Illini men’s golf team dominates in Florida, Brendan O’Reilly picks up first win of year

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Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Senior Brendan O’Reilly watches as his ball sails through the air after a swing during competition.

By Christian Jones, Contributing Writer

The most recent win for the Illinois men’s golf team came at the Sunshine State Amateur in Lake County, Florida, on the El Campeón golf course, as senior golfer Brendan O’Reilly finished atop the leaderboard after the third round on Nov. 25. The win marked the fifth time an Illini golfer was victorious in an amateur event this fall.

The Illini as a whole dominated the competition, with three other Illini golfers following O’Reilly’s lead with top-five finishes: sophomore Jerry Ji finished tied for second, while juniors Tommy Kuhl and Adrien Dumont De Chassart tied for fifth.

O’Reilly recorded his first win of 2020 after he ended the shortened spring season without a victory. The Hinsdale native impressed during the first round, where he birdied five times over the back nine.

Though El Campeón is a difficult course, it is not that tough compared to other collegiate courses. Despite going in with some familiarity having played the course about seven years ago, O’Reilly said he prepares the same way for every event.

“The harder courses are just a bit longer, a bit tighter and they’re going to require you to be a bit more honest,” O’Reilly said. “On easier courses, there are like five or six holes where you’re like, ‘alright I can kinda cruise through this and make a big run.’”

Each day of the tournament O’Reilly made his run over the back nine, shooting over par just twice in that section throughout the three-day event.

Heading into the third and final round, O’Reilly trailed just two competitors, including Illini sophomore Jerry Ji. On the first hole, a par five, O’Reilly recorded an eagle, moving him up to second.

With two holes remaining on the back nine, there was a three-way tie for first. O’Reilly proceeded to birdie El Campeón’s signature 17th hole, which features a tricky double-dog leg, before following it up with a birdie on the 18th hole to clinch the win.

“Yea, 17 was huge, I birdied the final day to take a one-shot lead,” O’Reilly said, “So that was just absolutely huge to make that birdie and set myself up for 18.”

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