Men’s golf places 8th at Olympia Fields Invitational

It was the same old story for the men’s golf team as they finished tied for eighth place at the Olympia Fields Invitational for the second consecutive season.

The IIlini started with a rough first round, finishing 12 strokes back from the eventual tournament winners Stanford. The course proved to get the best of all the teams as no school finished the weekend in red numbers.

“The scores were definitely higher than usual,” assistant coach Zach Guthrie said. “There was a premium on ball striking and off the tee as the fairways were so narrow. The hole locations were also where they were for the 2003 U.S. Open so it was very difficult to get to the pin.”

Illinois was led by junior Mason Jacobs, whose 6-over-par weekend earned him an 11th-place finish, highlighted by two even-par rounds on the first and last days of the tournament.

“My first and third round, I was playing very, very well,” Jacobs said. “I was keeping the ball in play, which was very key with the tricky pins on every hole. I didn’t have many bogeys or birdies those two rounds though, mostly just pars, which works well on that course.”

Jacobs struggled in the second round, and was not alone, as none of the Illini golfers shot under par.

“The wind came up like crazy,” senior Luke Guthrie said. “It made it a lot more difficult to hit the fairways. The rough was also very wet and juicy, which made it very tough to hit the green if you weren’t in the fairway.”

Luke Guthrie shot 7-over for the weekend.

The Illini now have two weeks to prepare for the D.A. Weibring Invitational in Normal, Ill. The Orange and Blue dominated the field last season, winning by 28 strokes over second-place Iowa State.

“We have two weeks to prepare which is good,” Zach Guthrie said. “We’ve been on the road for two straight weeks in competition so it’ll be nice to be at home for a little bit. All the guys now have six tournament rounds under their belt so I think we’ll all be better prepared.”

After not finishing in the top five in either of their first two tournaments, the Illini look to change the complexion of their season with a bounce-back effort in Normal.

“Even though the finish was not what we wanted, there were still positives we could take as a team from this weekend,” Jacobs said. “It’s a strong field at a tough course, but we just have to put it behind us. We’re still staying positive and are focused on having another successful season.”