Ziehm: Delay in play favors Deerfield's India
The pandemic halted play on the pro golf tours for at least three months earlier this year, but that delay actually helped Deerfield's Vince India.
One of just 10 players to own titles in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open, the former University of Iowa golfer had mainly struggled since turning pro in 2011. He isn't struggling any more, though.
Last week India, 31, had his best-ever finish on the PGA's alternate circuit -- a tie for third in the Korn Ferry Championship at Victoria National in Indiana. Now he has back-to-back tournaments in Illinois to cash in further. The Korn Ferry stops at Panther Creek, in Springfield, for the Lincoln Land Championship beginning on Thursday and visits Chicago Highlands, in Westchester, for the Evans Scholars Invitational beginning on Sept. 10.
Both are $600,000 championships that could go a long way to determining how India finishes out the 2020 season. Five tournaments remain, the last of which concludes on Oct. 11. In past years that's when Korn Ferry's players would learn who would advance to the PGA Tour. Not so this time.
Because of massive changes and tournament cancellations caused by the pandemic the players advancing to the premier circuit won't be decided until the end of the 2021 campaign.
"It was the only logical thing (the PGA Tour) could do,'' said India. "I only feel bad for the players who have no status anywhere.''
With no qualifying tournaments those players will have trouble finding events to play in. India, though, is on a roll. Since Korn Ferry events resumed on June 11 he has made the cut in nine of 10 starts and last week's showing was his third top-10 finish of the season. It enabled him to climb from 54th to 31st on the circuit's point list. When the current season ends next year the Top 25 will receive PGA Tour cards.
India used the three-month break in tournaments to deal with a lingering back ailment. That paid dividends once play resumed.
"During the quarantine I was able to get in the gym quite a bit -- five or six days a week,'' he said. "I was nervous about how I'd feel coming back with eight weeks on the road. We had six tournaments in a row, but I had left Chicago two weeks early. I was surprised how good I felt coming back.''
The last 10 tournaments have helped India forget how last year ended. A double bogey on the last hole of his last tournament not only kept India from a chance to earn his PGA Tour card, it also kept him from the Korn Ferry playoffs. That's a distant memory now.
"I had a hard shot and didn't pull it off -- and that's OK,'' said India. "I have no regrets. That experience can only help me down the road.''
This week's tournament at Panther Creek -- a former Illinois State Amateur site -- was scheduled for July until the pandemic changed things so dramatically. The Evans Scholars Invitational was scheduled for May. Not only did it get new dates, it also got a new course. Chicago Highlands was selected because The Glen Club, in Glenview, wasn't available.
BITS AND PIECES
India wasn't the only Chicago player cashing in at last week's Korn Ferry Championship. Northwestern alum David Lipsky tied for sixth, Glen Ellyn's Andy Pope and Lake Forest's Brad Hopfinger tied for 19th and Northbrook's Nick Hardy tied for 24th.
•The Western Golf Association and First Tee of Greater Chicago have announced a partnership agreement designed to support and develop youth and educational efforts.
•The Illinois PGA will conduct qualifiers for the Evans Scholars Invitational at both Countryside, in Mundelein, and Sunset Valley, in Highland Park, on Monday and then holds its annual Birdies for Charity the following day at River Forest, in Elmhurst.
•John Ramsey, playing out of North Shore Country Club in Glenview, won the 28th Illinois State Mid-Amateur at Edgewood Valley, in LaGrange.
•Orland Park's Erin Cronin has been selected as the Evans Scholar of the Year. She is a caddie at Midlothian Country Club.