LEMONT, ILLINOIS | Steve Stricker had
good reason to have an affinity for the old
Western Open. He is a child of the Mid-
west, growing up in Wisconsin and attend-
ing college at the University of Illinois.
Next year’s tournament will be the last
of a three-year run at Cog Hill. The 2012
BMW is scheduled to be held at Crooked
Stick in Indianapolis. Organizers don’t
want to compete with the Ryder Cup,
which will be played that year in nearby
But beyond 2012, John Kaczkowski,
president and CEO of the Western Golf Association which runs the tournament, said
the BMW is keepings its options open.
“We’ll see,” Kaczkowski said. “What
happens in 2010 and 2011 will have a lot
to do with 2013 and beyond. Are we going
to come back here every year? Two out of
three years? We honestly don’t know.”
The only certainty is that the BMW will
continue to have a top field as long as it is
part of the playoff series. Tiger Woods was
a regular at the Western Open, and usually
that’s all you need. But the fields weren’t
deep after you got past Woods.
Now as a FedEx Cup event, the BMW
draws a nice collection of international
players and other top stars, such as Phil
Mickelson, who wasn’t a Western regular.
Plus Woods, assuming he qualifies.
“Our field is much better than before,”
said tournament director Vince Pellegrino.
“If you like golf and to see the best play-
ers, we’re the place.”
However, the improved field hasn’t
translated into big crowds for the BMW
in Chicago. By comparison, the Western
did much better with its summer date.
The second round on Friday often was a
smaller, rowdy version of Phoenix. Large
crowds of 50,000 people came out to get
an early start on their holiday weekend.
“Fridays would be crazy,” Kaczkowski
That atmosphere disappeared with
the move to September. Last Friday was
decidedly tepid at Cog Hill. You could even
get a good view of Woods thanks to a relatively small (for him) gallery.
Moving the location
of the tournament
squarely is on the
School is back in session, and in Chicago, sports fans are fixated on one word:
football. The start of the NFL season has
completely drowned out any talk about golf.
“It’s all about the Bears now,” Kacz-
kowski said. “We were more on everyone’s
mind in July. We’re struggling to get any
space in the media. It is what it is. If we
could run this tournament here the first
week of August, we’d be in good shape.”
Moving from the September date
doesn’t appear to be an option for the
BMW. However, moving the location of the
tournament squarely is on the table.