Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Long Grove, IL plays host this week. The first time the Buy.Com Tour has ventured into suburban Chicago. And while the jury is still out on the long-term success of this event, it certainly has the makings of a great debut.
Eighteen of the top 20 on the money list are here, including No. 1 Cliff Kresge and No. 2 Todd Fischer. Kresge and Patrick Moore have a chance to win for the third time which would send them immediately to the PGA Tour beginning with the Reno-Tahoe Open.
Perhaps most interesting this week is the presence of the world's 63rd ranked player Peter O'Malley of Australia. The European Tour player, who knocked off Tiger Woods earlier this year in the World Golf Championship Match Play event, is in town as the 15th ranked player on the money list.
But O'Malley is really here with two missions. First, he's prepping for next week's PGA Championship at Hazeltine. (Why wouldn't he come to Kemper Lakes to do that?) Secondly, at 15th on the Buy.Com money list he has a chance to win and climb higher in earnings giving him a chance to play the PGA Tour full-time next year. He says that's a goal he would like to achieve.
O'Malley, it seems, is in a bit of a confused state about it all. He says he wants to play the PGA Tour, yet he's not too excited about playing the Buy.Com Tour to get there. He won earlier this year as the Buy.Com Tour began the year 'down-under' in O'Malley's neck of the woods, but hasn't chosen to continue the quest to finish in the Top-15 and earn his PGA Tour card that way.
Seems a bit strange. He says if he plays well this week, he'll play more on this Tour later in the year to achieve the goal. I say, go ahead and give this tour your full-time attention. If you're good enough to be ranked 63rd in the world, he's good enough to finish in the top 15. Heck, he's 15th having hardly made his name known on this tour.
Gene Sarazen won the first Chicago Open played at Medinah in 1937. Sam Snead won the second in 1938 at Olympia Fields. Now the old Chicago Open has a new name, and a tour affiliation as well. The La Salle Bank Open won't have a name like Byron Nelson or Ben Hogan as its winner (each won a Chicago Open). But it will have a great champion, and it definitely has a great venue to let the story unfold.