The Evans Scholars Invitational, the only pro tour event in the Chicago area this season, tees off on Thursday at The Glen Club, in Glenview. It’s an annual stop on the Korn Ferry Tour, which provides a direct path to golf’s premier circuit — the PGA Tour.
Scottie Scheffler won the inaugural ESI at The Glen in 2019 and is now a regular on the PGA Tour. Curtis Thompson was the champion last year when the tourney had to be shifted to Chicago Highlands, in Westchester. He’s back in the field this week, but Thompson is in a precarious position.
A former Louisiana State golfer, Thompson turned pro in 2014 and his lone Korn Ferry victory came at Chicago Highlands. Now he’s 27th on the circuit’s point list and only the top 25 at season’s end earn PGA Tour cards.
The current Top 25 includes Northbrook’s Nick Hardy, whose fourth-place finish on Sunday in the AdventHealth Championship in Missouri boosted his status to No. 14. David Lipsky, a former Northwestern golfer, is No. 6. A flock of other players with Illinois connections have work to do in the final 12 tournaments of the season to crack the coveted Top 25.
Deerfield’s Vince India, winner of an Illinois Open at The Glen, tied for sixth in Kansas City but that only improved his status to No. 56 on the Korn Ferry list. Northwestern alum Dylan Wu remained No. 28 after finishing in a tie for 21st. Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger, a titlist in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open, is No. 45.
This week’s field at The Glen also includes two others with wins in both the State Am and Illinois Open – Mark Hensby and Patrick Flavin. Also scheduled to go are former University of Illinois players Brian Campbell, Luke Guthrie and Scott Langley, ex-Illinois State Amateur winner Jordan Hahn and former Glenbard West golfer Andy Pope, who reached the finals in four U.S. Opens but remains a regular on the Korn Ferry circuit.
Also in the field are Stefan Jaeger and Chase Wright, who won the titles at Ivanhoe when the Korn Ferry stop was played there as the Rust-Oleum Championship, and Dawson Armstrong, who won the 2015 Western Amateur played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove.
The reigning Western Amateur champion, Pierceson Coody, received the traditional sponsor’s exemption to the ESI but he’s opted to play for Texas in the NCAA Championship instead. Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen of Denmark, the other finalist in the last Western Am, will be in this week’s ESI field.
Since last year’s staging First Midwest Bank has agreed to be the ESI’s presenting sponsor and SERVPRO, of Glenview, is providing complimentary tickets to the Thursday-Sunday tournament rounds.
PGA AFTERMATH: Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman made a strong showing in last week’s PGA Championship but bogeys at Nos. 13 and 17 in the final round cost him dearly. Streelman started the final round in fourth-place and climbed into a tie for second during the last 18.
The back nine letdowns, though, landed him in a nine-way tie for eighth place. He still had a $263,000 payday, but only the top four and ties received automatic invitations to next year’s Masters.
Brad Marek, the former Hersey High School standout and 2005 Illinois State Amateur champion, was second-low club professional in his first appearance in the PGA Championship. He earned $18,800 and had the satisfaction of beating three of the top four players in the world rankings going into the event. Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele all failed to survive the 36-hole cut.
HERE AND THERE: Winnetka’s Elizabeth Szokol, Chicago’s only player on the LPGA Tour, had her best finish of the season on Sunday – a tie for seventh in the Silk Championship in Virginia….Eighth-ranked Illinois is the only area qualifier for the men’s NCAA Championship, which tees off on Friday at Grayhawk, in Arizona….Mistwood has set the dates for the 26th Illinois Women’s Open. It’ll be played July 6-7 on the Romeoville course…..Arlington Heights’ Ryan Kowalski won the Chicago District Mid-Amateur title at Lake Shore, in Glencoe. It was Kowalski’s first appearance in a CDGA championship.