Chambers Bay, or the same course twice in two weeks at Pinehurst, or the course that was supposed to be too small, that played just right at Merion.

The new TV guy on the block Fox Sports needs a great week this time around, it’s year three of the deal.

THE US OPEN TROPHY sits on the 15th tee at Erin Hills.

Some will look ahead to 2018 and Shinnecock Hills, but they need to look no further than Erin Hills to see a splash of Shinnecock in Erin Hills, minus a dead green or two.

Having played both courses, it seems like Shinnecock Hills is more Erin Hills than Erin Hills is Shinnecock. But if you have enjoyed the opens at SHGC out on Long Island, you will enjoy this sandy piece of property located in the far west burbs of NW Milwaukee.

Mike Davis is the Executive Director of the USGA

Will this week be a shinning moment for USGA Executive Director Mike Davis, since he ducked out on a pregame visit with Golfers on Golf Radio to make sure all the final preparations were just right, they had better be.

Only a few years ago, it was Davis that was earning praise for finding new sites like Chambers Bay and Erin Hills, while the PGA’s version of a new championship site was taking sites that the USGA had since abandoned, like Bethpage Black, now after the US Open at Chambers Bay had it’s issues, now Erin Hills is under the spotlight as the second chance for Davis, and he needs to get it right.

Still I give Davis credit for trying new sites, instead of wearing out all the same OLD ones. It would be good to see a new course that has never hosted a US Open before, get one about every four years.

THE USGA dodged a major bullet when Steve Stricker qualified to play in this weeks US Open, had Stricker not been in the field, the USGA would have been run out of America’s Dairyland. It is bad enough that neither of the two finalists from the 2011 US Amateur at Erin Hills, Kelly Kraft and Patrick Cantlay won’t be playing this week in Wisconsin.

BREAKING NEWS PGA of America VP Suzy Whaley to play in the inaugural Sr. LPGA Championship at the French Lick Resort in July. It’s been a while or maybe this is a first time ever that a sitting officer of the USGA or PGA or America has actively played in a major championship on any tour.

GOLFERS ON GOLF will cover the US Open all week, as I will be on site starting tomorrow in Wisconsin.

WINNER.. with the physical demands and length of Erin Hills, the winner will have to be someone in shape to handle that, along with a US Open style game. They will need to be healthy and get their rest. Jordan Spieth is my pick this week.

FOR AN UPCOMING STORY IN CHICAGOLAND GOLF, I spent this morning at Cog Hill with owner Frank Jemsek and Superintendent Chris Flick driving around Dubsdread. If you haven’t played Cog 4 in awhile, it’s time to go back. See my story out around July 1 in Chicagoland Golf.

THE SOUTHERN HILLS Golf Club in Tulsa has been named a future site for Sr. PGA Championship in 2021, and they will get a PGA Championship somewhere between 2024 and 2030.

Which is interesting because club officials told me on my last visit that they would never take a PGA Championship again, because August doesn’t work in Oklahoma, and that June is better. The previous experience the club had with the PGA of America didn’t go so well. I hope if the club is going to host a major, they let architect Keith Foster do something about that annoying ditch that zig-zags the golf course. Plus they have some tree’s that need to go as well.

WWGA Amateur Championship is underway at River Forest CC in Elmhurst. Northwestern’s Hannah Kim is one of three players tied for the lead after the first day at 1 under par, with a score of 71. Kim is joined by Sophia Schubert a University of Texas Senior and Emily White from Saline Michigan.

Click here to hear interviews with Sophia Schubert and Hannah Kim from Round 1 of the WWGA National Amateur Championship.

THE GOG BLOG RETURNS with more on the US Open in the hours ahead. RS


US OPEN TICKETS do you have yours yet. Not many left, visit USOPEN.com and get yours today.

THE 2017 US OPEN WEEK TEE’S OFF TOMORROW, are you ready. The 117th US Open at Erin Hills in Erin Wisconsin. USGA.org or USOPEN.COM should be on your visit list all week long.

Golfers on Golf Radio and Golfersongolf.com will be onsite from Tuesday to Sunday, and next Monday for the playoff if needed. Here is hoping there is no playoff.

OUR US OPEN PREVIEW with all the news will be here late Monday, please check it out. I will be on site at Erin Hills from Tuesday through Sunday. I will be live from Erin Hills on Golfers on Golf Radio next Saturday morning.


DEPAUL UNIVERSITY Men’s Coach Betty Kaufmann has retired and assistant coach Marty Schiene will take over as head coach. Kaufmann spent 19 years as the head coach of the Blue Demons, and raised the program to new levels not seen in the past at DePaul. Kaufmann went out with a strong finish at the Big East Championship. Kaufmann is credited to working out a partnership that allowed it’s program’s work at Ruffled Feathers GC in Lemont.

