The area's big tournaments have found the key to attracting Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam: They win here.
Golfers traditionally return to venues where they have enjoyed success. Well, it is hard arguing against Woods' track record at Cog Hill and Sorenstam's at Stonebridge Country Club.
Barring anything unforeseen that means the top of golfers on their respective tours will return to the area again in 2004.
Woods will be the main attraction for the Cialis Western Open, which runs July 1-4 at Cog Hill in Lemont. He was the runaway winner last year, shooting 21-under to beat Rich Beem by five shots.
The Western's biggest plus is being perfectly situated on the PGA Tour schedule. It comes two weeks after the U.S. Open and two weeks before the British Open. That gives the players an opportunity to rest after the U.S. Open and a chance to get a tournament in before going over to Scotland.
Last year's field included Jim Furyk, Mike Weir, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson.
This year's tournament marks the debut of Cialis as the new title sponsor. Cialis is the latest competitor to Viagra in medication for erectile dysfunction.
Kellogg-Keebler returns for the third year as the sponsor of the area's LPGA stop. Sorenstam is expected to be on hand to defend her title June 4-6 at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora.
After winning the inaugural Kellogg-Keebler in a rout in 2002, Sorenstam had to work harder last year, beating Mhari McKay by three shots.
The tournament will be Sorenstam's warm-up for the McDonald's LPGA Championship, which will be held the following week in Wilmington, Del.
The other big pro tournament on the calendar is the LaSalle Bank Open. The Chicago stop on the Nationwide Tour will be June 10-13 at the Glen Club in Glenview.
The LaSalle Bank is making a strong commitment to growing this tournament. It has extended its sponsorship deal to 2009 and increased this year's prize money to $650,000, the highest for a full-field event on the Nationwide Tour.
The Nationwide features up-and-coming players hoping to reach the PGA Tour and one-time successful veterans trying to return to the big time.
Last year marked the Glen Club's debut as a venue for the tournament. It held up well, as Andre Stolz won at 17-under.