Men’s golf looks to link together third consecutive win

By Lee Ann Sangalang

One week away from heading to East Lansing, Mich., to play in the Big Ten Championships, the Illinois men’s golf team hopes to solidify its postseason lineup at the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday and Sunday.

The 14-team field will include ranked teams No. 4 Charlotte, No. 23 Michigan State and No. 24 Indiana on the course that will be used for the NCAA Championships later this year.

“This is the last tournament before the Big Ten,” assistant coach Zach Guthrie said. “This week is a little bit stronger of a field.

“We are going to be able to see where we stack up. And hopefully the momentum of doing well these past couple tournaments will be taken into the Big Ten, and then on to regionals and hopefully onto nationals.”

The team is fresh off back-to-back title wins, at the Marshall Invitational from April 4-5 and at last weekend’s Fighting Illini Spring Invitational.

The Illini have had a deep lineup the entire season, each week featuring a different rotation. Three Illini golfers have won individual titles this season. Redshirt sophomore Matt Hoffman captured the individual title at the Fighting Illini Spring Invitational last weekend. Freshman Chris DeForest won the individual title at the D.A. Weibring Invitational on Oct. 8, and freshman Scott Langley took first place at the Argonaut Invitational on Feb. 26.

All seven players who have been in the lineup have led the team on different occasions – Mark Ogren (Gopher Invitational), Larry Blatt (Olympia Fields), Jon Krick (Isleworth), Zach Barlow (The Wolverine), DeForest, Langley and Hoffman – providing a lot of potential for the postseason lineup.

DeForest and Blatt tied for fourth place as individuals at last weekend’s Illini Spring Invitational.

“We’re playing a little bit of a different lineup from this past weekend,” Guthrie said. “We had two players who played as individuals who played pretty well and tied for fourth place. It seemed fair to the guys to put them in the lineup for this week.”

On top of that, the team has had success across the spectrum. It boasts two freshman, two sophomores, two juniors and a senior, allowing it to call on experience and grow for the coming seasons.

“A few guys overlap a few years and it helps to have that experience,” Guthrie said. “Then those guys can help the others.

“At the same time, it’s good to have some fresh blood that are hungry to play and make themselves a name.”

The team has been as successful as its individual competitors. The Illinois team has placed in the top 10 of every single tournament. In addition, it holds two third-place medals, one second-place and three championship titles.