Illini golf coach wins Illinois tourney, prepares for PGA

Mike Small competes in the 58th Illinois Golf Open Championship. Photo courtesy of the Illinois PGA/Rob Wojtow

Illinois PGA/Rob Wojtow

Mike Small competes in the 58th Illinois Golf Open Championship. Photo courtesy of the Illinois PGA/Rob Wojtow

By Steve Contorno

For the third year in a row, Illinois men’s golf coach Mike Small snagged the Illinois Golf Open Championship title. The tournament was preparation for this weekend’s PGA Championship, which Small will be competing in.

The 58th annual event held at The Glen in Glenview, Ill., was shortened to 36 holes following a second-round rain out. Small entered the final round on Wednesday four shots off the lead, but shot a 6-under par round of 66 to capture the championship with a final score of -8.

According to a press release, Small was already on his way to the PGA Championship before he learned he had won. It wasn’t until he was on the plane headed for Tulsa, Okla., where the championship begins on Thursday, that he was informed he was the winner.

The victory was Small’s fourth title in the last five years. Former Illini Joe Affrunti won the event in 2004, the only year Small did not.

Current Illini Jonathan Krick finished the tournament -1 and in 19th place. Kevin Steelman of Winfield and Joseph Cermak of Chicago finished two strokes behind Small at -6.

Small will be competing in his third PGA Championship and seventh major overall. The Illini coach will tee off at 3:45 p.m. on Thursday and 10:30 a.m. on Friday. He is grouped with Nick Dougherty from England and John Rollins of Virginia.