Mike Small wins the 92nd Illinois PGA Section Championship at Stonewall Orchard Golf Club in Grayslake. Small won his record 11th, section title.
You would think that Illinois PGA Executive director Michael Miller, would just order his staff to put University of Illinois golf coach Mike Small’s name on the trophy in the middle of the first round. Odd’s are even that early in the championship, they would be etching in the right name.
Small’s final round 6 under par 66, blew away the field even though Country Club of Decatur head professional Steve Orrick, gave Small a battle for 9 holes during the final round. Small has now won the title 11 times, in the 14 section championship’s he has played in.
Small took a five shot lead into the final round over Orrick and Conway Farms head professional Matt Slowinski. While Small played good on the front nine, Orrick was better recording four birdies and closing Small’s lead down to three shots at one point.
But things changed on the 10th hole. Small hit it in close on the par 5, and had chance for birdie. Orrick had a chance for birdie as well, but chunked his chip shot and made bogey. Small drained his birdie and lead was back to being 6 shots.
Orrick tried to answer with birdie on 11, but Small matched him with a birdie of his own. The 12th hole saw Orrick’s approach come within four feet of the hole. While Small had a below his feet stance by a fairway bunker. The best Small could do was hit his approach about 25 feet short of the green.
But then Small chipped in the 40 footer he had to the cup for his third straight birdie, Orrick then made his second straight birdie but couldn’t gain any ground on Small again. On the par 3, 13th hole Small missed the green short. Orrick hit it in 20 feet from the stick, but Small’s chip to 3 feet allowed him to get up and down. Orrick missed his birdie putt and the lead was still six shots with five holes to play.
Orrick mounted one final charge, with a 15 foot birdie putt on the 14th hole closing the lead to five. But that’s as close as he could get, with both he and Small making par’s on the remaining holes. Orrick shot 66
Small’s 67-67-66 16 under par score of 200, tied a record low for the championship.
Slowinski had some bogey trouble on the front nine. But he made one birdie and two clutch par saves on the back nine, to earn himself a return trip to the 2015 PPNC at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
Small and Curtis Malm were already into the PPNC field for next year because of Small’s past champions status in the event, and Malm’s top 20 finish this past year.
Besides Small,Malm and Slowinski, earning a trip to Philadelphia in 2015 were Orrick,Cog Hill’s Garrett Chaussard who shot 69 to finish T-3 with Malm. Adam Schumacher of the Indian Hill Club, Frank Hohenadel of the Midlothian CC, 58 year old Jim Sobb of the Ivanhoe CC, David Paeglow Kishwaukee CC, and Jim Billiter from the Merit Club. Medinah teaching pro Travis Johns won a playoff to be the first alternate over Steve Murray. Cantigny’s Connie Demattia is the 3rd alternate.
Click here to hear interviews with champion Mike Small and runner up Steve Orrick.
Small won the $8,000 check for first place. Next years championship will be held on the recently renovated Medinah No.1 course, at Medinah Country Club.