Hardy hoping to get right with 'rehab start' at Glenview's NV5 Invitational
Home sweet home.
That's where Nick Hardy is this week as the Glenbrook North High graduate elected to enter the Korn Ferry Tour's NV5 Invitational at The Glen Club.
Hardy, who earned his PGA Tour card last October, partially dislocated a tendon during his last event and thought this would be a good place to jump start what has been a disappointing rookie season.
"I'm not in the field at the Charles Schwab," Hardy said of the PGA event in Fort Worth, Texas. "So why not come play at home?"
It's been a sound decision thus far as Hardy fired an opening-round 64 on Thursday. He's in a tie for second place, a shot off leader Michael Kim
Hardy, who grew up playing Anetsberger Golf Course in Northbrook and the Merit Club in Libertyville, got off to a solid start on Tour by finishing tied for 36th in the Fortinet Championship in September and tied for 26th in the Sanderson Farms Championship in October.
"I was excited with my game," said Hardy, who made $86,858 in those events. "It's critical to get off to a good start and I got off to an OK start."
Hardy failed to carry that momentum into 2022, however, missing the cut by 1 stroke at the Sony Open in Hawaii, finishing T-67 in The American Express, and missing the cut by 3 strokes in both the Farmers Insurance Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Hardy was 3-under through 12 holes during the first round of the Sony before carding bogeys on 13, 15 and 16. A wayward bunker shot on No. 15 and a 3-putt from 6 feet on No. 16 both proved costly. He bounced right back with a second-round 66, but it wasn't enough.
Seven of Hardy's next nine rounds were 72 or better, but he wasn't going low enough often enough.
"On the PGA Tour you can play well and miss cuts," Hardy said. "It's not like my game is that far off. It's just I've got to be a little sharper; I've got to be a little better. I certainly didn't play bad, but I definitely didn't play to my standards."
Hardy missed three of the next four cuts, but he teamed up with Curtis Thompson in late April to finish T-21 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which is an alternate shot event. Unfortunately, that's also where Hardy injured his left wrist. It happened during the final round on the fourth hole.
"I felt a pop in my wrist," Hardy said. "I knew it was kind of ugly. But luckily no surgery or anything. Just needed to sit out a few weeks for it to heal."
The break might just turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
"I had some time to decompress," said Hardy, who played at Illinois and twice won medalist honors at the Big Ten championship and was named Big Ten Player of the Year as a senior. "It (changed) my perspective in that, wow, I can't play right now. But I think it helped remind me of maybe how good I am at this game, and that I'm very grateful to be where I'm at right now in my career. ...
"In the big picture I know I'm (becoming) a better player, even though I haven't played my best golf on the Tour this year."
Hardy likened his career to the stock market, saying it gets 7 to 10 percent better every year. Like the market, Hardy's game isn't always on a straight line up, however.
There definitely have been trying times that have tested his resolve, including:
• 3-putting the last two holes at Q School in 2019 to miss gaining Korn Ferry Tour status by 2 strokes.
• Missing numerous PGA Tour cuts by 1 stroke while playing on exemptions.
• Missing the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open by 1 stroke.
"I would characterize this as one of those tough times," Hardy said. "But those are the times where you definitely have to reflect in, 'Wow. Let's really revisit a couple things and maybe reinvest in myself and kind of double down in what I'm doing.'"
Hardy plans to play in a U.S. Open qualifier in Ohio on June 6 and then will play in the RBC Canadian Open June 9 to 12.
His goals for the rest of the season remain extremely high -- and in his mind extremely attainable.
"Sometimes you have some peaks; sometimes you have some valleys," said Hardy, whose FedEx Cup rank is 194. "I think I just had a little valley in the last year or so. I'm getting ready to peak here soon. ...
"I'd like to win a tournament this year and definitely play in the FedEx Cup playoffs and get to East Lake (the final FedEx Cup event).
"I have a ways to go for that, but my goals remain pretty high and my belief is very high. None of that's changed."