Stem-cell therapy gives golfer India a career boost

Deerfield’s Vince India has won the Illinois State Amateur and been runner-up in the Illinois Open. Now he’s poised to go on to bigger and better things thanks to his willingness to try stem-cell therapy to cure his ailing back.

“Stem-cell therapy is in more of a clinical stage now,’’ said India, who has playing privileges on the PGA’s Tour. “But it’s becoming more widespread since there’s been some tremendous results with initial patients.’’

India was one of those. He, along with two other players, underwent treatment together. Since then India has made the cut in three of his last five starts and had his best finish – a tie for 19th in Mexico. Last week he played in a U.S. Open local qualifier in Wisconsin and tied for third, which advanced him to sectional play.

All that’s encouraging but, more important, his back feels better.

“It’s way better than what it was, and I think that down the road my back will be better than it ever was,’’ said India, who will be in the field when the Tour visits Ivanhoe Club for the $600,000 Rust-Oleum Championship from June 8-11.

While admitting that an MRI in three months will give him a better feel for the effectiveness of his stem-cell treatment, India believes that another, much more celebrated a player, should have given it a try long ago.

“Tiger (Woods) should have had this done three-four years ago,’’ said India. Woods tried various surgical procedures instead, and he’s still unable to resume full-time tournament play.

India opted to start his U.S. Open bid at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, a Jack Nicklaus design in Sheboygan Falls, Wis., because it better fit his Tour schedule. That’s why he didn’t play in the last of three Illinois local qualifiers on Monday at Cantigny, in Wheaton.

Cantigny had one of the bigger locals, 90 players going for five sectional berths. Rockford’s Jeffrey Kellen was low man, shooting a 5-under-par 67 on Cantigny’s Woodside and Hillside nines. He was one better than Brian Bullington of Frankfort.
Also advancing to sectional play at Cantigny were Justin Choi of Northfield, Kyle Kochevar of Glen Ellyn and Garrett Chaussard, the pro at Skokie Country Club who was a semifinalist in Monday’s Illinois PGA Match Play Championship at Kemper Lakes..

Legends at Geneva National

The LPGA Legends Tour holds its first tournament close to the Chicago area this weekend when the 36-hole Red Nose Day Walgreens Charity Championship tees off on the Gary Player Course at Geneva National in Lake Geneva. Wis.

Tournament rounds will start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday with the 54-player field featuring Juli Inkster, Pat Bradley, Laura Davies and Betsy King. Allison Finney and Nicole Jeray, the only players on the 45 and over circuit with Chicago backgrounds, are also in the field.

The $300,000 event will be preceded by a noon shotgun pro-am on Thursday on both the Arnold Palmer and Player courses and a 10 a.m. qualifying tournament plus and clinics and exhibitions starting at 4 p.m. on Friday.

WGA, WWGA form new partnership

The Western Golf Association and Women’s Western Golf Association have jointly announced a change in their partnership effective on Aug. 1. A five-year agreement will go into effect on that date that calls for the WGA to help stage and promote the Women’s Western Amateur and Women’s Western Junior tournaments and also secure sites for those events.

The new agreement won’t affect with 117th Women’s Western Amateur, scheduled for June 12-17 at River Forest Country Club in Elmhurst, or the 91st Women’s Western Junior, slated for July 10-14 at Dubuque Golf & Country Club in Iowa.

NCAA finals are closing in

The men’s field for the NCAA finals at Rich Harvest in Sugar Grove will be finalized on Wednesday (TODAY) with the completion of six regional events across the country. Illinois is battling for a finals berth in West Lafayette, Ind., and Northwestern is seeking to advance at Baton Rouge, La.

Meanwhile the finalists in the women’s tournament will begin play at Rich Harvest at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. Four rounds of competition will conclude on Monday before the top eight teams determine the team champion in two days of match play. The men’s finals at Rich Harvest will run from May 26-31.