Men’s golf looks to build on early success this weekend


Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois’ Luke Guthrie and other members of the Illinois team practice at the driving range at Stone Creek Golf Club in Urbana on Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

By Gavin Good, Contributing writer

The Illinois men’s golf team has gotten off to a bright start, winning the Wolf Run Intercollegiate and its third OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational championship.

At Wolf Run, which was held in Zionsville, Illinois, the Illini trailed by 11 strokes heading into the final round but overcame the deficit despite the being shortened by rain. Junior Nick Hardy led the team while taking first place overall, shooting 4-under par for the tournament.

At the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational, junior Dylan Meyer tied for second and Hardy tied for fourth, which helped propel the Illini to a 13-stroke victory. The team tally was 5-over. Oklahoma State, ranked No. 4 at the time in the Golfstat rankings, came in second at 18-over, with then No. 1 Texas taking third at 24-over.

Hardy said that there is an air of positivity after the two tournament titles.

“I think it is exciting that we got off to such a great start with a young team,” Hardy said. “We should have some ups and downs this season, like every season, but it is definitely positive that we got off to such a strong start and really set a base to what we can do this season and hopefully keep getting better.”

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The team will look to continue their success in Chicago at the Northern Intercollegiate at Beverly Country Club Sunday and Monday. Meyer said that the team is taking advantage of the break and is working on improving their fundamentals, as well as individual players’ weaknesses.

“We are just really working on fundamentals, honing in on what we do and what we need to work on subconsciously to become better on the golf course,” Meyer said. “Everyone has their own flaws in their game that they need to work on, so we have been addressing those all week long.”

Like Meyer, Hardy stressed working on individuals’ flaws and said that head coach Mike Small has given each player specific areas of their game to work on.

“We look at our stats for the first few tournaments and work on things that we didn’t like in our stats,” Hardy said. “I think as a team we can clean up some stuff individually and I think that will gradually help us as we go along in the fall season.”

For the two juniors, keeping the team in the right mindset has been a priority. The team has no seniors this season, and the two have taken leadership roles upon themselves. Meyer has stressed that staying focused on the present is an important idea for the younger players to grasp.

“It is definitely keeping it in the moment, the past tournaments don’t matter,” Meyer said. “We’re a young team, these guys don’t really understand that, but Nick and I do.”

Meyer and Hardy will continue to impart their knowledge on the younger players in preparation for the Northern Intercollegiate, in which the team may face more difficult conditions than they have so far.

Hardy is looking forward to the challenge and is eager to see how the young team responds, especially freshmen Bryan Baumgarten and Michael Feagles. The duo hail from California and Arizona, respectively, and not have not played often in rough weather conditions.

“Hopefully the weather is bad,” Hardy said. “It could get nasty in a week and a half. We have a couple kids from the west coast, they have never seen anything like it before so I would like to see some nasty weather and see how they respond.”

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