Aronimink Golf Club’s membership made it official this week
when it agreed to stage the 2018 BMW Championship at their Donald Ross-designed
gem in Newtown Square.
The BMW Championship is the next-to-last stop in the FedEx
Playoffs on the PGA Tour. The playoff
field is whittled to 70 by the time players arrive for the BMW Championship and
the top 30 then survive and advance to the Tour Championship.
The event tries to trace its lineage to the Western Open,
although that’s a bit of a stretch. The Western Open dates back to 1899 and was
considered a major championship among professional golfers before that term was
really popularized when somebody dubbed the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British
Open and the PGA Championship the Grand Slam. Pretty sure it was a sports
writer who so dubbed those four events the Grand Slam, so take that for what
The Western had a
much longer tradition than the Masters did, but the Masters had Bobby Jones and
all those azalaes and all the sports writers could hit it on the way back from
spring training and voila, it was a major championship.
The one historical connection the BMW Championship has with
the Western Open is that proceeds from the event benefit the Evans Scholars
Foundation, which is the Chicago area version of the J. Wood Platt Caddie
Scholarship Fund run by the Golf Association of Philadelphia. As a proud former
J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Fund recipient, I am all for anything that
There is some concern that a golf tournament played in the
Philadelphia area in mid-September won’t draw flies because all anybody cares
about around here once football season starts is the Eagles, but I have always
thought that was overblown.
I wondered if anybody would come out to Aronimink on a
Fourth of July weekend when the AT&T Championship was staged there in 2010
and 2011, but the galleries were large, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Yes,
there were more people there the first
year when that Woods guy played than there were the second year when he did
not. But a lot of that 2010 following of
Woods had as much to do with the still fairly recent headlines about his
extramarital dalliances than it did with his golf game.
And the Philadelphia golf community got well-deserved kudos
for the way it pulled together to make sure the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf
Club’s historic East Course was a success despite dire predictions that the
physical plant – not just the golf course, but the surrounding area -- just
flat-out didn’t have enough space to stage a 21st-century major
championship. Well, it sort of didn’t, but the membership at Merion, with a lot
of support from Haverford Township and Delaware County in general, Lower Merion
Township, the city of Philadelphia and golf fans all over this region, got it
Among PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s typically
corporate remarks upon announcing that the BMW was coming to Aronimink was,
“Philadelphia is one of America’s great sports cities …” Thanks Tim, but we
already knew that.
“We look forward to bringing a major world-class event to Aronimink,”
said Steven Zodtner, president of Aronimink. “Our membership and the
Philadelphia golf community are excited to partner with the WGA, BMW of North America and the PGA Tour to showcase
our championship golf course and to return professional golf to our region.”
And as golf fans, we can only thank the Aronimink membership
for stepping up to the plate and making their golf course available for a
big-time event such as the BMW.
Turns out the Western was staged in Pennsylvania once in its
previous life in 1959 when Mike Souchak won the event at the Pittsburgh Field
The event had become a staple on the Chicago sports scene
and I’m pretty sure there was some grumbling when the PGA Tour sort of co-opted
the event and said it was going to move it around. Pretty sure there is a
promise that once every three or four years it has to be in the Chicago area,
as it will be this year when it’s contested at the Conway Farms Golf Club in
Lake Forest, Ill.
So if the Western Golf Association and the PGA Tour want to
sell the BMW Championship as a direct descendent of the Western Open, who am I
to argue? I’m just happy that me and the rest of the people around these parts who
love the game will get to see its finest practitioners competing on the grand
stage that is the 7,190-yard Aronimink layout
in about as important – and rich
– an event as you’ll find this side of a major championship.
Kan helps Purdue finish sixth
Aurora Kan, the 2010 PIAA champion at Chichester, and her
Purdue teammates got better every round to finish sixth in the team standings
at the Hurricane Invitational, hosted by the University of Miami at the
Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables, Fla. another classic layout designed – at
the risk of starting to sound like a golf course design geek -- by that Donald
Ross fella who created Aronimink.
The Boilermakers were led by junior Anna Appert Lund, a
Swede who fired a brilliant 4-under 67 in the second round on her way to a tie
for eighth in the individual chase at 3-over 216. Appert Lund sandwiched the 67
with rounds of 75 and 74. Individual honors went to Daytona State’s Tiffany
Chan, a sophomore from China, who had rounds of 71, 71 and 70 for a 1-under 212
Purdue had an opening-round 297 and followed it up with
rounds of 293 and 291 for an 881 total. The Boilermakers’ Big 10 rival
Northwestern put up fairly ridiculous totals of 280 and 282 in the first two
rounds before falling back to earth with a final-round 297 for a 7-over 859
total, but still won the team title by six shots over host Miami (865). Iowa
State finished third at 868, Louisville was another five shots back in fourth
at 873, and another of Purdue’s Big 10 rivals, Minnesota, took fifth at 878,
three better than Purdue.
Sophomore August Kim, the St. Petersburg native playing in
her home state, sandwiched solid rounds of 71 and 70 around a second-round 79
and was Purdue’s second-best finisher in a tie for 21st at 220.
Marta Martin, a freshman from Spain, finished tied for 38th with
consistent rounds of 76, 73 and 73 for a 9-over 222 total. Kan, the team’s
senior leader, finished in a tie for 48th with rounds of 75, 74 and
76 for a 225 total, and freshman Linn Andersson, another Swede, had rounds of
77, 82 and 74 and finished in a tie for 74th with a 233 total.
With Kan and a talented group of youngsters, look for Purdue
to just keep getting better as Kan writes the final act to her career in West
An old rival of Kan’s, Penn State senior Ellen Ceresko, was
in the field along with the rest of the Nittany Lions. Ceresko, the two-time
reigning Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur champion, had rounds of 76, 72 and 75 to
finish in a tie for 34th at 223.
The Nittany Lions finished 15th in the 16-team
field with rounds of 297, 305 and 300 for a 902 total. They were led by senior
Katlyn Elliott, who finished in a tie for 33rd with rounds of 74, 76
and 72 and a 222 total. Junior Elyse Archambault, like Elliott a Canadian,
matched Ceresko’s 223 total with rounds of 71, 80 and 72 to finish in that
group that was tied for 34th.
When Kan won the 2010 PIAA title, she survived a three-way
playoff and one of the participants in that playoff was Stani Schiavone. The
former Bangor standout who started her collegiate career at Baylor, but is now
at Ole Miss, had rounds of 81, 84 and 75 at the Biltmore to finish in a tie for
87th. The Bulldogs were last in the field of 16 with a team total of