Illinois men’s golf team practice for stroke-play Louisiana Classics

By Ryan Wilson

.@IlliniMGolf to compete in tournament they won by 22 strokes last year

The Illinois men’s golf team won the Louisiana Classics by 22 strokes last season. It’s the team’s first stroke-play tournament of this year’s spring season.

Head coach Mike Small is taking Charlie Danielson, Thomas Detry, Nick Hardy, Dylan Meyer, Alex Burge and Edoardo Lipparelli to the 31st annual tournament at Par-72, 7,098-year Oakburn Country Club in Lafeyette, Louisiana.

Freshman Trevor Gold was the only Illini to miss the tournament, and Small said, “We can only travel five guys. Trevor’s got a long way to go.”

The team will look to Danielson to help the team win the Classics for the fourth-straight time and fifth time in its six appearances. Danielson made his PGA debut at the Northern Trust Open from Feb. 18-21 at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. 

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It is referred to as one of the best courses on the PGA Tour, and now Danielson, who finished tied for fifth with a 3-under 213 at last year’s Louisiana Classics, joins Illinois on a course ranked as the fourth-best in Louisiana by Golf Digest Magazine.

“The golf course is a perfect test for us this time of the year,” Small said, whose team is first in the latest Goflweek poll. “You have to drive it straight and think your way around the course. If you miss your drives on certain parts of this golf course, you can’t make pars; it’s very difficult.”

Illinois starts the 54-hole tournament tomorrow with two rounds. The second day of the event has the third and final round.

“That (the first day) is really one of my favorite days in golf, honestly. (We) just keep playing golf,” Hardy, who tied for 32nd with 6-over 222 last year, said.

At last year’s event, which was delayed for one hour and 15 minutes in the final round due to fog, senior Detry shot a team-best 13-under 203. It was the lowest 54-hole tournament score in relation to par by an Illini at that point in the season. Detry also shot a 6-under 66 in his bogey-free final round — his best score the season.

“Detry came up huge,” assistant coach Zach Barlow said after the 2015 tournament. “A 66 in those conditions and with those pins is special. It’s world class.”

Partly cloudy skies are forecasted for both days of this year’s Louisiana Classic. The Illini have a field of 10 of other competitors, highlighted by No. 33 Texas A&M and No. 45 Kansas.

“It’s a great event for us to warm up with,” Small said. “Next week, we head to Las Vegas for one of the biggest events in college golf.”

That event is the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, hosted by UNLV. Last season’s event was won by then-No. 4 Texas and the Illini finished sixth, 20 strokes behind the Longhorns.

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