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Steve Orrick the Director of Golf at the Country Club of Decatur,took the first round lead of the 93rd Illinois PGA Section Championship, at Medinah.
Orrick who played in the afternoon, carded a 4 under par 67, the new competitive course record.
“I think the putting will be the key,” said Orrick. ” But bigger hitters here will have an advantage.”
The championship is being held on the recently renovated Medinah No.1 course, named the “Camel” course.
The first drives of the day were only held up 5 minutes due to the thick morning fog, that dissipated as the first groups were heading to the 1st and 10th tee’s.
Jim Billiter from the Merit Club in Libertyville was first out and with greens in great shape, Billiter shot a 3 under par 68 to take the early lead.
Billiter, the 2015 IPGA Match Play Champion, was quick to admit that he didn’t expect to be leading at the end of the day. Billiter was right, as he was caught but not passed by Matt Slowinski from Conway Farms, and Curtis Malm from the White Eagle Country Club.
The only other player in the field in the field that broke par was John Varner from Beverly Country Club, he shot a 2 under par 69. No players were at 1 under par, but 4 players were at even par 71, including Medinah Country Club teaching professional Travis Johns.
Eight players were sitting at +1 or 72. In the eight was University of Illinois golf coach Mike Small, the two-time defending champion, who has some work to do if he is going to win his 12th IPGA Section title. After his round Small went directly to the range while most of the other players called it a day. It would no surprise nobody if Small made a charge in Tuesdays second round, to get back in contention.
In the clubhouse at 72, was Katie Pius who is playing while being four months pregnant.
The field started with 136 players but there were 3 WD’s so the field has shrunk to 133. It will shrink again after Tuesday second round, when the cut is made. The top 60 and ties will tee it up for the final 18 holes. Tee-times begin at 7:30 AM.
Final round play is expected to wrap up around 1:30 on Wednesday afternoon, with the the trophy ceremony following shortly thereafter.