Don Berry’s 12-year reign as Chicago Open champion is finally over. 27 year-old Elgin native Carlos Sainz, Jr. won the 2013 Chicago Open at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton by two strokes over former University of Michigan star Matt Thompson. Sainz used a blistering 5-under par 31 on the front nine during the final round to seal the come-from-behind victory.
A winner earlier this year on the Canadian Tour, Sainz, 27, of Elgin, carded a 6-under par total 210 in the 54-hole event, with rounds of 71-71-68. He earned $7,000 for the victory. The field included players from 18 states and three countries, with many of the competitors preparing for the next week’s first stage of the PGA TOUR’s Web.com Qualifying school.
“Winning earlier this year really helped a lot ,” said Carlos Sainz, Jr. “I won on a bigger level this year, which was big for me, because I’d never done that. I’ve played four years out there and I got my first win this year. I’ve been improving little by little every year, and this year with the help of sponsors and being able to play full time it has really catapulted me into being a better player.”
A former Cantigny Golf employee, Sainz played consistently aggressive throughout the tournament, allowing him to build an insurmountable lead. With the victory, Sainz is exempt into the December final round of the Web.com Qualifying tournament.
After a 12-year hiatus, The Illinois Junior Golf Association resurrected the Chicago Open this year to help raise money for the 2,500-member organization. The IJGA – where Sainz competed as a junior golfer – conducts 130 tournaments every year for boys and girls ages eight to 18.
Five other players from Illinois finished tied for eighth or better, including Libertyville’s Michael Schachner and Bloomington’s Brandon Holtz (both T-4, 1-under), and University of Illinois head golf coach Mike Small, Matt Miller of Bloomington and Chris Brandt of Edwardsville, who were tied for eighth at 1-over.
First played in 1914 at the legendary Chicago Golf Club, the Chicago Open boasts an impressive list of former champions including Gene Sarazen (1937), Sam Snead (1938), Ben Hogan (1941-42, 1947), Byron Nelson (1945-46), Ken Venturi (1958-59) and Luke Donald (2000).
“The Illinois Junior Golf Association is extremely pleased with the success of the 2013 Chicago Open,” said Carrie Williams, executive director of the IJGA. “To be able to crown a former IJGA competitor helps us highlight the mission of the IJGA and helps underscore the purpose of our reviving this great championship. We are looking forward to having an even better event next year.”