Deerfield’s Vince India played his college golf at Iowa and started his professional career this spring on the PGA Latino-American circuit, where his tournaments were in Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
India was right at home on Tuesday in the 64th Illinois Open, however. Opening with a 20-foot putt for eagle at The Glen Club, India was 9-under-par on his round through 17 holes before a double bogey finish left him with a 7-under 65.
Tied for 31st after a 72 in Round 1, India hit the 36-hole stop in the 54-hole competition at 7-under 137. Four players are tied for second, two shots back, including Brad Hopfinger – another Iowa alum. India won the Illinois State Amateur in 2010 and Hopfinger in 2011.
Lincolnshire amateur Jack Watson, a junior at Wisconsin; Canadian PGA Tour player Carlos Sainz Jr. of Elgin; and 2012 Chicago District Amateur titlist Michael Davan, a mini-tour player from Hoopeston, round out the group tied for second.
The Glen Club record of 10-under-par 62, set by D.A. Points when the Nationwide Tour made annual stops at the Glenview course, was in India’s sights when he reached the tee at the par-5 18th. Things unraveled then, however, as his tee shot would up a foot into fescue left of the fairway. He hacked out from there, but his approach to the green from 225 yards sailed left too and wound up in deep rough, forcing India to struggle in with a seven.
Still, the 65 – matching the low round of the tournament posted by first-round leader Joe Kinney – enabled India to make a big climb up the leaderboard. Only one of his birdie putts – a 15-footer at No. 9 – was longer than 10 feet.
“I didn’t think I could fight my way all the way back, but I’ll take it and I like my odds tomorrow,’’ said India. “The eagle got my mood in a nice place. It was like a kick in the butt to do something special.’’
India finished seventh when the Illinois Open returned to The Glen Club last year after a four-year absence. It’s his biggest summer event, coming while the PGA Latino-American Tour is on a break. The 15-event circuit resumes in October, and the top five players get spots on the web.com Tour in 2014. Thanks to three top-15 finishes in six starts, India ranked 35th after the spring session.
First-round leader Kinney slipped to a 76 in the second round, when winds gusted to 28 miles per hour and made scoring more difficult. He’s four off the lead entering the final 18. Illinois coach Mike Small, seeking a record-tying fifth title, shot 73 and is eight strokes back and defending champion Max Scodro is 10 off the pace after shooting 76.
Fifty players made the cut for the final round, 17 of them amateurs. They’ll begin play Wednesday off the No. 1 tee at 7 a.m.