Highwood's Flavin, Deerfield's India end golf season on upswing
Patrick Flavin's attempt at earning his PGA Tour card through a year's worth of Monday qualifiers made for a captivating story throughout the 2022 season.
The Highwood resident, who won the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open in 2017, came up a bit short in the final day of his long season of traveling in September, but the year ended with a nice consolation prize last week when Flavin finished in the Top 40 of the Korn Ferry Tour's Qualifying Tournament for the 2022 season in Savannah, Georgia.
Both Flavin and Deerfield's Vince India tied for 24th in the last of the four-tournament series. That meant both are assured eight early season starts when the PGA's alternative circuit begins play in January.
India has played on the Korn Ferry Tour since 2015. That's been his main tour home since he was the Big Ten Player of the Year for Iowa in 2011. Lake Forest's Brad Hopfinger, India's teammate at Iowa, will also be back for another Korn Ferry season, but he isn't assured the starts that Flavin and India earned.
Neither are Illinois alums Michael Feagles and Brian Campbell, but they also secured another year of Korn Ferry membership.
HARDY START: Northbrook's Nick Hardy, who had to go to the Korn Ferry Finals to retain his PGA Tour membership, responded with the pressure on in that three-tourney series in August and September and he hasn't cooled off since.
Hardy made the cut in the first five PGA Tour events after retaining his card, finishing a career-best tie for fifth in the Sanderson Championship. The PGA Tour season has two events remaining, and Hardy isn't in the field for this week's Houston Open.
TAMPA-BASED: Elizabeth Szokol, the only Chicago-connected player on the LPGA Tour, has taken up residence in Florida. Her place in Tampa is a 40-minute drive from the Pelican course, site of this week's last event on the circuit's regular season.
Szokol, in her third LPGA season, grew up in Winnetka and played two seasons at Northwestern. Her swing coach, Justin Sheehan, is the head professional at Pelican but Szokol calls nearby Avila her home club.
"I'm from Chicago so needed a warmer place," said Szokol.
She had a great second season on the circuit in 2021, making it into her tour's top 60 to qualify for the season-ending CME Group Championship, in Naples. Its $2 million first prize is the largest winner's check in the history of women's golf.
Szokol played in only 12 events this year, though, and stands No. 105 in the CME standings going into next week's season climax.
Big things are coming down the road for The Pelican. "The Match" -- this time featuring Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy vs. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth -- is a 12-hole under-the-light event coming in Dec. 10 and next year's LPGA event there will be rebranded as The Annika in honor new host Annika Sorenstam.
HERE AND THERE: Coach Mike Small's next recruiting class at Illinois includes Max Herendeen, of Bellevue, Washington, who won the Junior PGA Championship at Cog Hill in August, and Ethan Wilson, who helped Team Canada capture the Junior World Cup in Japan.
Chuck Kletcke will become the first Golf Pro Emeritus in the 112-year history of Edgewood Valley Country Club in Burr Ridge when he ends his 25 seasons as head professional at the end of the year.
The Downers Grove Park District's nine-hole course, site of the original Chicago Golf Club in 1893, will be rebranded next year as the Belmont Golf Club. That was its name after Chicago Golf moved to its present 18-hole location in Wheaton in the 1890s.
Prolific Aurora architect Greg Martin is making plans to renovate 27-hole Village Links of Glen Ellyn.
The Winnetka Park District's 18-holer won't reopen in 2023 to accommodate the village's stormwater management project.