Lakewood Ranch resident Vince India blitzes U.S. Open local qualifier

jdill@bradenton.comMay 6, 2014 

EAST MANATEE -- Vince India was struggling with his chipping and his alignment.

So the Lakewood Ranch resident, who plays and practices at The Concession Golf Club, received a tip from Paul Azinger.

Azinger, a Bradenton resident who won the 1993 PGA Championship and is the last U.S. Ryder Cup team winning captain, imparted some useful wisdom upon the 25-year-old India.

"We worked on that for about a half hour, and I was seeing my lines in myself ... and I was seeing myself a lot better (Monday)," said India, who is from Deerfield, Ill., and has lived in the area for the past three winters. "I'm going to have to call him up and tell him, 'Thanks.'"

India utilized the knowledge to the tune of a 61 in Monday's U.S. Open local qualifier held at Waterlefe Golf & River Club, which was played as a par 71 for the round.

The former Big Ten player of the year with the University of Iowa set the course record as a par 71 layout to attain medalist honors.

Two-time PGA Tour winner Robert Gamez carded a 61 in a West Florida Golf Tour event as a par 72 in the past.

Only four players qualified for the sectional phase of qualifying. The lone Florida sectional is held at Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach on June 2. The qualifying players from the section

round, which is 36 holes in one day, advance to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, N.C., in mid-June.

"My plan is to do either the one is Columbus or there's another one in western Ohio that week," said India, who will be playing a Tour event in that area then.

India fired eight birdies and one eagle en route to his blistering round that began on the back nine.

"It seemed like everything kind of wanted to go in (Monday)," said India, who plays on the Tour. "It was one of those days."

Joining India from the Waterlefe local qualifier were Bradenton's Doug Ferris (67), Clearwater's Ryan Gildersleeve (68) and Orlando's Jonathan Sundstrom (68).

Sundstrom's 3-under par 68 was just his second time playing Waterlefe. The Orlando resident made the trek south, because he didn't sign up for qualifying until late and the Waterlefe site was the only one with any room left.

He also used a new putter for his round that aided the effort.

"I've been playing horrible lately," said Sundstrom, who is advancing to his first-ever sectional. "It's a Spiderblade Counter Balance putter. I played (Sunday) with it. And that was the first time I ever practiced with it."

Like India, Sundstrom has been fortunate in picking the brain of a former PGA Tour player.

"He's taught me a lot about the mental game and how to get around a golf course," said Sundstrom about learning from Skip Kendall.

Sundstrom was the last score entered, and knocked a slew of players from contention.

There were six players that posted 69s, and were waiting to see if there would be a playoff for one of the qualifying berths.

But instead, the group of Lakewood Ranch's Jon Bullas, Bradenton's Charles Wang, Bradenton's Sean Jacklin, Bradenton's Philip Knowles, Bolivia's Jose Montano and Boca Raton's John Nieporte had to settle for a playoff for two alternate spots.

Montano earned the first alternate berth, while Nieporte claimed the second one.

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