Stonebridge fits Tee-K Kelly’s golf game to a tee

Tee-K Kelly’s victory in the Illinois Open was cause for a family celebration.

Tee-K Kelly was the whole show at the 72nd Illinois Open, no question about that.

The Wheaton resident, Ohio State alum and Medinah Country Club member led wire-to-wire in winning the biggest event for Illinois resident.  He was a record-tying 17-under-par, posting a 54-hole score of 199 at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora.

His rounds of 66, 65 and 68 gave Kelly a three-stroke victory over Luke Gannon, a former Southern Illinois golfer from Mahomet, and made him only the 10th player to own titles in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open. The last to do it was Vince India, a regular on the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour. He won the Amateur in 2010 and the Open in 2018.

Kelly compiled one of the best amateur records by a Chicago area player, winning the State Am twice and finishing second once before turning professional after a college career at Ohio State. He had three top-10 finishes in the Illinois Open in the previous four years including a tie for third in 2020 before his breakthrough this week.

“It feels amazing,’’ said Kelly.  I’d put myself in contention in this tournament a fair bit, but it sure is a lot of fun when you pull it out.’’

The first player to claim the Illinois Amateur and Open titles was Gary Hallberg, who went on to a solid career in the professional ranks. He won the Open in 1977 and the Amateur in 1978 and 1979.

“It was absolutely a goal of mine (to win both titles),’’ said Kelly.  “It was really cool because I played a lot of golf with Gary son Eric, and with him as well.’’

Others to own titles in both are Gary Pinns, David Ogrin, Bill Hoffer, Roy Biancalana, Mark Hensby, Brad Hopfinger and Patrick Flavin. All turned pro with the exception of Hoffer, a life-long amateur.

There wasn’t much suspense in Wednesday’s final round, played on a course that hosted the Senior PGA Tour for five years in the 1990s and the LPGA circuit three times from 2002-04.  Stonebridge had not hosted a big tournament since then until it landed the Illinois Open.

Kelly started the day with a four-stroke lead on pro Luke Gannon of Mahomet. Gannon got within three shots twice on the front nine got that close a third time when Kelly hit his tee shot out of bounds at No. 14.

“In the past that would have shaken me up a bit,’’ said Kelly, “but – having my brother Will CHECK on the bag – it didn’t affect me very much.  I just hit a bad shot and wasn’t going to hit another one.  I wasn’t going to lie down and let that affect me.’’

It didn’t.  Kelly made birdies on the next two holes and cruised the rest of the way to a $20,000 first place prize.

Kelly, who stands 6-4, and his caddie-brother Will (6-7) have formed an imposing duo in their six times working together this year.  Kelly came into the Illinois Open off a tie for third in a Forme (formerly Canadian) Tour event and he’ll stay on that circuit with Will on his bag until Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school begins this fall.

BITS: Daniel Hudson, a former Kansas golfer who lives in Chicago, tied the Stonebridge course record with a 62 in the final round.  The 10-under-par mark was set by Babe Hiskey in the 1992 Ameritech Senior Open and tied by  Annika Sorenstam and Rosie Jones in 2003 when the LPGA’s Kellogg Keebler Classic was played at Stonebridge. Hudson climbed into a tie for third place with the hot round that included 10 birdies, an eagle and two bogeys…..Hinsdale’s Mac McClear, who was the Big Ten Conference’s individual champion for Iowa, finished in a tie for fifth and was the low amateur…..Crystal Lake’s Ethan Farnam, who won the last two Illinois State Amateur titles, finished tied for ninth in his bid to become only the third golfer to win both state titles in the same year.


Fast start at John Deere Classic shows how much progress Ghim is making


SILVIS, IL. – Being a rookie on the PGA Tour isn’t easy.  Doug Ghim, who got to golf’s premier circuit after growing up in Arlington Heights, is making headway and Thursday’s first round of the John  Deere Classic provided proof of that.

Ghim came into the JDC with $1,152,732 in season winnings and had made 16 cuts in 23 starts.  While his standing in the Official World Golf Rankings was only No. 217, he is No. 81 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup race.  That pretty much assures he’ll be in the lucrative postseason playoffs.

