Illini star, in Korn Ferry stop at the Glen Club, is ready for PGA

The Korn Ferry Tour, which visits the Chicago area for the fifth straight year this week, provides a path for young golf stars to get to the PGA Tour.

Chicago’s stop on the circuit, the NV5 Invitational, has one player – and one with Illinois connections to boot – who has, for all intents, earned his spot on golf’s premier circuit in an amazingly short period of time.

Adrien Dumont de Chassart, the mainstay of coach Mike Small’s recent teams at the University of Illinois, got his first Korn Ferry start at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina in June. He’s been nothing short of sensational ever since, and his great play coupled with a rule change suggests that Dumont de Chassart could  be on the PGA Tour before this year is out.

His collegiate career barely over, Dumont de Chassart won in his first professional start, beating Josh Teater in a playoff. The next week he was in a playoff again, at the Wichita Open.  He didn’t survive the three-man shootout there but came back with a tie for eighth at Illinois’ other Korn Ferry stop, the Memorial Health event in Springfield.

Then, after returning to his native Belgium for a week’s break, he gained another top 10 with a tie for sixth at The Ascendants in Colorado and a tie for seventh in last week’s Price Cutter Championship in Missouri.

So, after playing in just five Korn Ferry events, Dumont de Chassart is ranked No. 6  on the point list that determines the 156 in the four-tournament Korn Ferry Finals.

In previous years the top 25 during the Korn Ferry season earned PGA Tour cards as did the top 25 in the Finals.  This year the top 30 after the last putt drops in the finals on Oct. 8 earn PGA Tour membership so Dumont de Chassart is in great shape to take his skills to golf’s next level.

Not so for the other Illinois connections on the Korn Ferry, though five would at least be in the first of the four-tournament playoff events with their present status in the point race. All are entered in the NV5 Invitational.

The top 156 in the point standings get into the first playoff event – the Boise Open, which tees off on Aug. 24. Currently Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger is 47th, Highwood’s Patrick Flavin is 81st and Deerfield’s Vince India 128th. Illinois alums Brian Campbell (68th) and Michael Feagles (109th) are also in the hunt. Unlike previous years the field will be reduced each week in the playoffs.

The NV5 Invitational, which tees off on Thursday at The Glen Club in Glenview, has produced four winners now playing on the PGA Tour and two of them are doing more than just participating.  Scottie Scheffler, who won the first event at The Glen in 2019, has won a Masters title and is the current No. 1 ranked player in the world.  Cameron Young, the winner in 2021, was the PGA Tour’s rookie of the year in 2022.

The other winners were Curtis Thompson in 2022, when the tourney shifted to Chicago Highlands in Westchester for a year, and England’s Harry Hall, who beat Northbrook’s Nick Hardy in a playoff for last year’s title. Hardy bounced back to get a taste of victory on the PGA Tour this year, at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans’ two-man team event.

This week’s tournament has a $1 million purse with $180,000 going to the  champion on Sunday. Play begins at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and 7:30 on the weekend rounds.

HERE AND THERE: Illinois’ only LPGA Tour player, Elizabeth Szokol, teamed up with Cheyenne Knight to win last week’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational team event in Michigan.  Szokol, who grew up in Winnetka and played for two seasons at Northwestern, joined the LPGA circuit in 2019. Her first victory earned her $408,497 and boosted her career winnings over $1 million ($1,287,628).

Hinsdale’s Mac McClear successfully defended his title in last week’s 92nd Illinois State Amateur at Bloomington Country Club. Finishing the 72-hole competition with a 63, McClear won by five strokes in becoming the tourney’s 11th repeat champion.

Jasmine Koo, a 17-year old who has committed to Southern California, won the 123rd Women’s Western Amateur at White Eagle in Naperville, beating Sadie Englemann, a senior at Stanford, 4 and 2 in the finals.

Members of the 2023 Illinois Golf Hall of Fame will be announced on Wednesday (JULY 26).  The selection committee has whittled 26 nominees down to 10 finalists for the final voting on Tuesday night.

Two-time Illinois Women’s Amateur champion Sarah Arnold, of Geneva, heads the field in the 28th Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open, which runs Monday and Tuesday (JULY 24-25) at Mistwood, in Romeoville.  The amateur-dominated 74-player field is the biggest in recent years for the 36-hole competition.

Twin Orchard will again host the 52nd annual Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities outing on Aug. 9. The Long Grove club lost over 100 trees when a tornado touched down recently.