Baumgarten having productive season for Illini men’s golf

By Rachel Spencer, Staff Writer

Sophomore Bryan Baumgarten was named the Big Ten Golfer of the Week last Wednesday following his first career tournament win at the Big Horn Invitational in Palm Desert, California in March. This marks the first time Baumgarten has earned the title, joining seniors Dylan Meyer and Nick Hardy as the third Illini to gain the honor this season.

The California native arrived on the Illinois campus as a student-athlete in fall 2016, but Baumgarten’s history with the Illini goes back much further. Both his parents and grandparents attended the University, making the decision to further both his golf career and education in Champaign-Urbana a relatively easy decision.

“Having the Illini blood in my family, I’ve always been a fan,” Baumgarten said. “I came to this school before, when I was younger, so when I had the opportunity to play golf here, it was kind of a no-brainer, just because of the program’s history, the coach and the academics here.”

Baumgarten’s family has also played a large role in helping him become the golfer he is today. His older brother Brandon is currently a senior at UC Davis, where he is also on the golf team. A friendly sibling rivalry between the two pushed Baumgarten to constantly improve his game to keep up with his brother.

But the relatively young member of the men’s golf team doesn’t think his age has any effect on his performance at the college level. He chalks his success up to one important factor — maturity.

“Both Nick (Hardy) and Dylan (Meyer), as leaders, seniors, they’ve gone through it all,” Baumgarten said. “They have experience, they have success, and to just surround yourself with people who know how to do it the right way, how to get the job done on and off the golf course, is very helpful.”

Time spent with seasoned players such as Meyer and Hardy showed through his performance at Big Horn. After an opening round score of 70 — 2-under-par — Baumgarten kept a level head and finished at the top of the leaderboard by the end of the weekend.

Off the course, Baumgarten exudes the calm, mild-mannered aura of a golfer far older than 19 years old. A true Illini fan, he enjoys supporting the football and men’s basketball programs alongside his teammates. In his spare time, he can be caught catching up on the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” or dabbling in painting or drawing. Of course, he can also be found following the PGA Tour, citing former Illini Steve Stricker as one of his favorite golfers.

“His success, his professionalism; definitely a career you wouldn’t turn down,” Baumgarten said.

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