Dominant win for Illinois men's golf at Crooked Stick

By Chris Kennedy

A back injury during a practice round left Danielson on the sideline for one of college golf’s premiere fall events. This week, the two-time All-American was back in action, taking the individual title and leading Illinois to victory at Indiana’s Crooked Stick Invitational. The No. 1-ranked Illini posted a dominant win, defeating Purdue, Duke and several other teams from around the Midwest.

It’s the second time this season that Purdue has finished second behind Illinois. The Boilermakers led the tournament after the first round Monday with a plus-four, 292 score. Illinois struggled in the first round with a nine-over team score that put them behind Purdue, Duke and Xavier. But the Illini recovered with a commanding second round, scoring nine-under as a team and distancing themselves from the competition. The next closest team, Kentucky, was 11 strokes behind Illinois.

The Illini didn’t play as strongly in the third round Tuesday, but their performance put even more space between them and the rest of the field. With a score of 290, Illinois was the only team with a team mark under 300 in the final round of play on the par-72 course. Even after a slow start, the Illini cruised to a 19-stroke victory over Purdue.

After a slow start, Danielson tied for the lowest round score of the tournament with a five-under 67 in the second. His two-under third round was the lowest mark of the round and clinched medalist honors after Kentucky’s Tyler McDaniel shot a plus-9 after hitting five-under in each of his first two rounds.

It was also a promising weekend for Danielson’s replacement at Olympia Fields, Edoardo Lipparelli. Lipparelli competed as an individual this week. He finished tied for 10th, ahead of Illini starters Alex Burge and Thomas Detry. Lipparelli finished the first day of play tied for fifth place after a strong two-under second round. Tuesday’s third round was the Lipparelli’s worst with a plus-five, but it’s still a positive showing from the freshman.

Sophomore Dylan Meyer finished even to tie for third overall, highlighted by a second round 68. Fellow sophomore Nick Hardy worked his way up through the leaderboard Tuesday, improving from 11th to tie for sixth. Burge, a redshirt senior, finished tied for 12th and was an anomaly for the Illini, scoring his best round in the first and his worst in the second. Detry had a rough go in the final round with a 10-over, after ending the first day tied for 15th.

Head coach Mike Small said the Illini’s biggest challenge heading into the tournament would be the course. The Illini were the only team that was anywhere close to hitting par for the course with a plus-two overall score. Purdue finished plus-21, and no other team finished better than plus-30.

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@ChrisKennedy_4Sources:http://sidearm.sites.s3.amazonaws.com/fightingillini.com/documents/2015/10/12/RD2_Team_Top20.pdf?id=17616 http://www.golfstatresults.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=8382