Evans Scholars Invite opens Thursday in Westchester
Slowly but surely the pro golf tours are getting back to normal.
PGA Tour Champions, the 50-and-over circuit, will be the first major one to welcome spectators at this week's Sanford International in South Dakota. The PGA Tour, which has gone 14 weeks without fans since ending a three-month break over pandemic concerns, isn't taking spectators and they won't be allowed at the year's final two major championships -- this month's U.S. Open and November's Masters.
The PGA has its first pro-am since resuming play in two weeks at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, and this week's Korn Ferry Tour stop at Chicago Highlands in Westchester is also an indication progress is being made. The Korn Ferry provides players a direct path to the premier circuit.
Chicago Highlands will be the site of a pro-am Wednesday, and limited VIP viewing opportunities will be available for the 72-hole Evans Scholars Invitational, which starts Thursday. Email Connor Claxton at the Western Golf Association (email@example.com) for details. No daily admission tickets are available.
Last year's ESI was held at The Glen Club in Glenview, and the event was to return there in May until the pandemic halted play. The ESI was given new dates, but with The Glen not available, the $600,000 tournament was moved to Chicago Highlands.
Scottie Scheffler, who finished play Monday at the PGA's Tour Championship in Atlanta, won last year's ESI at The Glen. The new dates put the Korn Ferry's two Illinois tournaments on consecutive weeks with Australian Brett Drewitt winning the Lincoln Land Championship, also a $600,000 event, Sunday at Panther Creek in Springfield.
While the Korn Ferry has its largest-ever contingent of Illinois members, the Lincoln Land event didn't bring out the best in them. Only Northbrook's Nick Hardy (tie for 35th) and Lake Forest's Brad Hopfinger (tie for 42nd) played all 72 holes at Panther Creek.
Hardy, in his rookie season on the tour, is No. 17 on the circuit's all-important point list. The Top 25 after the current season ends in 2021 gain membership to the PGA Tour. Hardy doesn't have a win but has five top-10 finishes and made the cut in 15 of 18 tournaments. That steady play has him one spot ahead of Drewitt, last week's winner, in the point race.
Northwestern alums David Lipsky (7) and Dylan Wu (12) are also inside the Top 25, and Deerfield's Vince India (32) and Hopfinger (36) are close.
Sunshine Course work: Renovation work has begun on the three-hole Sunshine Course at the Chicago District Golf Association's Midwest Golf House complex in Lemont. The facility, which opened in 2004, offers programing for individuals with special needs, military veterans and youths.
Wadsworth Construction Co. is spearheading the project. Turf and bunker varieties as well as a variable depth practice green will be added. The course is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2021.
Here and there: While final totals are not in, the Illinois PGA reports Tuesday's Birdies for Charity event at River Forest Country Club pushed the money raised in its 10-year history to over $2 million.
• Roy Biancalana of St. Charles was a 3-stroke winner over Glencoe amateur Ted Pecora and Chicago teaching pro Mike Harrigan in the Illinois Super Senior Open Sept. 2 at Pine Meadow in Mundelein. The CDGA Super Senior event is Thursday at Glenview Park.
• The PGA Tour announced its 2020-21 schedule with the John Deere Classic, the only stop in Illinois, retaining its July 5 to 11 spot, a week before the British Open. The BMW Championship, played at Medinah and Olympia Fields the last two years, is at Caves Valley in Maryland in the FedEx Cup Playoff next year.