It was unusual for the Chicago area to get six players into last week’s final stage of qualifying for the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour. It was even more unusual that three of them – Nick Hardy, Andy Pope and Vince India – finished in the top 40 of the 154-man field and earned immediate playing privileges when the tournaments begin next month in The Bahamas.
Formally called the Ben Hogan, Nationwide and Web.com tour, the circuit offers the most direct path to the PGA Tour. Northbrook’s Hardy, who didn’t qualifying for the circuit last year after a stellar career at the University of Illinois, tied for fifth in the 72-hole final qualifier, which concluded on Sunday at Orange County National in Winter Park, FL.
By being in the top 10 Hardy is assured spots in the first 12 tournaments of the Korn Ferry season. Glen Ellyn’s Andy Pope tied for 13th and Deerfield’s Vince India tied for 30th. That means both can play in the first eight events of the campaign. Also gaining the right to play immediately was Dawson Armstrong, who won the 2015 Western Amateur title at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. He tied for seventh at Orange County National.
The other three local competitors at Orange County National – Highwood’s Patrick Flavin, Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger and Spring Grove’s Jordan Hahn – will have to get in the tournaments through Monday qualifiers. Flavin, who tied for 76th at Orange County National, has other playing options. He finished sixth in the PGA Latinoamerica Tour and could compete there again.
Hopfinger, who has spent several seasons on the Korn Hardy circuit, tied for 90th and Hahn, a rookie pro out of the University of Wisconsin, tied for 121st. In qualifying for the third and final stage of Korn Ferry qualifying they will be able to compete in the Monday qualifiers without going into the pre-qualifying events.
India, Flavin and Hopfinger are among just 10 players who own titles in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open. Hardy was runner-up in that tournament last year.
Here and there
Sportsman’s Country Club, a fixture on the Chicago golf scene since 1931, won’t be available to golfers again until the summer of 2021. That’s the project re-opening date now that a massive $12.5 million renovation and restoration project is scheduled to begin at the Northbrook facility. Libertyville golf course architect Rick Jacobson, who previously did work on the property in 2005 and 2006, will oversee the rebuilding of the course. A new clubhouse will also be built at a different location on the property than the present one and the practice area will be greatly enhanced.
Troy Newport, the new general manager at Cog Hill, in Lemont, has announced the addition of Toptracer technology at the 72-hole complex that was a long-time home for the Western Open championship. With 21 heated hitting bays Toptracer allows for practice sessions, virtual golf and a variety of games during the offseason months. “It’s a great fit for our Grow the Game initiatives at Cog Hill,’’ said Newport. Cog Hill is keeping its Nos. 1 and 3 courses open throughout the winter and will host the Eskimo Open there on Jan. 5.
Northwestern University has unveiled its new version of the Gleacher Center, which has allowed for indoor practice for its men’s and women’s teams. The new version includes a 5,400 square-foot short game and putting area with raised ceilings, a video-equipped three-bay hitting area and a digitally adjustable putting platform.
Eagle Ridge Resort, in Galena, following its recent ownership change, has named Ryan Brown as its a new director of golf and announced plans to remodel the pro shop at The General course.