Tradition and Anticipation: Chicago’s Korn-Ferry Event

The first season of the Ben Hogan Tour, the developmental stepping stone to the PGA Tour, kicked off in 1990. With roots in Texas, Ben Hogan himself, the Ben Hogan Golf Company, and hence the Ben Hogan Tour initially focused on the Lone Star state and the states in proximity to Texas without ever hosting an event in Chicago.

In fact, for the three year existence of the Ben Hogan Tour (1990-1992) the Ben Hogan Fort Wayne Open was the closest developmental event to our Windy City. The next title sponsor of this tour, Nike (1993-1999), lengthened its schedule and expanded the number of states visited, but nonetheless still skipped the Chicago area with its tournaments. Not until the final year of the third title sponsor did the developmental tour, the Buy.com Tour, select Chicago as a tournament site; Kemper Lakes hosted the 2002 LaSalle Bank Open.

KORN-FERRY-LOGOS

Korn Ferry Tour through the years

Taking over as the fourth title sponsor for the developing professionals, the Nationwide Tour continued with a Chicago event for the next six years. From 2003 through 2008 The Glen Club hosted the LaSalle Bank Open (2003-2007) with a name change becoming the Bank of America Open in 2008.

Then, for the following set of six years, developmental tournament schedule changes took the up-and-coming pro golf tour away from Chicago for tournament sites in other states and foreign countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Panama, Columbia, Brazil, and Chile.

Supported by its fifth named title sponsor, the developmental tour known as the Web.com Tour brought an event back to Chicago with a June date in 2016; Ivanhoe Club hosted the Rust-Oleum Championship, which ran for three years at that site with the finale in 2018.

In 2019 Chicago continued as a host locale on the developmental tour tournament schedule with the tour gaining its sixth title sponsor– the Korn-Ferry Tour. The Chicago-area tournament held onto its date position in the tour schedule and was now contested as the Evans Scholars Invitational.

Developmental tour events held in the Chicago area through the years

Developmental tour events held in the Chicago area through the years

The ESI was first played in May 2019 at The Glen Club in Glenview. As part of COVID-19-related schedule changes for the following Korn- Ferry Tour season, the tournament was postponed until September 2020, and the location was changed to Chicago Highlands Club. In 2021 the tournament returned to May dates and to The Glen Club site.

Now with great anticipation the developmental tournament for the benefit of the Evans Scholars Foundation has secured a new title sponsor. The Western Golf Association and Korn-Ferry Tour have announced a five-year partnership with NV5 Global, Inc. to serve as the title sponsor for the Evans Scholars Invitational. The tournament, which will formally be renamed the NV5 Invitational presented by First Midwest Bank, will return to The Glen Club in Glenview, Illinois, on May 23-29, 2022.

NV5-INVITATIONAL-LOGO“We are excited to welcome NV5 to the Korn-Ferry Tour family as the title sponsor of the newly-named NV5 Invitational presented by First Midwest Bank,” said Korn-Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin. “With NV5’s commitment and the accompanying five-year extension, this tournament will remain a staple on our Tour and in the Greater Chicago community for years to come.”

Cameron Young

Cameron Young

Cameron Young (2021), Curtis Thompson (2020), and Scottie Scheffler (2019) are the three most recent champions of the developmental tour’s Chicago event; they join this list of past champions crowned in Chicago, all of whom have made their mark at the highest levels of professional golf.

2018 Chase Wright
2017 Stephan Jager
2016 Max Homa
2008 Kris Blanks
2007 John Riegger
2006 Jason Duffner
2005 Chris Couch
2004 Brendan Jones
2003 Andre Stolz
2002 Marco Dawson

And while it is still fresh in our minds, the unblemished record of Scottie Schleffler in his first Ryder Cup appearance, and the resounding chest bump with partner Bryson DeChambeau, after Schleffler birdied the 15th hole at Whistling Straits on Ryder Cup Saturday reflect the talent and intensity brought to the world of golf by past Chicago Korn-Ferry champions.

As vaccination numbers and immunity against COVID-19 increase, and conditions and protocols at golf events return to normal, eager fans can flock to the NV5 Invitational at The Glen Club next year on May 23-29, 2022, cheering for their favorites in an international field of golf’s rising stars competing for a spot on the PGA TOUR.

Further information and updates about the event can be found by visiting NV5 Invitational website.

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Greg Miles

Greg Miles has been a writer following golf in Chicago since 1990. For the past 28 years he has been a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and currently is classified as a GWAA "Life Member". He played his first round of golf on his 11th birthday, and since then has played more than 7,000 rounds of golf in his lifetime at 514 different courses. He has interviewed more than 275 golfers across all the professional tours along with famous celebrity golfers. Additionally, he is a member of several other competitive and honorary golf associations, as well as the Golf Nut Society.

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