Local golfer Jeray can't wait to compete in U.S. Senior Women's Open
For nearly four decades Nicole Jeray has been virtually Chicago's lone representative on the Ladies PGA tours.
While she's transitioned from full-time tournament player to full-time instructor at Mistwood, in Romeoville, Jeray, 51, is still an enthusiastic competitor.
This week is her biggest tournament of the season.
She's in the field for the U.S. Senior Women's Open, which tees off on Thursday at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.
Even with a full teaching load at Mistwood and her duties as a high school coach at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park, Jeray can still compete.
She tied for 15th at the Senior LPGA Championship in July and tied for 14th last week in a Legends of the LPGA tournament in Minnesota.
Tournaments are scarce for the top senior women, and Jeray's only other event this season was the Illinois Women's Open.
"There's only a handful of events to play in, but two of the most important ones were in the same week," she said. "After we played the Senior LPGA in Kansas, the players who are teaching had to take a red-eye flight to get to Kingsmill (Virginia) for the LPGA Teaching Division Championship. They got no practice round, then had to play for three more days. I would have been with them except that I had the Illinois Women's Open to play in."
The tournament is a Mistwood fixture so as a two-time Women's Open champion, she couldn't miss it.
Jeray won't have that problem in the Senior Women's Open, but she will have to compete against legendary defending champion Annika Sorenstam, who won the tournament by 8 shots last year.
"You have to be 50 years old to play in the Open (as compared to 45 in the Senior LPGA)," Jeray said. "The younger you are, the easier it is to play, but most of the Hall of Famers will be in the Open because it's such an historical tournament."
Korn Ferry Finals update:
No local players qualified for The Tour Championship, which concludes the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs in Atlanta this weekend. That's not the case in the Korn Ferry Finals. Illinois alums Thomas Detry and Nick Hardy are in a good position going into the second of the three-tournament series.
The Nationwide Championship tees off Thursday with Detry coming off a tie for fourth place finish and Hardy a tie for 15th in last week's Boise Open in Idaho. The Top 25 after the Finals conclude next week at Indiana's Victoria National will earn PGA Tour cards for the 2022-23 season.
Hardy, hampered by a wrist injury that sidelined him for a month in his rookie PGA Tour season, is battling to retain membership on the premier circuit. Detry, from Belgium, was a tour nonmember this year but got in the playoffs thanks to going five-for-five on making cuts in the PGA Tour events he played in.
Boise wasn't so friendly for Northwestern alum Dylan Wu, a PGA Tour rookie, and Patrick Flavin, who earned a spot by notching four top-25 finishes in nine PGA Tour starts. Wu tied for 37th and Flavin tied for 56th.
Both need high finishes in the last two events in the Finals to be PGA Tour members next season.
Coming and going:
Last week's BMW Championship in Delaware marked the second straight year the Western Golf Association took its biggest event out of Chicago. Next year's will be at Olympia Fields, but it'll be a short-lived return for the tournament, which made its last Chicago appearance at Olympia in 2020.
The WGA has announced the BMW will go to Castle Pines, in Colorado, in 2024; Cave's Valley, in Maryland, in 2025; and Bellerive, in St. Louis, in 2026. The choice of Bellerive was impacted by the fact that the President's Cup is scheduled for Medinah that year.
• Illinois Golf Hall of Famer Len Ziehm is on the "Golfers on Golf " radio show from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday on WNDZ, 750-AM. He co-hosts the "Ziehm & Spears Golf Podcast Series" on social media. Past columns are at lenziehmongolf.com.