Phil Pash's Sports Notes

Pro-Am Details Set: Kenny Perry will be the headliner for the 28th annual Rockford Pro-Am golf tournament Monday, July 26, at Forest Hills Country Club, Loves Park.

That will be three weeks later than the usual date so it doesn’t conflict with the Fourth of July. The event is the nation’s longest-running pro-am not attached to a professional tournament.

Other pros scheduled to participate include: Chris Riley, Jim Thorpe, Billy Mayfair, Russ Cochran, Barry Jaeckel, Jim Carter, Brian Mogg, Keith Fergus, Craig Barlow, Bob Burns, Esteban Toledo, Jay Delsing, Brian Guy, Tripp Isenhour, Jeff Brehaut, John Senden, Steven Alker, Aaron Barber, Zach Johnson, Bo Van Pelt, Danny Ellis, Dean Wilson, Kent Jones, Kevin Na.

Pro recruiter Bob Reitsch Jr. told WTVO-TV-17 he still is working on lining up a couple more pros. One or two could possibly be women, he said.

“We’re glad to have Kenny Perry as our headliner for 2004,” Reitsch said. “Kenny’s a great guy. I’ve read articles this year about what he’s done in his hometown of Franklin, Ky., building a golf course and giving something back to the game and to his community.”

Perry has appeared at the Rockford Pro-Am twice before, including last year. He was elevated to “headliner” status by his “break-out” season last year. He won three events (Colonial, Memorial Tournament and Greater Milwaukee Open) and earned $4.4 million on the PGA Tour.

“Kenny Perry could headline anybody’s golf tournament, and he’s a great friend of pro-ams,” said Rockford Pro-Am Director Judi Sheley.

Admission still will be $5 per person. Also returning this year is the Amcore Best Shot three-hole scramble for the pros.

Award-winning country music singer Lorrie Morgan will perform at the Pro-Am dinner the night before the tournament at Giovanni’s.

Proceeds from the Pro-Am will benefit Northern Illinois Hospice, P.H.A.S.E., the Visiting Nurses Association and the Junior Golf Association of Greater Rockford.

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Junior Course Open: The new four-hole junior golf course at Ingersoll now is open after three years of planning and one year of construction, reported WTVO-TV-17.

An official opening ceremony won’t take place until late June in conjunction with the Tiger Woods Foundation Festival in Rockford. In the meantime, the course slowly will be put into use. A youth clinic with pro instructor Michael Hebron will be held there Sunday, May 16.

Jim Keeling of the Junior Golf Association of Greater Rockford said the new facility will greatly boost golf opportunities for local youngsters.

“This year the number of youth participants will double from 1,800 to more than 3,800,” Keeling told TV-17. “And the amount of instructional time has tripled.”

The Ingersoll course is one of two junior golf projects underway in Rockford. Another golf training facility is being built downtown by the Patriots’ Gateway Center on 5th Street. That facility is scheduled to open next year.

The total cost of constructing, staffing and maintaning the two facilities is $1.4 million. So far, $1.2 million has been raised.

“The last part is always the hardest to raise,” said Keeling. “It shows how generous our community is and that we recognize how important these are to our youth.”

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Benefit Outing: The 14th Arthritis Foundation Golf Play Day is scheduled Thursday, May 20, at Silver Ridge Golf Course in Oregon. Proceeds will support ongoing research and education programs that benefit people with arthritis.

Registration fee is $85 per golfer, or $400 per foursome, including hole sponsorship. Included will be lunch, beverages, putting contest, skill awards, door prizes and dinner. The Arthritis Foundation is at 2400 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford. Call Barbara Berman at (815) 971-6380 for more information.

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Four PGA Stops: There will be four stops on the PGA Tour in Illinois and Wisconsin this summer:

June 28-July 4—Cialis Western Open, Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, Lemont (Tiger Woods won in 2003 and will be back to defend).

July 5-11—John Deere Classic, TPC at Deere Run, Silvis (Vijay Singh).

July 19-25—Greater Milwaukee Open, Brown Deer Park Golf Course, Milwaukee (Kenny Perry, says he will defend).

Aug. 9-15—PGA Championship, Whistling Straits (Straits Course), Kohler, Wis. (Shaun Michael).

Whistling Straits, designed by Pete Dye, features a bit of Ireland and a touch of Scotland on the Wisconsin Lake Michigan coastline. Whistling Straits, which opened in 1998, offers two courses of dynamic contrast. Open, rugged and windswept terrain defines the Straits Course along two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Just inland, interspersed by four meandering streams, the grassland-and-dunes aspect of the Irish Course is a deceivingly tranquil landscape.

In 1999, its first year of eligibility, the Straits Course was ranked 67th on Golf Magazine’s prestigious list of the “Top 100 Courses in the World.” The same magazine placed Straits 35th among the “Top 100 Courses in the U.S.” (September 1999).

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Two LPGA Stops: The Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour will make two Illinois stops this year:

June 4-6—Kellogg-Keebler Classic at Stonebridge Country Club, Aurora, last year won by Annika Sorenstam.

Sept. 2-5—State Farm Classic at the par 72 Rail Golf Club in Springfield.

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