A 5-under-par bogey-free 66 certainly didn’t hurt Ghim’s cause on Thursday. He enters today’s second round three shots behind co-leaders Sebastian Munoz, from Colombia, and Chesson Hadley.

Ghim is in a five-way tie for seventh place.  Chez Reavie, Camilo Villegas are one stroke behind the leaders and Ryan Moore, the tourney’s 2016 champion, is another stroke back. Joining Ghim at 5-under are Luke List, Kevin Tway, Cameron Champ and Michael Gellerman.

While he attended Buffalo Grove High School, Ghim didn’t play much golf in Illinois his his amateur days. He preferred to play a nationwide schedule of American Junior Golf Assn. events instead and it paid off when he starred at the University of Texas, finished as runner-up in the 2017 U.S. Amateur and was low amateur at the 2018 Masters.

In fact, Ghim played in the John Deere Classic only once, and that wasn’t a happy experience. He got into the 2018 JDC on sponsor’s invitation and, after shooting a first-round 73, he withdrew with a case of food poisoning. That made this tournament more special.

“We don’t have many chances to play in my home state, so I always relish the opportunity to be here,’’ said Ghim.  “I’ve been circling this one on the calendar for awhile.’’

The good start was encouraging, but Ghim was hardly giddy about it.

“It’s a little too early to be talking about the lead, or anything like that,’’ he said.  “Scores are always low here, and I’ll have to keep the pedal down.’’

He’s contended several times, most notably in The Players Championship when he was paired with eventual champion Justin Thomas in the final pairing on Sunday.  Ghim struggled to a 78 and finished tied for 29th.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to make it a real good year,’’ he said.  “I’ve had a lot of growing pains, but considering where I started from last year, it’s a huge improvement.  I’ve learned a lot.’’

One of the tournament’s most popular players, Steve Stricker, is in danger of missing today’s 36-hole cut. He opened with a 1-under 70.

Stricker is a legend in this PGA Tour stop, which is three hours from his Wisconsin home.  He won the JDC three straight times, from 2009 to 2011. He’s won more money in the tournament than anyone else, and he was 186 strokes under par in his first 17 appearances in the tournament.

In this his 18th visit, though, he is 54 years old. Nobody else in the field has reached his 50th birthday. The oldest previous winner on the PGA Tour was Sam Snead, who was 52 when he won the Greater Greensboro Open, and that was three years before Stricker was born.  Stricker wants to beat Snead’s record, and the bad first round won’t help.

“It was an early wakeup call,’’ said Stricker.  “I’m not used to getting up at 5 in the morning anymore to play.  I played like I was still asleep for awhile. Hopefully I can come back tomorrow and put up a good number.’’

In addition to being the U.S. Ryder Cup captain Stricker is a PGA Champions Tour mainstay now – and he’s been a good one.

Last year he won the U.S. Senior Open, and he won another Champions’ major in his last start, taking the Bridgestone Senior Players at rugged Firestone two weeks ago by a whopping six strokes. After that he opted for a return to the JDC even though it conflicted with what would have been his title defense in the U.S. Senior Open.

“I wish they weren’t the exact same week, but I’m glad I’m here,’’ said Stricker. “It’s a special place for me and my family.’’




Illini alum Nowlin is now two-for-two in state open tourneys

Tristyn Nowlin finally won a big golf tournament at Mistwood on Wednesday.

The University of Illinois graduate student from Richmond, Ky., who turned pro two weeks ago, was a runner-up on the Romeoville course twice in 2018.  That year she dropped a match play final to Emilee Hoffman in the Women’s Western Amateur and was edged by Northwestern alum Hannah Kim in a three-day, 54-hole stroke play format at the Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open.

Nowlin wasn’t stymied playing a third different competitive format at Mistwood – 54 holes over just two days – in her return to the IWO. She held off another graduate student who just turned pro, Loukyee Songprasert, in a tense final round to keep her winning streak alive in state open tournaments.