Schiene said he is very “excited to take over the role of head coach of the DePaul Men’s golf team and hopes to build on the success of Coach Kaufmann.” Schiene joined DePaul after 1 year as an assistant at Loyola and five years as head coach at Chicago State. Schiene played several tours including the PGA Tour in 1993 during his professional career.

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.


FROM THE RESORTS…FOOTJOY has announced a partnership with the famed and historic Pinehurst Resort during this summer.

The FootJoy-Pinehurst package does include a 2-night stay, and two rounds of golf on courses 1 or 3-9 (#2 for an extra $195). A complimentary FootJoy fitting session at the Pinehurst Resort Golf Shop to confirm shoe size and the best choice of Foot Joy footwear to ensure comfort and performance for your game.

Enjoy the famous Pinehurst breakfast and a $100 Pinehurst gift card toward purchase of FootJoy footwear or apparel. Rates are $699 at the Holly Inn or $749 at the Carolina Hotel per person from June 23 to September 5th in 2017. Call (877)-901-8373.

THE 4TH OF JULY AT THE GREENBRIER…America’s Resort is welcoming the guests back in advance of the Greenbrier Championship on the PGA Tour July 3-9. Book by today and receive a complimentary one category upgrade. Call (844)-361-9316.

KEMPERSPORTS has announced it’s been selected to manage to courses in Pierce County Washington. KemperSports already manages Chambers Bay in Pierce County. The new courses are Lake Spanaway and Ft. Steilacoom courses. Lake Spanaway is a over 7,000 yard golf course with championship history, while Ft. Steilacoom is a 9-hole par 34 course, loved by the junior golfers and foot-golf players.

GCSAA the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, has announced that it’s communications manager Craig Smith will retire at the end of the month. Smith joined the GCSAA in 2014, but is well known in the golf industry for his many years as a communications director at the USGA. Smith created the successful “Thank a Superintendent” campaign that has shed light on the members of the hard working and important industry in the golf world.

TGA PREMIER GOLF continues to grow with new franchise in Arizona. The fastest growing junior golf program TGA Premier Golf, has added a second franchise in the Tucson area. TGA is run by Mike Owens. TGA takes golf right into the schools at a grass roots levels. The program gets kids ready for the transition to golf courses. TGA is now in 80 markets across 27 states. For more information see Playtga.com and you can follow TGA on Twitter.



  WHO NEEDS TWO? US OPEN TICKETS RUNNING OUT buy the last few left today at USOPEN.com That rare Midwest US Open appearance is upon us, starting on Monday. ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With Illinois golf coach Mike Small.

Illinois mens golf coach Mike Small has received a sponsors exemption to play in the American Family Insurance Champions Tour event in Madison Wisconsin.

The tournament will be played from June 23-25 at the University Ridge golf Course in Madison Wiscosnin.

Small will join his former teammate at Illinois, Wisconsin’s very own Steve Stricker  who is the tournaments host.

Small turned 50 early last year and is now eligible to play on the Champions Tour. For the third straight year, Small’s Illinois team reached the final four in the NCAA Championships. Prior to that Small was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the 8th time.

Small played 5 years on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour. Since becoming the coach at Illinois, Small has made 34 starts on the PGA Tour, and has made the cut in 15 events. He was the low club pro at the PGA Championship in both 2007-2011, and has qualified for the PGA Championship in seven other years. He has won the PGA Professional National Championship three times.

The 1988 Big Ten Championship Team with Mike Small and Steve Stricker.

This spring Small played as a sponsors exemption at the Tucson Conquistadores Classic. In three rounds Small shot 69-72-73 for a 42nd place finish for his best finish on tour. last year Small was T-43 at the U.S. Senior Open Championship.

During the 1988 Big Ten Championship won by Stricker, Small came in second place.

Tickets are now on sale for the championship. The general admission ticket is $25, the clubhouse ticket is $50 and includes special amenities. Active duty military and retired military can receive a three day-pass for free. Proceeds from the event are donated to the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation and the AFI childrens hospital. More than 1 million dollars was raised last year.

Mike Small speaking on playing in the Steve Stricker AFI Champions Tour event.

Recent additions to the field include 2017 Champions Tour winners Tom Lehman and Scott McCarron. There will be a celebrity foursome on Saturday that includes Brett Farve, Derek Jeter, Darius Rucker and Andy North.

For more details on the championship or to get tickets for the June 23-25 event please visit AmFamChampionship.com or social media sites on Twitter-Facebook and Instagram.