Illinois men’s golf readying up for stacked field at Southern Highlands Collegiate

By Gavin Good, Staff writer

For most college golf programs, a fourth-place finish at the opening competition of the season with three other ranked teams in it is not bad.

The Illini are not like most college golf teams, though — they want to win titles, and nothing else will suffice.

Head coach Mike Small emphasized improvement, specifically mental focus, for his Illini ahead of the Southern Highlands Collegiate.

“We go to win every tournament; we are going to win the championship,” Small said. “We want to show up and play, but also we need to improve on things from the last week too. So first goal is to win, second is to improve in areas we need to improve from last week.”

The No. 4 Illini will face No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 7 USC, No. 9 Texas Tech, No. 10 Stanford, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 17 UNLV (the hosts), No. 23 San Diego State, No. 25 Arizona State and more in a talented field in Las Vegas.

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Illinois does not have much time to prepare and shore up its weaknesses from Louisiana either, transitioning quickly between tournaments. The team only have five days in between and even less time to practice given the cross-country travel involved.

“We just need to reestablish what we are and how we play,” Small said. “Go out and put the peg in the ground and run it over, see what happens and continue to take care of our own individual needs on the golf course and status of our game and add them up at the end.”

The Illini will likely need improved performances from their young supporting cast of freshmen, as they will not rely on just Nick Hardy — currently Co-Big Ten Golfer of the Week — and Dylan Meyer to carry the team amidst the top-tier competition.

“I want to bring these guys along, these freshmen, and even Edoardo, bring them along and show them how we do things and win championships,” Meyer said.

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