Midwest Cup grows with Tour pro help

Every year Eric Hjortness, founder of the Midwest Cup championship, thinks of new ways to increase the prestige of the regional amateur tournament, and this year was no different.

The Midwest Cup, a Ryder Cup-style event for some of the top amateurs from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, added two new events to their tournament. The first is a 54-hole individual competition which starts the Friday of the tournament. Hjortness said he wanted to add the event to give the players an opportunity to qualify for national Player of the Year points. The second addition to the tournament is the 12 professionals from the Wisconsin PGA who will play with the amateurs during Friday’s round.

“I looked into it to find out what we needed to do to so players could earn points for national player of the year,” Hjortness said. “Then we took it one step further and asked the PGA pros of Wisconsin to play on Friday with the amateurs.”

Hjortness has been committed to making the Midwest Cup a premier regional tournament, and he said there are certain qualities about the event which make that possible. One way is to get PGA tour professionals from each participating state to be a sponsor for the tournament. He said the tournament already has as many sponsors as last year, including Midwestern PGA Tour professionals Steve Stricker, Mark Wilson, Jerry Kelly, J.P. Hayes and Skip Kendall.

“Getting (those PGA tour pros) was a major goal of mine, and it just shows how generous these pros are,” Hjortness said.

Another one of Hjortness’ goals this year is to raise more money than last year to donate to charity. Every year the tournament raises money for the Evans Scholars Foundation, among others.

“Last year we raised $5,000 in donations,” he said. “(The donations) give the players the chance to give back to the game that has given them so much. This year our goal is to get at least $10,000.”

Hjortness also wants to give the players the opportunity to compete on top-notch courses. This year’s tournament, which is July 29-31, will be at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wis., the location of this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship. As for next year, Hjortness said they are already making plans to expand the tournament to continue the high level of competition.

“Next year we want to expand it to 6 to 8 states for a major regional amateur tournament. It’s the Ryder Cup and team element that makes the event unique among any other major amateur event,” Hjortness said.

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