Guthrie takes title at Jack Nicklaus Invitational

The Illinois men’s golf team entered a land unknown this weekend going into the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Illinois had never played in this tournament or on this course before. It was a different type of challenge that the team had not faced this year.

“We knew that this course would be set up difficult,” senior Scott Langley said. “The pin locations were going to be tough, and we all heard about the greens and how it important it was to stay patient.”

It didn’t take long for Illinois to get off to the start it needed to compete. After the first 36 holes, the Illini stood only one shot off the lead. Illinois junior Luke Guthrie led the tournament after these first two rounds with a score of even par.

“I just started right out of the gun playing really well. I was managing my own game,” Guthrie said. “The greens were very difficult, but my putting was on, so it really helped my score.”

Langley was also in the heat of the action sitting at only one over after the first two rounds.

The third round was where the magic happened for Guthrie. He shot a course-record-breaking five-under 65, winning him the tournament.

“Tuesday was just a great day of golf for me. I went out there and played a solid round, made some clutch pars in the beginning, and everything took off from there,” Guthrie said. “I had 20-footers for par all day long, which makes a round of golf much simpler.”

As for the rest of the team, Langley struggled in the final round without a birdie to finish at plus nine, freshman Thomas Pieters finished at plus 13 and Chris DeForest carded a plus 13. The Illini ended up in second place overall by six strokes to the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Still, they believed there was a lot to be taken from this tournament before the team takes a five-month break.

“We didn’t win, but we all had good points during the tournament,” Langley said. “Oklahoma State is one of the best teams in the country, and to know we competed with them on a day where we didn’t all play our best game of golf is very encouraging. It gives us a lot of motivation going in to the spring knowing we can stay up to par with the best of them.”