Skokie hosts Western Amateur Media Day

Before he won the 2016 Western Amateur, Dylan Meyer had doubts about his game.

A lot has changed since then.

Meyer, of Evansville, Indiana, enters this summer’s 2017 Western Amateur as the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur, an ascent he attributed to his victory last year at Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Illinois.

“It was good for me because I hadn’t really won any type of big event or anything like that,” Meyer said at Thursday’s media day at Skokie Country Club, Glencoe, where the 2017 Western Amateur will be played July 31-August 5. “To really step out and win the Western Amateur, one of the top events in the entire amateur world, was very special for me. It showed I had the strength to do, the mental strength to last that long, to keep grinding it out and playing golf.

“Surviving that entire week was incredible.”

During his junior season at University of Illinois, Meyer won three times and was named the Big Ten’s player of the year. He was one of three finalists for the Ben Hogan Award. Meyer then helped the Fighting Illini to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

“When you win, you get a bunch of confidence,” Meyer said. “That little voice in the back of your head that tells you, ‘Can you do it?’ it shuts it up. You can do it because you’ve done it before, so you can keep on repeating it and repeating it.”

Meyer is one of several highly-ranked players in the field this year. In fact, five of the world’s six already have committed. That includes Texas junior and No. 6-ranked Doug Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Illinois, who was the medalist in 2014 at Beverly Country Club in Chicago.

Other notable players in the field include Meyer's Illinois teammate Nick Hardy, 2015 Western Amateur champion Dawson Armstrong, Cal All-American Collin Morikawa and international standout Kyle McClatchie of South Africa.

This will be Hardy’s fourth appearance at the Western Amateur. He’s qualified for the Sweet 16 twice and advanced to the semifinals of match play in 2014.

“I love coming back to this event because it is such a grueling week and only the toughest survive,” said Hardy, who also was at media day. “It is a grind, and it’s a lot of golf in a short amount of time, but it’s a lot of fun.”

The last time Skokie Country Club hosted the Western Amateur was in 2010. It was won by David Chung.

Peter Mone, a member and co-chairman of this year's Western Amateur, said the club takes pride in its history. One of the highlights was Gene Sarazen’s victory in the 1922 U.S. Open, where he beat Bobby Jones and John Black by one stroke by making birdie at the 18th hole.

“[Sarazen] came back here during our 100th anniversary in 1987,” Mone said. “We had 500 people behind [the 18th hole], and we had a bagpiper bring him up the hill. He walked onto the green, and he had his pork pie hat on and his cane. He tapped on the green and said this where I hit my putt 75 years ago to beat Bobby Jones.”

Meyer looks forward to adding his name next to the legendary Sarazen as a player who won at Skokie Country Club. Meyer said he likes how the classic course suits his game.

“Tree-lined golf courses definitely fit my eye,” he said. “I hit the ball super straight, and I’m pretty consistent with my iron shots. I’m excited to be at this place.”

- Matt Harness/WGA