Last week Nowlin won the Michigan PGA Women’s Open at Crystal Mountain.  She’ll follow her win in the IWO with state opens in her home state of Kentucky next week and then compete in similar events in Tennessee and Florida before going to the Symetra Tours qualifying tournament at Mission Inn in California in the fall.

“This whole week was a real blast,’’ said Nowlin.  “This course welcomes you right in, and those previous tournaments gave me a little edge, in that I knew I could play well here.’’

After going 69-69 in the tourney’s 36-hole opening day on Tuesday she managed a 70 on Wednesday to finish at 8-under-par 208. That was two better than Songprasert, who shot the best round of the week – a 67 on Tuesday to get within a shot of Nowlin going into the final 18.

Songprasert, who attended high school in Thailand before doing her undergraduate work at West Texas A&M, pulled even twice in the final round before Nowlin took the lead for good at No. 16. She made birdie there and Songprasert three-putted the next hole for a bogey to fall two shots back.  Both parred the finishing hole.

“In the second round I was more aggressive, and it turned out real good,’’ said Songprasert, who is living in Bloomingdale this summer and working at Medinah Country Club under the guidance of director of instruction Travis Johns. “Today I tried to be more aggressive again, because I was behind, but it didn’t happen. I lipped out four or five birdie putts.’’

Nowlin, who is finishing up work on a Masters degree in sports management at Illinois, had some lipouts, too, but her familiarity with the Mistwood setting helped her overcome that.  Bing Singhsumalee, a former Illini teammate, was her caddie the first two days and another Illini, senior-to-be Crystal Wang, ended up in third place and was the tourney’s low amateur.

The IWO, which was canceled last year because of pandemic concerns, was staged for the 26th time.  Nowlin picked up $5,000 from a $20,000 purse for her victory.

It was Mistwood’s first of two major tournaments in July. The finals of the 90th Illinois State Amateur will be played there July 20-22.








Nowlin leads in a day of memories at the Illinois Women’s Open

Tuesday marked the start of the biggest six days of tournament golf in Illinois this year. The 26th Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open, at Mistwood in Romeoville, started things off with a 36-hole session.  The final round is Wednesday (TODAY) and then the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic begins its four-day run on Thursday in downstate Silvis.

Neither event was held in 2019 due to pandemic concerns, and that only magnified some fond memories in the IWO field.

Tristyn Nowlin, the recent University of Illinois star, takes a one-stroke lead over Ueakarn Songprasert, of Bloomindale, into the final 18 holes at Mistwood. Playing well at MIstwood is nothing new for Nowlin.  In 2018 she finished second in both the IWO and Women’s Western Amateur there.

“I love this place,’’ she said.  “Technically it’s been three years since I’ve been here, but it seems like two weeks.’’

Nowlin was low amateur in her runner-up finish in 2018.  She recently turned professional and recently won the Michigan Women’s Open.

“I’m just playing state opens for now,’’ she said.  “I’ll have a lot of good trips since making the transition, and whatever money I make I’ll use for (LPGA) Q-School.’’

After Wednesday’s final round she’ll compete in state opens in Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida before qualifying school begins in the fall.

While Nowlin has her own good memories of Mistwood, the field’s veterans stars Nicole Jeray and Jenna Pearson have theirs, two.  Both won the tournament twice, Jeray in 1998 and 2003 and Pearson in 2007 and 2011.  Only amateur Kerry Postillion, with three wins in the IWO’s first six stagings, won more times.

Jeray and Pearson both looked back on the two individuals who did the most to get the tournament to where it is today but are no longer here. Kosin, who founded the event in 1995, was just named to the next induction class into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. He was a cancer victim in 2009.

Mistwood owner Jim McWethy, who provided strong support once the event moved to Mistwood in 1999, passed away within the last year after dealing with a lung ailment.

“I knew Phil for a long time.  He was such an advocate for women’s golf,’’ said Pearson, who lost an epic 10-hole playoff in a bid for a third IWO title.  “Phil was gung-ho to have us here, and both Phil and Jim were unbelievable guys.’’

Jeray is eighth and Pearson tied for 16th going into the final round.

