Illinois men’s golf building on resume

By Ryan Wilson

It was a busy winter break for the Illinois men’s golf team. Three players competed in tournaments, two flew to Europe and one built a sandcastle.

Dylan Meyer and Alex Burge competed in the New Year’s Invitational from Jan. 7-10 in St. Petersburg, Florida, where Meyer created an Illini-themed sandcastle. The castle was shaped like Illinois’ victory badge logo with grooved edges to form the shield and indents between the ridges below the sand-piled I.

“Dylan likes to have fun and use his creativity in many ways,” said Illinois head coach Mike Small. “I thought it was a pretty good job. Heck, his sand game on the golf course usually doesn’t produce those good of results.”

Meyer shot a 284 to tie eighth, while Burge shot a 303 and tied 65th in the tournament. It was the second-worst finish of Burge’s college career and his worst since shooting a 314 at the Big Ten Championships from April 27-29, 2012.

But in Maricopa, Arizona, from Jan. 4-6, Nick Hardy finished second at the Saguaro Amateur by one stroke, after bogeying the 18th hole, dropping out of the lead and giving the win to Texas Tech’s Wes Artec.

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Small said in order to prevent his team from growing rusty during break and seeing a dip in its scores, he encouraged all of his players to practice and compete during break. He said every player did so in warm-weather areas.

Teammates Edorado Lipparelli and Thomas Detry flew to Europe. Lipparelli is a native of Ronciglione, Italy, and Detry is from Brussels, Belgium.

Small said he didn’t stay in contact with the players during break. He just scheduled tournaments, recruited, tried to improve the Demirjian Golf Practice Facility and prepared for the spring season.

The Illini enter the spring season in pursuit of their ninth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and first NCAA Championship in program history. They’re second in the nation behind Auburn, according to Golfweek’s latest rankings.

“Everyone is different, but playing, practicing and competing is the best way to stay in tune with your game,” Small, who has played in 12 majors, said. “However, a break from the game has its benefit as well.”

The season starts Feb. 1 in Placida, Florida, for the Tinervin Cup.

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A previous version of this article stated that the Illinois’ men’s golf team was scheduled to begin its season on Feb. 2. It is scheduled to begin its season on Feb. 1. The Daily Illini regrets this error.