Special Golf Coverage from NBCChicago

BMW Championship Field Has Some Local Flavor

Donald, Stricker among those who have made a mark playing golf in Illinois

By James Neveau
|  Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013  |  Updated 10:45 AM CDT
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Local Players Dot BMW Championship Field

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NORTON, MA - AUGUST 30: Luke Donald of England reacts on the seventh green during the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on August 30, 2013 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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Despite the English flag that appears beside his name on the PGA Tour's website, there is one player who is going to feel right at home at this week's BMW Championship at Conway Farms.

That player is Luke Donald, who was born in England but has since made the Chicago-area his home. He attended Northwestern University, where he won the 1999 NCAA Men's Championship and studied art theory and practice. He ended up graduating from the university in 2001 and turned
pro.

Since then, his career has gone swimmingly, with the highlight being his 2011 season, which saw him win finish atop both the PGA Tour and European Tour money lists. He also picked up the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award. All in all, Donald has won five Tour events in his career, but it can be
argued that a victory this weekend at Conway Farms would be extra special.

That's because in addition to vaulting him into the top-30 of the FedEx Cup rankings and ensuring himself a spot in next week's Tour Championship, a win here would also mean that Donald was able to take down a title at his home course. Donald has been a strong advocate of the Tour coming to Conway Farms in recent years, and in an interview with ESPN last month, he explained his emotions when he found out that the Tour would be choosing the course as the
BMW venue.

"I was extremely excited when I heard there was the possibility of coming here, and I pushed pretty hard with the tour to try to make that happen," he said. "I don't know if I had a responsibility for that or not, but I've always enjoyed my time here and Conway has always been gracious to the Northwestern program."

Donald isn't the only player who has made a mark for himself while playing golf in Illinois. Steve Stricker, who was born in Wisconsin, was a standout college golfer at the University of Illinois, and has always been a fan favorite on the tour. He is currently 8th in the FedEx Cup standings.

DA Points, who also attended the University of Illinois and was born in downstate Pekin, is currently 21st in the standings and has a long history of solid play in his homestate, having won three Illinois State Amateur titles. He also lost to Tiger Woods in the quarterfinals of the US Amateur
golf tournament in 1996.

Finally, there's Kevin Streelman, who is 16th in the rankings and was born in nearby Winfield. He has had a largely successful year, winning his first career PGA Tour event at the Tampa Bay Championship back in March after 153 prior attempts. He attended Wheaton Warrenville High School.

Illinois may not have the golfing pedigree of a state like California (home of players like Woods and Phil Mickelson, among others) or Georgia, where Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar both went to college, but the state will be ably represented when the first ball is struck on Thursday morning in Lake Forest.

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