“This tournament is all because of Phil Kosin,’’ said Jeray, who had a long career on the LPGA Tour and is now a full-time teacher at Mistwood.  “He was very upset that there was no Illinois Women’s Open.  I had played in the men’s Illinois Open. Who know if this tournament would have ever happened without Phil Kosin.  He was ahead of his time.’’

McWethy was in ill health when Jeray started working at Mistwood.

“I was just starting to get to know him,’’ she said.  “This club is all because of his heart and his passion.  I’m really sorry I didn’t get to know him better.’’




One good showing could pay big dividends for Patrick Flavin

The PGA Tour’s developmental circuit has gone by various names – Ben Hogan, Nationwide, Nike, — over its 32-year history, but the just-concluded Evans Scholars Invitational on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour was an event like no other.

Chicago has hosted various events over the years, but local players never made the impact that they did last week at The Glen Club, in Glenview.

Patrick Flavin and Nick Hardy tied for fifth.  David Lipsky and Vince India tied for 12th.  Luke Guthrie tied for 18th after enduring a string of 23 missed cuts.  Brad Hopfinger, Brian Campbell and Andy Pope also made the cut and went away with paychecks.

Flavin, from Highwood, was the happiest because the strong showing meant he could keep playing on the circuit, at least for one more week.  He’s not a Korn Ferry member and hopes the points he made will enable him to play beyond the REX Hospital Championship, which tees off on Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. He earned a spot in Raleigh because he was in the top 25 at The Glen.

“It felt incredible to get a sponsor’s exemption and then capitalize,’’ said Flavin. “It definitely got my juices flowing.  I was bogey-free on the weekend, and I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I’m hoping to make enough points to play the rest of the year.’’

Flavin has gotten into only six Korn Ferry events and, prior to the ESI, had made the cut in only one. The Glen, though, had been good to him in the past.  He won the 2017 Illinois Open there to complete a sweep of that year’s Open and Illinois  State Amateur titles.  Only David Ogrin, 37 years earlier, won those two titles in the same year.

Hardy, from Northbrook, wasn’t as ecstatic as Flavin.  He hovered near the top of the leaderboard for three rounds and played in the last group with eventual champion Cameron Young on Sunday. In the end two double bogeys on the par-3 ninth hole led to Hardy’s undoing, but he still notched his third top-five finish and fourth top-10 in his last six starts.

“I learned a lot about handling my emotions,’’ said Hardy.  “I’m getting closer to winning out here.  I know it’s going to come.’’

Hardy maintained his No. 14 spot in the Korn Ferry standings. The top 25 get PGA Tour cards at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season in August.  With nine tournaments remaining that comfortable spot in the standings has led to Hardy skipping the Raleigh stop and return to action on June 7 in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Springfield, Ohio.

ILLINI FEAGLES IS FOURTH: Illinois’ Michael Feagles, a fifth-year senior, finished fourth in the individual portion of the NCAA men’s Division I tournament played in his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz.  Clemson’s Turk Pettit was the individual champion but that paled in comparison to what’s on the line Wednesday.

The top eight teams following the wrapup of the individual competition on Monday advanced to the match play portion.  Illinois was fifth, trailing Arizona, Oklahoma State. Pepperdine and Oklahoma. The quarterfinal and semifinal matches were played on Tuesday with the national champion to be determined on Wednesday (TODAY).

HERE AND THERE: Doug Ghim tied for 14th and Kevin Streelman tied for 20th in the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on Sunday. Both are in the field for this week’s Memorial tournament in Ohio and Streelman has learned that he can bypass next week’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying because his status on the Official World Golf Rankings (No. 57) gives him an automatic berth among the 156 starters in the Open finals at Torrey Pines, in California, later this month….Brian Tulk has departed Royal Fox, in St. Charles, and is now general manager at Klein Creek, in Winfield….Foxford Hills, in Cary, will hold a two-person scramble event on Saturday.

Defending champ Cooke has a dilemma going into the Illinois Open

David Cooke won the Illinois Open as an amateur in 2015 and last year as a professional. He may well have problems just making his first-round tee time to open his title defense when the 71st playing of the tourney tees off on Monday at White Eagle Club in Naperville.

