August 8th 2018 - Vince India was airborne about two hours after his final putt dropped at The Glen Club to win the 69th Illinois Open.
Yes, he still needed a plane.
India, who calls Deerfield home, added a final-round 6-under-par 66 to rounds of 72 and 64 to finish what became an endurance test at 14-under-par 202 and beat Bloomington football equipment salesman Brendan Holtz by a stroke early Wednesday evening.
“It was a grind,” said India, who had to finish the second round in the morning and then regroup for his 2:10 p.m. tee time. “I had to really talk myself out of thinking too far ahead and pull the reins back in. I did a good job for not being in this position for a long time.”
India’s bogey-free round featured birdies on the first, second, eighth, 10th and 12th holes before he came ever-so-close on Nos. 13, 14 and 15. But a birdie 4 at the last after a cart path-aided drive of almost 400 yards ended up making the difference against Holtz, who was in the final group and also birdied the final hole after an enormous drive.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but I’m glad I pulled myself together and made some really committed swings down the final three holes,” India said. “I didn’t really put myself in a lot of trouble out there. My short game bailed me out when it had to.”
For India, the victory was not only lucrative – to the tune of $19,004 – but a mental boost for the Web.com tournament starting Thursday. He caught a late flight to San Francisco and expects to be on the tee in the Ellie Mae Classic at 9:06 a.m. Pacific Time.
“I’m going to have a lot of drinks on the plane, which is great, probably a couple Bloody Marys, most likely watch a movie and pass out,” said India, who, battling a wonky back, has made the cut in two of seven starts on the circuit this season, earning $2,964. “My health’s better and I’m able to swing the club a little bit better too. I think the golf swing’s finally coming back.”
Holtz, who tied for second to earn $13,063, and was low pro last year, erred with a bogey on the par-3 17th, hitting his tee shot fat and leaving himself 12 feet for par after a so-so chip. He hit the 18th green in two and had an 18-foot uphill left-breaking putt for eagle and a tie for the lead that broke a little more than he expected.
“That sucker turned real hard,” Holtz said. “I wasn’t going to leave it short, though.”
It was the 17th hole, a vexing par-3, that bit Holtz for the second year running.
“Bad bogey,” Holtz said. “I did the same thing last year, same situation. That hole, I have some redemption coming. I need to get back here and do it again.
“It’s a roller-coaster golf game I have. I struck the ball really well, but had a three-putt bogey (on No. 8) and No. 17, it’s just kind of kicking my butt.”
India’s birdie on No. 8 just before Holtz bogeyed earned India a share of the lead with amateur David Perkins of East Moline, a member of the Illinois State golf team who captured the CDGA Amateur earlier this summer. Perkins went out in 3-under 33, added birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 to get to 13-under, parred the 16th and stepped onto the 17th tee. Quickly he was pointing east and shouting “Fore left!”
“I hit a ‘you know what,’ ” Perkins said, avoiding the word shank. “First time in competition.”
The ball sailed into the nasty fescue-gorse between the 17th and first greens, and might be found years from now. Perkins had to settle for double-bogey and finished at with 3-under 69 for 11-under 205, tied for third with Brian Bullington of Frankfort, who also scored 69.
“Still a solid week,” Perkins said. “I thought early in the day I was in control, in the lead or close to it. Turned out I was in it all day until 17. But I needed one more birdie if not for the double.”
The second round ended late on Wednesday morning with David Cooke and Holtz on top at 9-under 135, Cooke finishing with a 6-under 66 and Holtz scoring 67. India’s 64 brought him into a a six-way tie for third at 8-under 136, along with amateurs Brendan O’Reilly and CDGA amateur champion David Perkins and pros Daniel Hudson, Andy Mickelson and Brian Bullington. The cut fell at 1-over 145, with 57 players advancing. Defending champion Patrick Flavin finished tied for 30th at 2-under 214 to cash his first check as a pro. The tournament’s second ace was registered by Jeff Kellen of Machesney Park with his first swing of the day. He drilled a 176-yard 7-iron into the cup on the 17th hole, a stroke that helped him to solo fifth at 10-under 206. Garrett Chaussard aced the ninth hole on Tuesday with a 226-yard 3-wood, but missed the cut.