Illinois men’s golf looks to continue their tradition of success with two new recruits heading into 2022–2023 season


Photo courtesy of Illinois Athletics

Illinois Men’s Golf head coach Mike Small poses with the team after winning the 2022 Big Ten Championships on May 1. The team will be welcoming two new faces graduate student Matthis Besard and incoming freshman Ryan Voois.

By Matthew Sinele, Staff Writer

Head coach Mike Small hasn’t stopped looking for ways to help the men’s golf program in Champaign ascend to the next level, as the Illini will be joined by well-proven graduate transfer Matthis Besard and highly touted incoming freshman Ryan Voois.

While the foundation of the team is already in place for the next season with the entirety of Illinois’s starting lineup returning, both Besard and Voois will help to accent the roster.

Originally from Oudenaarde, Belgium, Matthis Besard is the newest addition to the Illini. Besard golfed during his undergraduate career at Southern Illinois University where he torched the Missouri Valley Conference, recording a school record seven individual titles and was named to the all-conference team three times.

He started his career at SIU being named the conference newcomer of the year in 2018. This past season Besard’s accolades came full circle as he was named the 2022 MVC Player of the Year, and led the Salukis to a conference championship and a chance to dance in the NCAA regional. 

On what made him choose Illinois, Besard pointed to the respect he has for head coach Mike Small as one of the deciding factors, calling him “one of the best, if not the best” coaches in the game. As the newcomer gears up for the fall season, coach Small and the Illinois faithful look to have been blessed with yet another outstanding Belgian golfer.

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    The next piece of the recruitment class is a member of the 2026 class, Ryan Voois. He comes to Illinois from Ladera Ranch, Calif., where he attended Tesoro High School. 

    Voois’s junior golfing career is littered with success. His 2019 season included a league championship in which he received MVP honors. Two seasons later he was able to secure another league championship and propelled his team to a division title. 

    This past season he looked to be in even better form, finishing top 10 in his last 11 events nationally and one 25th place finish coming at the IMG Junior World Championships fielding some of the best youth talent. That builds Mr. Voois’s resume to be something to look to as a means to what his future holds in college.

    Mike Small loves the 2021 AJGA Academic All-Americans effort both on and off the greens.  

    “The way that he goes about his business and challenges himself in the classroom and on the golf course, is something that has impressed me from the first time we talked,” Small told Illini Athletics.

    While next year’s lineup might not shift a whole lot with the return of the Illini starters, these additions to the roster are exemplary of how Mike Smalls has built one of the best golf programs in the country. The mix of budding talent in younger players and the know-how of older guys in the system has helped to create a winning culture at Illinois.

    Next season looks to be no change of pace with two elite golfers joining the scene to jumpstart the Fall season.


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