Men’s golf dominates Wolf Run

In an event without head coach Mike Small, the Illinois men’s golf team didn’t seem notice his absence this weekend at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate.

The Illini dominated the field, winning the team event with the top four individual scores in one of the best rounds in school history. The team’s 8-under 844 is the eighth-best score in Illinois history and was 33 strokes better than second place Auburn’s 877. It was the team’s lowest weekend since 2010 and Illinois’ fourth consecutive victory at the Wolf Run event in Zionsville, Ind.

“You don’t see that a lot. I’m not even sure what the largest margin of victory is for the program,” said assistant coach Justin Fetcho, who fulfilled head coaching duties in Small’s absence. “To play against top schools like Auburn and Kentucky and Indiana … to win by that kind of margin is uncommon. You know that the past two days of golf that these guys played was pretty special.”

Fetcho assumed head coaching duties for the weekend while Small was competing in the PGA Cup, a tournament where PGA Professionals from the United States and England compete against each other, like the Ryder Cup.

While the Illini were nearly assured the team championship after the first round of competition — Illinois led by an astounding 15 strokes after the first round and by 25 after 36 holes — there was a stiff competition among teammates for the individual honors.

Sophomore Thomas Detry held the lead wire-to-wire for his first collegiate victory, while teammates Brian Campbell, David Kim and Charlie Danielson rounded out the top four. Detry and Campbell were the only two players under par for the tournament, posting 4-under and 1-under, respectively.

“You better believe there’s competition going on between these guys,” Fetcho said. “Once we tee it up, we’re all trying to win this tournament individually. But once we make that last putt on 18, we all come together as a team. That’s what’s so great about this team – they understand that concept.”

While sophomore Danielson was fourth overall in the tournament, he posted the second-lowest score in the field with a final round 67. He was 5-under on the front nine in the round. Only IUPUI’s Santiago Ruiz posted a lower number with a final round 65. On the par-71 course, the Illini had just eight individual rounds over par for the event, with Detry posting an impressive 69, 69, 71 scorecard.

Fellow Big Ten programs were well off the pace on the leaderboard. Minnesota finished in fourth place, while Indiana and Wisconsin ended up fifth and eighth, respectively.

The Illini will have Small back at the helm in two weeks for The Macdonald Cup in New Haven, Conn., on Oct. 5-6.

Stephen can be reached at [email protected] and @steve_bourbon.