Men’s golf season preview: Illini look for seventh straight Big Ten title, continued NCAA Championship success

The+Illinois+mens+golf+team+poses+with+their+Big+Ten+trophy+after+winning+the+2021+Big+Ten+Mens+Golf+Championship+May+2.+The+team+hopes+to+continue+their+past+momentum+as+the+new+season+starts.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Miller/B1G Ten/Illini Athletics

The Illinois men’s golf team poses with their Big Ten trophy after winning the 2021 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championship May 2. The team hopes to continue their past momentum as the new season starts.

By Andre Thomas, Staff Writer

Every year, the Illini prepare for a fall semester full of sports and late-night tournaments. Illinois men’s and women’s golf teams are two of those teams that start to in fall as well. With COVID-19 restrictions loosening and Illinois coming off a great performance at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships, there is no other team ready to start playing again more than it.

According to the Golf Coaches Association of America Coaches Poll, Illinois is ranked 10th coming into the preseason, and by no coincidence, head coach Mike Small won another Midwest Coach of the Year, making it the 11th in his career.  This is a perfect way to start the season, which starts with a trip to Bloomington, Indiana for the Hoosier Collegiate Invitational on Sept. 5 and 6.

Illinois constantly competes at a high level every year and started the month of August with that same mindset after Professional Golfers Association accepted Illinois alumni Darren “D.A” Points, Thomas Pieters and Michael Feagles into the PGA Barracuda Championship. This will be Pieters and Feagles’ second time and Points’ 362nd start on the PGA Tour. With four alumni in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship and Nick Hardy competing at the Pinnacle Bank Championship, which secured him a berth on the PGA Tour, golf season is starting off on the right note this year.

Last spring, Illinois men’s golf snatched five first-place finishes and two second-places finishes, including a sixth consecutive Big Ten tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Championship. After COVID-19 prevented the fall 2020 portion of the season from being played, incoming freshmen such as TJ Barger, Jackson Buchanan and Dylan Keating will be able to showcase their talents early on, while the Illini also face the losses of Feagles and Giovanni Tadiotto.

Despite losing two big contributors from last season, the Illini retain All-Big Ten First-Teamers Dumont de Chassart and Ji, with Dumont de Chassart also earning the conference’s Co-Golfer of the Year award.

The Illinois schedule is tough and very competitive for the team this year. The Illini travel to Bloomington to open their season on Sept. 5 before returning to their home state to host the Olympia Fields Country Club/Fighting Illini Invitational in Olympia Fields, Illinois on Sept. 17. 

Following an impressive spring campaign, Small and the Illini seek to make this their seventh consecutive Big Ten Championship and another chance to move past the NCAA Championship quarterfinals.

 

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