Cooke’s win last year was special.  After holding off Northbrook’s Nick Hardy – now a member of the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour, for the title at The Glen Club in Glenview – Cooke was off to his wedding in North Carolina and then what he hoped would be the start of a career as a touring pro in Europe.

The wedding went off fine, the European venture not so much.  Cooke, who grew up in Bolingbrook and  starred in college at North Carolina State, missed the cut in the German Open (won by Paul Casey), the KLM Open (won by Sergio Garcia) and the Spanish Open (won by Jon Rahm).  Then he didn’t play well in the European Tour qualifying school.

“I loved Europe but played terrible, so I didn’t pursue it,’’ said Cooke, who returned to Chicago and  planned to enter qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour.  It was canceled because of pandemic concerns, but Cooke proved he can still play.  He finished second in an event on the Tour Red mini-tour at Flossmoor Country Club and shot a course record 64 in an informal round with Andy Krajewski, his long-time swing instructor, at Naperville Country Club.

A married man needs a job, though, and Cooke didn’t have a tour to play on so he did the next best thing.  He became a caddie.

He started on the Korn Ferry Tour and Daved Kocher, one of his first players, won a tournament in Mexico on March 1 – the circuit’s last event before all the golf tours were shut down for three months because of the coronavirus issue.  That immediate success led to Cooke getting work with Chesson Hadley on the PGA Tour.

Cooke carried for Hadley in the 3M Open last week in Minnesota and is on his bag again this week in the Barracuda Championship in California.

“I love caddying, and I’m getting exposure to the PGA Tour,’’ said Cooke.  “If I can get a full-time job I’m going to do it. I’ve got to stick with a full-time thing.’’

Cooke left his clubs in Chicago, and — if Hadley survives the 36-hole cut on Friday  — he’ll have a tough time getting back for the Illinois Open since the Barracuda Championship concludes on Sunday. Cooke will try, though.

“I love the Illinois Open, but there aren’t enough tournaments like that,’’ said Cooke. Winning the Illinois Open – even winning it twice – doesn’t get Cooke into any other professional events and this week’s Illinois Open isn’t like the won he won last year. Because of pandemic concerns the field for the finals was cut from 264 to 156 and White Eagle is the new host site instead of The Glen.


STATE OF MIND: The Wisconsin State Golf Association allowed out-of-state residents to compete in its State Amateur this week, and Illinois players took full advantage since the Chicago District Golf Association had previously canceled its own state championship over pandemic concerns.

About 20 Illinois players were among the 156 to tee off Monday at Milwaukee Country Club.  They were allowed in the Wisconsin event if they were members of clubs in the Badger state and promised they wouldn’t play in a corresponding championship in another state.

Wisconsin, though, lost some players, too.  Three of that state’s best amateurs opted for the Western Amateur, being contested at Crooked Stick in Indiana.  That trio includes three top college players – Hunter Eichorn (Marquette), Piercen Hunt (Illinois) and Harrison Ott (Vanderbilt).  Eichorn was the Wisconsin Amateur champion last year and Ott won the title in 2018 .

The Wisconsin Amateur ends on Thursday and the Western Am, with only two players from Illinois among its starters, runs through Saturday.  The Western is a national championship put on by the Chicago area-based Western Golf Association.

CDGA OPENER: The 107th tournament season of the Chicago District Golf Association finally got started on Monday with the CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe.  The tourney concludes on Wednesday (today).  The bulk of the CDGA season — including the State Amateur and CDGA Amateur — was wiped out by pandemic concerns.

Here’s the reasoning on the canceling of the JDC

At first it was a feeling of shock, then disappointment. How could the 2020 John Deere Classic be canceled?

Here was a tournament that struggled at times to just stay on the PGA Tour, a difficult task for any event in a small market. And, this year’s July 6-12 staging at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis was to mark the JDC’s 50th anniversary. Lots of special events were planned. It would have been fun.

Plus, the JDC was being billed as the first tournament on the PGA Tour to allow spectators since concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season on March 12. That would have made this JDC special, too.

All that was not to be. Clair Peterson, one of the most respected tournament directors in all of golf, announced the JDC’s cancelation on May 28.

