Illinois men’s golf crashes out of NCAA Regionals for first time in 14 years, misses out on Championship Round

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Photo courtesy of Danny Mattie/Illinois Athletics

Sophomore Piercen Hunt finishes his swing during the NCAA Regionals on Wednesday. Hunt gave a great performance on Wednesday during the NCAA Regionals however, the Illini were unable to take the victory and will not continue to the NCAA Championship on May 27.

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

Following three rounds of subpar performances, Illinois men’s golf’s season ended in disappointment in New Haven, Conn., after placing sixth at NCAA Regionals. The team will not be in the Championship Round for the first time in 14 years.

Coming off of three consecutive first place performances and an incredible comeback at the Big Ten Championships, signs pointed toward the Illini continuing their run of dominance at the New Haven Regional.

“We just picked a bad week to play bad,” head coach Mike Small told Illini Athletics after the third round.“From day one, we talk about it; if you don’t hit your standard these things can happen, and we didn’t hit our standard this week. We didn’t drive it well, our lag putting, and our scoring shots around the greens were not very good, and we just struggled all week. It’s a disappointing way to end the season. This hasn’t happened to us for a while, and it’s something that we don’t want to get used to.”

While the team shot poorly throughout the week, sophomore second-team All-Big Ten honoree Piercen Hunt led the entire regional after Round One, shooting a career-low 64 (-6) on Monday. With only senior Big Ten Golfer of the Year Adrien Dumont de Chassart and freshman Jackson Buchanan posting below par rounds, the Illini ended the day tied for fifth.

Round Two saw Hunt’s incredible first-round canceled out by the sophomore shooting a +6 on Tuesday. However, Dumont de Chassart and senior first-team All-Big Ten honoree Tommy Kuhl began to hit stride, with the pair combining to shoot -5 on the day. A worse day than Monday for the Illini, Tuesday saw the team slip down to sixth place, outside of the qualification zone.

Wednesday’s third round was a disappointing conclusion to the Illini’s season. Kuhl and Dumont de Chassart were the only Illini golfers that finished the event under par, with Kuhl’s -3 (T12) leading the way. Dumont de Chassart ended his week with a -2, finishing T15.

Hunt’s round one performance was unable to be recreated, as the sophomore posted a +4n the final day of competition, finishing 36. Buchanan’s first round was also his individual peak, as he finished T37 posting a score of +4 on the week. Sophomore Jerry Ji’s week was one to forget, as he rounded out the Illini lineup with a +11, finishing T57. Ji was the only Illini to not shoot a round under par.

This marks the end of the season for the Illini, as the program will now miss out on the NCAA Championship round in Scottsdale, Ariz. on May 27. Although this season’s disappointing end will haunt the Illini during the offseason, there is still a major positive to take away from this year’s tournament.

None of the starting five that won the Big Ten Championship and traveled to New Haven will be departing from the Illini roster, meaning Kuhl and Dumont de Chassart will be returning for a fifth year next year.

 

@DrewFriberg9

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