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The Western Open was a professional golf tournament in the United States, for most of its history an event on the PGA Tour. The tournament's founding in 1899 actually pre-dated the start of the Tour, which is generally dated from 1916, the year the PGA of America was founded. The Western Open, organized by the Western Golf Association, was first played in September 1899 at the Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois the week preceding the U.S. Open. At the time of its final edition in 2006, it was the third-oldest active PGA Tour tournament, after the British Open (1860) and U.S. Open (1895). The tournament was held a total of 103 times over the course of 108 years. The event was not held in 1900, nor in 1918 because of World War I, and not from 1943-1945 because of World War II. Golfers from the United States won the tournament 77 times, and players from Scotland won it 15 times. Walter Hagen had the most victories with five wins, and 17 other players won the event at least twice. Two amateurs also won the tournament: Chick Evans in 1910 and Scott Verplank in 1985.
|Location||Chicago metropolitan area|
|Established||1899, 120 years ago|
|Course(s)||Cog Hill Golf & Country Club,|
|Par||71 in 2006|
|Length||7,326 yards (6,699 m)|
|Organized by||Western Golf Association|
|Prize fund||$5 million (2006)|
|Defunct||renamed BMW Championship|
Beginning in 2007, the Western Open was renamed the BMW Championship, part of the FedEx Cup playoff series, and played with the PGA Tour's point system as the sole qualification standard. It is no longer open to amateurs.
The Western Open, founded and run by the Western Golf Association, was first played in 1899 in Illinois at the Glen View Club in Golf, a northern suburb of Chicago Like the U.S. Open, in its early days it was almost exclusively won by immigrant golf professionals from the British Isles, most of whom gained full citizenship to the United States. In its early decades it was widely regarded as one of the premier golf tournaments in the USA, along with other notables of the day like the North and South Open, the PGA Championship and the Shawnee Open.
From the event's inception through 1961, it was played at a variety of midwestern locations, as well as places such as Arizona (Phoenix), Utah (Salt Lake City) and California (San Francisco, Los Angeles). In 1923, it was held in Tennessee at the Colonial Country Club in Memphis.
Beginning in 1962, the Western Open settled within the Chicago metropolitan area and was held at a variety of courses through 1973. In 1974, it found an annual home at the Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook, a western suburb. It was played here through 1990, when the PGA Tour adopted a policy of holding events only at clubs which allowed minorities and women to be members. It moved in 1991 to Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, southwest of Chicago. A 72-hole public complex, its Dubsdread Course hosted the Western Open for sixteen editions, through 2006.
During the second round of the 1975 tournament, Lee Trevino and Jerry Heard were struck by lightning on the 13th green of Butler National while waiting out a rain delay. Also struck at other parts of the course were Bobby Nichols, Jim Ahern, and Tony Jacklin.
In 2007, the Western Open was renamed—and changed in terms of invitational criteria—to the BMW Championship, part of the four-event FedEx Cup Playoff Series. The Western Golf Association continues to run the tournament. The BMW Championship is played the weekend after Labor Day, and is the last FedEx Cup playoff event before The Tour Championship.
- "Scoreboard: PGA Tour". Eugene Register-Guard. July 10, 2006. p. D4.
- Lis, Walter (September 6, 2011). "Western Open Golf Tournament". ChicagoGolfReport.com. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
- "History of the PGA Tour", by Al Barkow, 1989.
- Hanley, Reid (September 12, 1990). "Western moves to Cog Hill". Chicago Tribune. p. 3, sec. 4.
- "Western to move to Cog Hill". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. September 12, 1990. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- Green, Bob (July 4, 1991). "Norman's entry helps Western". The Item. (Sumter, South Carolina). Associated Press. p. 3B.
- Husar, John; Jauss, Bill (June 28, 1975). "Lightning fells 3 at Western Open". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 1.
- Husar, John (June 29, 1975). "Heard may still play in Western". Chicago Tribune. p. 6, sec. 3.
- "Trevino's survival a minor miracle". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 29, 1975. p. 1B.
- "Trevino, two others survive lightning bolts". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 28, 1975. p. 1B.
- "Lightning hits Trevino, 4 other golfers". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. June 28, 1975. p. 11.
- "Lightning is a big shocker for 3 golfers". Miami News. Chicago Daily News Service. June 28, 1975. p. 3B.