If history serves as any indicator, Vince India likely didn’t arrive at this week’s WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz with champagne on ice.
Making his sixth tournament start, India comes off three missed cuts and a withdraw. His lone berth to the weekend at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Witch Hollow course resulted in a T25 in 2016.
In 21 Korn Ferry Tour starts this season before this week, India has missed nine cuts and earned no top-15 finishes.
But, following a 7-under 64 in Thursday’s first round, the 30-year-old Illinois native made six birdies and an unlikely eagle in the second round to post a 65 and claim a one-stroke lead at 13-under 129.
In his bid to earn a PGA TOUR card for next season, India is currently poised to move from No. 116 to 20th with a win.
“My low point over the past couple of years was probably when I tried to change swing instructors and tried to start from scratch instead of just figuring out what made me the golfer I was,” India said. “I went back to what I was good at. I honestly think most pros go through this, but I went back to really trying not to overthink things.”
At the par-5 11th hole, India put himself in position to where those counter-productive wheels in his head could have derailed him. But, staying true to the mental form he was after paid off.
“I hit a pretty average tee shot on No. 11, and it actually ended up on the back tee box on No. 10,” India said. “It actually wasn’t that far off from where I was aiming because it opens up the entire green. Then, I hit a 4-iron that skipped through the bunker and rolled to about 10 feet. I made it for eagle. That felt like a shot that probably shouldn’t have happened, but it did.”
Though his finishes haven’t been reflective of the good place in which he finds his game to be, India feels it trending in the right direction.
“I think my game comes together when I start playing a lot of golf, and over the last month I’ve played a lot of golf in a row,” he said. “You start to pick up on little tweaks and feel better about where the ball is going. Something has clicked recently to the point where I feel like I can make it from almost anywhere on the green. That frees me up and takes some pressure off of my iron play.”
Highlighted by five consecutive birdies on Nos. 4-8, Eugene, Oregon native Scott Harrington posted a bogey-free 8-under 63 to move to 12-under 130 and within one stroke of the lead.
“On 12, I made about the fastest putt you can find on this course,” Harrington said. “It was about 30 feet, downhill, and it just trickled in the edge. I’ll remember that one for a while. I told my caddie after that putt that it was the best putt I’ve hit all year. I could have hit it 10 feet past the hole or I could have left it five feet short. So, to make that was a huge bonus.”
Harrington, who entered the week at No. 38 in The 25 after last week’s T11 finish at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae, is currently projected to move to No. 17.
A stronger game has certainly been pivotal to better numbers on his scorecards of late, but to Harrington, the real game-changer is a healthier wife.
Harrington’s wife, Jenn, is in remission following a grueling battle against Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which included over a year of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
“We’ve really been through a lot and I don’t anything for granted anymore,” Harrington said. “We all have bad days and get in ruts, but life came at us fast and it’s really special to be here. To be playing well is also really special. I know Jenn is at home, probably following the scoring, so I’m excited to go in and get to talk to her.”
Robby Shelton, who led after 18 holes with a 10-under 61, posted a 1-under 70 in the second round and is two strokes back at 11-under 131. Shelton is currently second in The 25, 232 points behind leader Xinjun Zhang.