Illinois Men’s golf resists Mother Nature, places second in Wolf Run Intercollegiate

By Rich Mayor

The Illinois men’s golf team brushed aside a delay and an angry spell of Mother Nature as it rode a third-round best score of 294 to jump from fourth, finishing in second place at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate at Wolf Run Golf Course in Zionsville, Ind. The Illini recorded an overall total of 890 strokes on the tournament.

The final round included about an hour rain delay, with many players needing to play just one or two holes to finish their rounds. Play resumed around 3 p.m. and finished shortly before 4 p.m.

“I think [the weather] was a big factor – it was very windy yesterday,” head coach Mike Small said. “It’s not an easy golf course to begin with, then today we played in that storm. You could see every team playing the holes in different conditions, and it really was a struggle for everybody.”

Sophomore Scott Langley paced the Illini in the third round, firing a two-under par 69 in the difficult conditions. His score was the individual best of the round and tournament, and his overall score of 222 was good for a ninth place tie.

“Today was the toughest day, condition-wise, and Scott wasn’t happy with his round [Saturday],” Small said. “So today he regrouped, came back, and proved what kind of player he really is.”

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    Juniors Zach Barlow and Matt Hoffman also had promising showings over the weekend, as the pair tied for 14th place individually with 223.

    The University of Michigan won the tournament with a total of 880 strokes, besting the Illini by 10. Louisville rounded out the top three with a score of 891.

    The Illini shot identical rounds of 298 on Saturday, which put them tied for fourth place with No. 20 Indiana. But their strong third round and lackluster performances by Louisville and Kentucky on Sunday allowed Illinois to leapfrog the two squads and into sole possession of second place.

    “We didn’t play as sharp as we normally do, and we didn’t start the tournament how we wanted to,” Small said. “But what impressed me was the resiliency and the fight we showed down the stretch.”

    The Illini return to the links on Friday, when they travel to Olympia Fields in Chicago for the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational on Sept. 19-21. They’ll look to improve on various areas before Olympia Fields, one of the premier tournaments of the fall.

    “Our wood-play needs to get better, our putting and short games need to get better, and we need to be crisper and sharper at the beginning of each round,” Small said. “I think we started off each of the rounds this weekend a little slowly, so we need to be a little quicker. We just need to be sharper.”