Canadian wildfire smoke blanketed Metamora Fields Golf Course in Peoria, Ill., during the first two rounds of the OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois Classic.

Wind gusts and heavy rains halted play during the second round, blowing the eerie haze from the sky. When play resumed, the skies cleared and the sun came out revealing the lushness of the wide fairways and the golden fescue lining them.

Gary Deserrano, managing partner of the All-Pro Tour, stopped his cart as our group walked off the 17th tee. He paused, admiring the glowing evening.

“This is what I envisioned when I visited this place for the first time when it was covered in snow,” he said. Deserrano saw light in the dark. He couldn’t have imagined crowning a champion who better embodies that hope.

There are uncommon weeks in a professional golfer’s season where they can’t miss. Their concentration and focus is so unflappable that they only see the ball’s intended flight to the target. Even when they miss — and they do miss — it’s as if it were a fluke, an anomaly that can be explained as bad luck.

But that’s not most weeks.

Ask Charlie Saxon. I wrote about Saxon’s journey a month ago. His wins across multiple continents and success through the developmental tour ranks were followed by deflating setbacks. Each time Saxon was close to breaking through, injury and poor play would devastate his momentum. Saxon had multiple hip surgeries and eventually lost his swing, his speed, his confidence, and his Korn Ferry Tour status.

“I’m trying to play ‘Charlie golf’ — the golf I’ve played before, the golf that competes and has contended, and the golf that will contend again,” Saxon said to me for last month’s feature article.

Saxon had one of those can’t-miss events this week at Metamora Fields. The relentless golf warrior rediscovered ‘Charlie golf.’ Saxon shot 25 under par to win the tournament, with a final round that included seven birdies in a nine hole stretch. Saxon beat second place finisher, Hayden Wood, by five strokes.

I also competed and quickly found myself in a familiar position: chasing Saxon.

The tournament was the least mini-tour feeling mini-tour event I’ve played in. The APT sold tickets, had dozens of volunteers, featured a drone show, and held a concert headlined by chart-topping country musician Mitchell Tenpenny.

The tournament had free meals for players after every round. In the mini-tour world, that is no small perk.

Read the full story by Mark Baldwin on Monday Q Info here!