“It certainly wasn’t what anyone wanted,’’ said Peterson, “but it was the right decision, for sure.’’

Once Peterson elaborated on the decision I could see his point. There really was no other option, though various possibilities were considered by the tournament staff, sponsor John Deere and the PGA Tour for a month before the announcement was made.

As to the JDC being the first tournament to welcome spectators, Peterson said that was misleading.

“The first announcement (from the PGA Tour) said the first four tournaments (the Charles Schwab Challenge, RBC Heritage Classic, Travelers Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic) wouldn’t have fans but it didn’t say that the John Deere would,’’ said Peterson.

The fans – that’s where the problems started.

“Having fans vigilant about observing social distancing are mutually exclusive, if you think about it,’’ said Peterson. “It’s almost impossible to provide a safe environment in an event with fans.’’

Fans are quickly packed together once they arrive at the course. They ride shuttles together, they go through security together, they stand together while watching play. There really is no way to keep them apart at a tournament like the JDC, which has been blessed with a large, supportive fan base. So, fans – it was decided – wouldn’t work at the JDC. It would relegate the tournament to just a TV show, and that’s not what the JDC is all about

“Once you’re without fans you lose all three of your pro-ams, and that’s a million dollars,’’ said Peterson. “Guests are not interested in coming and revenue is dramatically affected.’’

Even without fans the players, tournament staff and volunteers have to be protected. The John Deere clubhouse isn’t big by PGA standards. Players needed a six-foot space around them to accommodate safety requirements. That wasn’t possible.

Governmental restrictions required that all parking be done on site. Shuttles for caddies and media were ruled out. The JDC staff couldn’t solve that problem, either.

“It was a tough task that has nothing to do with anything but safety, and John Deere is very serious about that,’’ said Peterson, noting that Deere has been manufacturing face shields as part of its effort to combat the virus.

Other tournament sponsors have also been helping, of course, and Peterson expects many will have answers to the problems that the JDC didn’t have in putting on their tournaments.

“Every event is different,’’ said Peterson. “Different states have different regulations. Some title sponsors have different philosophies. Some events have larger clubhouses and parking lots. Maybe they can pull it off, and we’re rooting for them. People are getting a little understanding of what these events are facing to safely bring golf back. We just couldn’t check all the boxes.’’

The PGA Tour said another tournament would soon be announced to fill the dates left vacant by the JDC’s cancelation.

One thing the JDC didn’t lose in canceling its tournament was its Birdies for Charities program. It remains in operation. Last year 543 area and regional charities shared a record $13.8 million raised from the tournament. This year the participating charities, even without a tournament being held, will receive a 5 percent bonus from John Deere for their money raised.

Many of the tour players contacted Peterson after the cancelation announcement and were sympathetic with the plight of the tournament. The 50th anniversary will be celebrated in 2021 instead of 2020 and Quad Cities author Craig DeVrieze will delay publication of his much-anticipated book on the tournament’s colorful history. Dylan Frittelli will return as the defending champion, two years after his victory instead of one.

Traditional July dates – the week before the British Open, which was also cancelled this year – are expected to continue in 2021.

“Our expectation is that things will be back to normal,’’ said Peterson.

One can only hope for that.


India misfires in his shot at first win on the Korn Ferry Tour

Vince India’s breakthrough win on a professional tour will have to wait. The former University of Iowa golfer from Deerfield, took a four-stroke lead into the final round of the King & Bear Classic on the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour on Saturday and couldn’t protect it.

India soared to 4-over-par 76 in the final round, thereby handing the title to Chris Kirk who started the day in second place. Kirk, who has five wins on the PGA Tour, took his third on the Korn Ferry circuit thanks to a final round 67.

The story of the day, though, was more India’s collapse than Kirk’s victory. India, 31, was red hot for the first three rounds on the King & Bear Course at World Golf Village. He opened with rounds of 63, 66 and a course record-tying 62 before his collapse on Saturday.

India wound up in an eight-way tie tie for sixth place with, among others, Northbrook’s Nick Hardy. Hardy started the day nine strokes off the lead and wound up matching India’s 21-under-par showing for the 72 holes. Kirk’s 26-under set the pace and was worth $108,000.

