A strong start over his first five holes helped propel former Rochelle Township High School student-athlete Andrew Wilkinson to an opening-round, 5-under-par 67 during the 2020 Dr. Ross Invitational at Jupiter Country Club in Florida earlier this month.
Although it was his first time playing the tournament, Wilkinson managed the tough par-72 course well, cooling off with a 1-under-par 71 during his final round to finish sixth out of 75 players with 138. The performance was a welcoming sight for Wilkinson, who golfed at RTHS before playing two years collegiately at both Rock Valley College and Illinois-Springfield.
“I was happy with my finish for the tournament,” said Wilkinson, who currently plays on the West Florida Golf Tour. “After a few rough weeks of getting back into tournament play, it was nice to be in contention again and feel the pressure and competitive juices of playing on the last day. I started really strong, which lifted me mentally and helped me stay confident throughout the first day. I thought I managed the course really well.”
Wilkinson finished only six strokes behind tournament champion Mike Visacki, who carded 132 for the title. Wilkinson, who currently resides in Tampa, Florida, said the 2020 season has been a series of adjustments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While he took home $270 and 2,800 tour points from his single-round 69 at the Ritz Carlton Spring Classic in May, Wilkinson said his plans to compete internationally have changed as a result of the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 was and still is making things tough,” Wilkinson said. “I was supposed to travel to Asia and play in a very important tournament that wound up being cancelled. I also had a few events on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica that were cancelled. I’ve been focusing on the positives though, and I took the time off to really work on my fitness and my training so that I would be ready for when things ramped up again. The West Florida Golf Tour is a good local tour to stay sharp, and there are a lot of good players in Florida, so it’s great competition for me.”
While COVID-19 has limited Wilkinson’s competitive opportunities this season, the former Hub still aspires to travel and play international tournaments in 2021. Wilkinson, who has worked his way onto the World Ranking List, said he’s aiming to secure a few victories and remain in the hunt for several more over the remainder of his 2020 season.
“I was looking to head over to Asia and down to South America before the COVID-19 situation, but now I’m going to play around the United States in some opens and other events,” Wilkinson said. “My goals for the remainder of 2020 have changed a bit. It’s been such a weird year with everything that has happened, and I don’t really have a chance to advance myself until next year. I’m looking to build my confidence up and get ready for whatever comes up in the future.”