Of the four golfers representing Wheaton among the final 54 golfers who made the cut at this year’s Illinois Open, three were seasoned veterans and one was a high school amateur. Naturally, it was the amateur who made the biggest splash in the final round Wednesday at Hawthorn Woods Country Club.
Tee-k Kelly started the day in a tie for 29th place. But a 4-under-par 67, vaulted him into a tie for eighth place in the final standings and nearly got him a trophy for the best finish by an amateur in the tournament.
“I got off to a rough start,” Kelly said of his final round.. “I was 3-over through three and I wasn’t putting well, so I decided to change putting grips and I birdied my next three holes. I just kind of got the run going from there.”
He finished the round with eight birdies, more than any other golfer on the final day, and only Matt Miller of Bloomington, who finished third in the tournament, matched his score.
Kelly finished second among the amateurs in the field behind only Ravi Patel of Evanston, who carded a 68 Wednesday to wind up 3-under-par for the tournament. Patel just concluded his college career at Northwestern.
“I’m pretty happy with how the tournament went,” Kelly said. “A 1-under finish through three days I thought was pretty solid.”
A highlight of his round was a 30-foot birdie putt he sank on the 236-yard, par-3 15th hole.
“That was my bomb of the day,” he said. “Other than that, it was just consistent 5-8 footers. … I was just putting myself on the right side of the flag and hitting solid putts.”
Kelly tied with three other golfers for eighth place, including Rich Dukelow of Orland Park, a pro at Cantigny Golf. Dukelow shot a 72 in the final round.
“Round three was a good ball-striking round, but nothing happened with the putter and my short game wasn’t very good,” Dukelow said.
“My goal was a top-five [finish] after the first two days, but you know what, it’s OK. I did my best.”
Up and down tourneys for Sanders and Mulhearn
Kyle Sanders of Wheaton finished the day 1-over-par to wind up 4-over for the tournament, good enough to put him in a tie for 23rd. He said his final round was “pretty similar to the first two days -- tons of birdies, tons of bogeys and double bogeys. It was just a total up and down week for me.”
Sanders, an assistant pro at Wheaton’s Chicago Golf Club, finished 48th one month ago in the PGA Professionals National Championship in Hershey, Pa., but hasn’t had a lot of time on the course since.
“Considering since the national club pro how much I’ve played and practiced and the heat and everything, I’m happy,” he said. “I mean, I made a ton of birdies and it was just rusty out there with the bogeys -- just a lot of bad mistakes. Stuff I usually don’t do when I’m playing a lot.”
Danny Mulhearn of Wheaton, pro at Glen Oak Country Club in Glen Ellyn, had a rough final round, carding an 80 to finish 14-over for the tournament.
“I didn’t hit the driver well and I didn’t make many putts,” he said. “It was a tough one.”
Mulhearn, 44, said he was just pleased to make the cut.
“I’ve been in a slump for a couple years,” he said. “I had to qualify [to get into the tournament] again this year and getting in was an accomplishment. … I did pretty well the first two days. Today was just a little off.”
Mulhearn’s focus may have been a bit off as he thinks about the preparations underway for the Illinois State Amateur Championship that will be held at Glen Oak in two weeks.
“The course is in phenomenal shape,” he said. “This little bit of rain is going to help get the rough even healthier then it is already. The guys are going to like it. They’re going to have a good time.”
A thunderstorm and heavy rain delayed the start of Wednesday’s final round at Hawthorn Woods by more than four hours.