Many of the names of the pros are the same from year-to-year at the Rockford Pro Am, but there are also newcomers who are young with the potential to perhaps one day be stars on their tours. There were two notable ones Monday at the Rockford Country Club.
One was recent fighting Illini graduate Nick Hardy. He’s a native of Northbrook. He led the Illini to three top-four finishes in the NCAA Tournament. He also led the Illini to four Big Ten team championships and he won two individual Big Ten championships.
Hardy played in his first pro event June 21 at the Travelers Championship. He made the cut. He has made the cut in every event he has entered so far. He tied for 43rd Sunday at the John Deere Classic.
How high is he setting the bar for his career?
“I definitely have high aspirations and goals,” says Hardy. “I will definitely work as hard as I can to achieve those goals. It’s definitely a dream to be playing and competing with the best in the world.”
Hardy is confident in his game.
“I feel good about my game every aspect of it honestly,” he says. “In order to keep getting better I think I should improve my wedge play, but everything can improve.”
“I think his future is bright,” says pro golfer Scott Langley another former Fighting Illini standout. “Nick’s a great , young player, but he’s got a polished game already which is something to really appreciate.”
Another name to remember from this Pro Am is Emma Talley. She is a 24 year old rookie on the LPGA Tour. She already has four top-five finishes this season including a fifth place finish Sunday in Toledo.
“I’ve been having a great year,” says Talley. “I had a bunch of goals written down and I’ve succeeded in some of them and I’m having to chase some of them. I’m just trying not to have any expectations and keep rolling.
One of Talley’s goals is to win an LPGA Tournament. Another to is eventually make the Solheim Cup team and represent her country. LPGA veteran Brittany Lincicome expects Talley to reach those goals.
“The sky is the limit (for Talley),” says Lincicome. “She’s such a nice girl. It’s great to see nice people who play well. She’s going to do great!”
“I’m 24 years old and getting to travel the world and make money playing golf so it’s a pretty good gig,” says Talley.