Illini men’s golf breaks record, repeat as Louisiana Classics champions

By Dan Bernstein

The Illinois men’s golf team was able to prove why it’s the No. 6 team in the nation this week, as it defended its title at the 54-hole Louisiana Classics tournament in Lafayette, La., to a field of 12 teams.

While winter weather in Champaign has prevented the team from practicing outside this year, the Illini were still able to showcase their talents Monday and Tuesday at the par-72, 7,098-yard Oakbourne Country Club.

The Illini finished first in the team standings, largely due to their record-breaking team score Monday afternoon. They fired an 18-under-par team score, which broke the record for the lowest team score in relation to par in school history. Junior Brian Campbell and senior Jonathan Hauter led the way with respective scores of 66 and 67, while Thomas Detry and Charlie Danielson also contributed to the record-breaking performance with scores of 68 and 69, respectively.

“The second round won us the tournament,” head coach Mike Small said. “We had guys making a lot of birdies and shooting 5 and 6-under-par, which flip-flopped us from being down in the first round to being up in the second, which gave us enough of a lead to hold on.”

After 36 holes of golf Monday, all five of the Illini were in the top 10 in the individual standings, while the team led by 13 shots in the team standings over Louisiana State. Campbell held a one-stroke lead at 9-under-par after the first two rounds, while Detry was in fourth place at 5-under. Danielson and David Kim were tied for fifth at 4-under-par, while Hauter was in a four-way tie for 10th.

In recent years, Illinois has been a longer-hitting team capable of hitting the golf ball deep down the fairway to use length to its advantage. This year, Small thinks of his team as a group of finesse players, meaning each player needs to focus more on utilizing their own skill set to attack golf courses. The Illini still have guys who can hit the ball a long way, but being able to score will result more from being solid around the greens.

“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I did on Monday, but I managed to make a couple good up-and-downs and a couple of putts,” Detry said. “Overall, I’m pretty happy with my game. The course was pretty wide open, so in upcoming tournaments I’m going to need to work on hitting more fairways.”

Despite rain during the final round of play Tuesday, the Illini were able to manage the conditions well enough to win the team championship outright. Danielson and Detry put up respective scores of 3-under-par 69 and 2-under-par 70 Tuesday, both finishing tied for second in the individual standings. Danielson was able to card five birdies and only two bogeys in his final round, while Detry carded three birdies and only one bogey.

“Winning here is a big plus,” Detry said. “Mentally for the team, winning always feels good. We all saw that we are able to shoot some low scores, make some birdies and get a win.”

Campbell carded a final round of 77 to finish tied for sixth, while Hauter finished tied for 13th and Kim tied for 20th.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @yaboybernie11.