Former Hawkeye golfer goes pro

BY BEN SCHUFF | OCTOBER 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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Vince India is officially moving up in the world of golf.

India, a senior on Iowa's team last year, competed in his first professional tournament this past weekend at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.

He fired rounds of 3-under 69 and 2-over 74 before missing the cut by three strokes.

Despite his abbreviated weekend at Black Creek Club, the 22-year-old said the tournament was an invaluable experience to start his career.

"When you go out there in the nationwide tour, it's a really different ball game," India said. "The guys are a lot better than we play in college. The greens are faster and firmer. The pins are a lot more tucked. You kind of get an appreciation for how good those guys are.

"It's almost like they play a different game from yours. They hit more greens, [and] they hit it closer [to the pin], but they don't make the same mistakes at the same time. On top of that, they putt it better."

The former Hawkeye said he was simply pleased to qualify for the event.

Because of poor weather conditions in the Chicago area the week before the Children's Hospital Classic, India said his practice opportunities were very limited. He lowered his expectations because of this, and he described the week as "more of a learning experience than anything else."

"It was more about having fun out there," said the 2011 Les Bolstad award winner, an honor given annually to the Big Ten golfer with the lowest combined season stroke average. "Had I played well enough to make the cut, that's a bonus on top of everything."

India is in the midst of moving from Deerfield, Ill., to Sarasota, Fla., in an attempt to kick-start his pro career. He'll practice up to eight hours a day at a local golf course called the Concession.

"I'm just starting to treat it like a full-time job," he said.

He is also trying to earn his PGA Tour card. India is through the first stage of Q-School — the PGA qualifying school — a four-stage process in which golfers who finish in the top 25 earn their PGA Tour cards at the end of the last stage.

Iowa head coach Mark Hankins has said on numerous occasions that India is one of the best players to ever come through the Iowa program, and he's not surprised at the progress his former player is making thus far.

"He transformed when he was here," Hankins said. "He never had a pre-shot routine, he never practiced properly when he got here, he was just kind of random about his practice, and it caused random results. His on-course stuff is 100 percent better [now]."

Current senior Christ Brant had similar thoughts about India and noted that India's ability to "be in the zone" was something that left a lasting impression.

If he is to continue down the professional path, India said, his biggest area for improvement must be course management. He said while many players at the Children's Hospital Classic may have had better short games, he feels his ball striking is just as good — if not better — than the other players.

"They know how to navigate their way around a golf course better than almost anybody," India said. "I haven't really learned to do that well under pressure and under really stressful conditions when you're playing for a $90,000 check."

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