Men’s golf looking to end fall season on high note

After winning two of their first three tournaments this season, the Illini men’s golf team is entering unfamiliar grounds as they travel to Upper Arlington, Ohio, to play in the Jack Nicklaus Invite.

Monday marks the first time Illinois has played in the event. It is also the first tournament where the Illini will get out of the Illinois-Indiana area and travel a greater distance.

“It’s definitely going to be nice to travel a bit with the team,” senior Chris DeForest said. “The change of scenery will be good for the team, and we will hope for a good finish.”

Entering the tournament, Illinois wants to keep its momentum from last week’s win at the D.A. Weibring Invite in Normal, Ill., where it won by 28 strokes.

“We have to keep it going here. This week’s practice has gone great,” Illini head coach Mike Small said. “We’ve been working on more of the individual aspects of every player’s game.”

After the Jack Nicklaus competition, the Illini will not return to action in tournaments until early March, when the real season kicks off. The Illini are out to put a lasting impression on their last event in 2010.

“We’re going there to win,” Small said. “All tournaments count the same come spring time. We’re going against quality competition, and we need to make the most of our opportunities.”

The field at the Jack Nicklaus is strong this year, including top-tier teams such as Texas, USC and Arkansas.

“I think we’re fully capable of winning this tournament,” DeForest said. “We just have to keep it going from last week. We made some adjustments in practice, and I think that it’s really going to help us.”