Illinois men’s golf team struggles in Las Vegas

By Ryan Wilson

Tweet: “We played some scared golf today,” @MikeSmall said of @IlliniMGolf.

The Illinois men’s golf team played its second-worst tournament — with respect to par — of the season at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas.

Head coach Mike Small said the biggest challenge for Illinois was not No. 4 Southern California or No. 6 Arizona State.

Small said the biggest challenge for the Illini was themselves.

Sophomore Dylan Meyer led the team at 4-over 220 to tie for 16th. Senior Charlie Danielson tied for 19th with a 5-over 221. Senior Alex Burge and sophomore Nick Hardy finished one and four strokes behind Danielson, respectively, at the par-72, 7,510-yard Southern Highlands Golf Club.

The team sat in second after the windy first round. Danielson, who had four straight birdies on each of his first four holes, and Meyer were in 10th at even par.

But in round two, all of the Illini’s scores ballooned, and Burge and Danielson went on multiple streaks of bogeys. Burge also double bogeyed the par-4 16th.

“It is early in the season, and we need to establish some resiliency,” Small said after the round. “Good teams expect themselves, and find themselves, to be near the top of the leaderboard in tournaments. Good players will always find themselves at the top.”

Illinois was unable to bounce back from its lower scores in the second round, as the scores continued to drop to a point Small had not seen in awhile. In the back nine of the round, each student-athlete had at least one double-bogey. Hardy had four and added two bogeys in the last seven holes, giving him a 10-over after the turn.

“We haven’t had a day like that in a long time; in a period of about five holes, we had more big numbers than I’ve seen in a long time,” Small said.

He said the team struggled with driving and putting the ball. It also had a hard time getting in a comfortable mindset.

“If this was a prize fight, they would have stopped it,
because we were going the wrong way,” Small said.

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