“It was definitely a day that didn’t play out as I envisioned’’ said Kirk. “With Vince playing so well I thought I’d need to be 30-under to have a chance.’’

“I just tried to stick to my plan,’’ said India. “I wanted to get to 30-under.’’

Low scores were commonplace on the King & Bear – the only course jointly designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer on grounds that include the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, FL.

India – one of just 10 players with victories in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open – is capable of putting up low numbers. He was leading the Portland Open, last event of the Korn Ferry’s 2019 season, when he made double bogey on the final hole. That left him outside of the circuit’s postseason playoffs and send him back to the tour’s qualifying tournament. He was undaunted, though.

“It was certainly inspiring,’’ said India. “Things just didn’t go my way on the last hole.’’

India made five eagles in the subsequent qualifying tournament at Orange County National in Florida and finished in a tie for 30th. That earned him a place in the first eight events of the 2020 season. The first six were played before the pandemic halted tournament play in March. At that point India had made just three cuts and was in danger of losing regular playing privileges.

When play resumed two weeks ago, however, he came out with solid play in two new events in Florida. He finished in a tie for 10th in the first in Ponte Vedra prior to his tie for sixth in St. Augustine. Those two weeks boosted him from 134th on the Korn Ferry standings to 38th and it’ll keep him on the tee sheet for the next segment of Korn Ferry events. The circuit resumes on Thursday with the Utah Championship.

Due to the pandemic, the top 25 on the Korn Ferry circuit who gain admittance to the PGA Tour won’t be determined until the fall of 2021. That leaves India with plenty of time to move up to the premier circuit.

“There’s such a fine line between this tour and the PGA Tour,’’ he said. “Not a lot of people really know that. There are a lot of guys who can gel with the PGA Tour fellas and win majors right away. The talent out here is supreme.’’

The Korn Ferry Tour has two Illinois stops – the Lincoln Land Championship at Panther Creek in Springfield Sept. 3-6 and the Evans Scholars Invitational at Chicago Highlands in Westchester Sept. 10-13. Both are $600,000 events that had been scheduled earlier in the season and then were postponed due to pandemic concerns.

CDGA cancels its two oldest tournamentsf due to pandemic concerns

The Illinois golf calendar took a big hit on Friday when the Chicago District Golf Association announced the cancelation of its two biggest and oldest championships.

The CDGA Amateur, which was to be played for the 101st time June 22-25 at Bull Valley in Woodstock, and the Illinois State Amateur, slated for its 90th playing at The Club at Wynstone in Barrington July 21-23, were dropped due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday’s announcement followed last week’s decision by Mistwood Golf Club, in Romeoville, to call off the Illinois Women’s Open. The Western Golf Association also had also cancelled its Western Junior and Women’s Western Junior Championships. The IWO was scheduled for July 13-15 and the two Western events were to tee off on June 15.

State government officials allowed Illinois’ courses to re-open on May 1 with a series of restrictions in place. While allowing for limited recreational play, those restrictions hinder the conducting of major tournaments.

“We continue to rely on the guidance of international, national and local health organizations and administrators, as well as the Golf Operational Restrictions set by the State of Illinois, when it comes to making decisions on our events,’’ said Robert Markionni, the CDGA executive director. “Based on current information from these entities we do not think it is feasible to begin safely conducting qualifiers for these events in late May and early June at the standard we are accustomed to, thus unfortunately necessitating the cancelation of these prestigious events.’’

This is the first cancelation in the history of the Illinois State Amateur, which was created in 1931. The CDGA Amateur last endured a cancelation n 1945, during World War II.

Both the Western Golf Association and Mistwood also cited travel restrictions for the decisions to cancel their tournaments.

The CDGA, which has now has cancelled four of its tournaments, also conducts qualifiers for many national events staged by the U.S. Golf Association. The CDGA is targeting July as the month it can begin to conduct qualifiers and the corresponding championships. Its tournament season runs through Oct. 8.

