Hardy falls to Hall in playoff at NV5 Invitational
For one of the first times in his life Nick Hardy showed up at a professional golf event expecting to win.
Not hoping or praying.
He attacked from the first hole to the 72nd during the Korn Ferry Tour's NV5 Invitational at the Glen View Club and finished tied for the lead at 22-under par after tapping in for birdie on No. 18 on Sunday.
Unfortunately, Hardy -- who fired a 6-under 65 in windy conditions -- lost on the third playoff hole when England's Harry Hall rolled in a 8-foot birdie putt. Hall, who birdied 5 of the last 7 holes, also shot 65.
"I played really good and it wasn't enough, which is tough to take in right now because I felt played well enough to win," Hardy said. "Hats off to Harry. He's a great player. He's gonna be on the PGA Tour. A special player."
It was oh so close to an incredibly special day for Hardy, who has yet to record a victory on the Korn Ferry or PGA Tour. Hardy, a 2014 graduate of Glenbrook North and a star player at Illinois, had a gallery of well over 100 people following him the entire day.
They watched him save par on No. 6 by getting up and down from a greenside bunker, bury a 15-footer on No. 7 after misjudging a long lag putt, sink a 35-footer on No. 8 for birdie, and drain an 8-footer on No. 9 for another birdie.
When Hardy stuck a wedge to 3 feet on No. 10 it looked like he'd get to 20 under and pull away from the field. But he "dead pulled it" and settled for par.
"That was the only short putt I missed all week," said Hardy, who made $67,500 for finishing second. "There was nothing weird about it. It was just a bad putt."
Hardy went on to birdie 12, 15 and 18 -- and also saved par on No. 16 after a wayward drive left him in long, nasty fescue.
In the playoff, Hardy and Hall birdied the 589-yard par 5 18th hole twice then drove to the 155-yard 17th hole. With the wind howling behind them Hall stuck a wedge to 8 feet to a tight, upfront pin. Hardy's shot landed on the fringe and spun backward a couple of feet. Hardy raised his hand as the 35 footer approached the hole, but the ball veered off course.
Moments later Hall hit his putt and claimed the $135,000 top prize.
"I played my (butt) off today," Hardy said. "I thought 6-under would have easily won with the wind and the way things were going. I woke up and thought it would be 20 (under to win).
"I putted really well this whole week. I really didn't feel like I had my best stuff with my irons, but I really putted well and that kept me upright."
Hardy, who earned his PGA Tour card last fall, entered this event as a "rehab start" of sorts as he recovers from a wrist injury he suffered in late April. He hopes the new attitude he took spearheads the rest of his season.
"It was one of the first weeks of my life where I took the attitude of 'win or bust,' " said Hardy, who will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open on June 6. "That's really the mindset I took this week and it was strong. I came out with focus from the first hole to the 72nd hole. I had an incredibly positive attitude coming off the injury and the layoff.
"It's powerful because it taught me a lot of lessons. It taught me, 'Look, I don't need to grind my (butt) off every day.' I can just think the right thoughts, which is keep them to a minimum and come out with a strong focus.
"That's what I learned this week."
• Deerfield's Vince India and Highwood's Patrick Flavin both finished in a tie for 32nd, while Lake Forest's Brad Hopfinger finished T-59.