Chaussard leads Illini in tourney; team finishes eighth

By Jon Gluskin

It was business as usual at the Windon Memorial Classic for senior Garrett Chaussard.

Chaussard was the top-scorer for the Illini for the third consecutive tournament, tying for ninth overall. He helped the Illini finish in eighth place out of 18 teams at Northwestern.

Coming off of his first collegiate tournament win last week at the Northern Intercollegiate, Chaussard shot 71-72-74, a total of 4-over par 217.

With nine holes to go, Chaussard was close to the lead, but then things didn’t go too well for him.

“I think I put a little too much pressure on myself down the stretch and I think that’s what caused it,” Chaussard said. “I’m definitely not disappointed. I’m happy with how I played overall.”

While Chaussard would have liked to perform better, head coach Mike Small is pleased with how Chaussard has been stepping up for the Illini.

“Everyone needs a leader,” Small said. “He’s doing a good job with that. Now we need everyone else to follow suit and follow his lead and start shooting low scores.”

All five teams competing from the Big Ten finished in the top 10. Northwestern won the tournament with a score of 865. Duke followed with an 869, and Purdue and Kent State tied for third at 870. The Illini’s score of 885 placed them in the top 10.

“There were some top national teams there, but we beat them,” Small said. “But there were teams in our conference that finished at the top. That showed how strong our conference is, nationally. This shows the caliber of Big Ten golf and where it’s going.”

Small said he saw improvement in his team, but that on some of the easier holes, his team couldn’t convert.

No player shot a single round under par, although Chaussard and junior Blair Harkins each had a round of par-71.

Harkins finished tied for 14th with 219. Freshmen Danny Zimmerman and Andy Mack tied for 44th place, shooting 226. Senior Mike O’Neal tied for 58th at 229.

“Everybody on the team at one point or another did some really good things, especially Andy and Blair, who played really solid last rounds,” Chaussard said. “That gave them confidence.”

Chaussard said all of the good things he and his team have done are encouraging and show the team’s potential to play better golf. Chaussard said his team needs to be more consistent with their play.

He also said he and the team need to become better at handling the mental aspect of golf.

“A lot of golf is learning about yourself and learning how you handle different situations,” Chaussard said. “There’s no right way. It’s whatever works for you. It kind of points to the level of concentration that you need to have.

“All of us have the physical ability. It’s a huge mental game when we’re out there. We’ve been all learning through the first three tournaments how to handle that,” he said.

The Illini will compete again Monday and Tuesday at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in Fairfax, Calif.

“We’re going to build off our successes and address our weaknesses,” Small said.

Chaussard also said his team is on its way to improving where necessary.

“We’re going to try to get better every competition, and as long as we keep getting better, we’ll get the results we want,” he said.