Next event on the CDGA schedule is the June 10 Radix Cup matches, an annual duel between the CDGA’s best amateurs and the leading professionals from the Illinois PGA at Oak Park Country Club. That event is currently listed as postponed.

The IPGA, still hoping to reschedule most of its tournaments, has listed the bulk of its events as “postponed.’’

JDC’s 50th anniversary staging maintains its spot on revised PGA Tour schedule

While the PGA Tour schedule remained in a state of flux on Thursday, there were some noteworthy developments. Two involved Illinois tournaments.

The Evans Scholars Invitational, scheduled as the next event on the PGA’s alternate Korn Ferry Tour, won’t make its scheduled May 20-24 playing at The Glen Club, in Glenview. It’s not being cancelled, though.

And the John Deere Classic, the annual PGA Tour stop in the Quad Cities, will not only remain on its July 6-12 dates at TPC Deere Run, in downstate Silvis. It is also being targeted as the first PGA stop to allow spectators since the coronavirus pandemic forced a series of postponements and cancellations on both circuits.

It’s a big year for the JDC. The tourney will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and its volunteer staff was alerted on Thursday that it should be prepared to welcome spectators. According to the PGA Tour’s revamped schedule, released on Thursday, the first four tournaments will be closed to the general public. That policy could change, though, based on recommendations of local and state authorities in each market.

The latest schedule has the PGA Tour resuming play at the Charles Schwab Challenge, at Colonial in Ft. Worth, TX., the week of June 8-14. That event was to be played from May 18-24 – the same dates as the Korn Ferry event at The Glen Club – but was pushed back as other dates opened up.

The RBC Heritage, at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina, is getting a second chance at playing. The tournament was to be played the week after the Masters in April. Now it’s scheduled for June 15-21 – the dates originally planned for the U.S. Open.

Also preceding the JDC are the Travelers Championship, in Connecticut, June 22-28 and the Rocket Mortgage Classic, in Detroit, July 2-5.

The John Deere Classic is traditionally held the week before the British Open, but the British has already been cancelled. Taking over the British dates is Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial tournament in Ohio July 13-19. It had originally been scheduled in May.

There will be only three major championships this year instead of the usual four. The PGA Championship, at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, is Aug. 3-9 and PGA officials say it will go on without spectators if conditions demand it. The PGA of America, adamant about using those dates, said the tourney could also be moved if conditions require it.

The U.S. Open, at New York’s Winged Foot course, is on Sept. 14-20, a week before the Ryder Cup matches between the U.S. and Europe at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. The Masters tournament has been rescheduled for Nov. 9-15 in Georgia.

With 22 events having been played through the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, the adjusted season-long schedule – again subject to change – will consist of 36 events including three Fed Ex Cup Playoff events. The second of those is the BMW Championship. It was previously moved back a week, to Aug. 24-30, and will remain at Olympia Fields in Chicago’s south suburbs.

Thursday’s announcements also revealed that the Canadian Open and Barbasol Championship on the PGA Tour have been cancelled and the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic has been moved to Sept. 21-27. It’ll be played opposite the Ryder Cup matches.

In addition, A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier won’t be on the PGA Tour’s fall schedule. It’s ending its 10-year run by mutual agreement with the tour. It was under contract through 2026 at the West Virginia resort owned by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.

As for the Evans Scholars Invitational, which made its debut on the Korn Ferry circuit last year, the Western Golf Association is working with the PGA Tour on finding dates later in the year. Three other Korn Ferry tournaments were cancelled on Thursday.

“We conduct the Evans Scholars Invitational to raise funds and greater awareness for the Evans Scholars Foundation’s scholarship programs for caddies, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to hold the invitational at a later date,’’ said Vince Pellegrino, the WGA’s senior vice president for tournaments. “We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to conduct the Evans Scholars Invitational in May. However, our first priority remains the health and safety of the players, fans, sponsors, volunteers and everyone in the local community.’’

The Korn Ferry features 28 tournaments played in 20 states and four countries outside the U.S.. That league’s season culminates with the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in August. Its top players have a direct path to the PGA Tour for the 2020-21 season. The Korn Ferry is scheduled to return to competition with a new tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, the week of June 8-14 without fans in attendance.