Illini men’s golf ready for Purdue Invitational

By Dan Bernstein

The average “Sunday golfer” usually has a hard time finding fairways, hitting greens-in-regulation and making putts for par. Sophomore Thomas Detry is not your average Sunday golfer.

He hits fairways. He hits greens. He is consistent. He describes himself as an all-around solid golfer. Last week, he earned the title of Big Ten Golfer of the Week after his fourth place finish at the Augusta Invitational. Detry plans on continuing his success this weekend at the 7,259 yard, par-72 Kampen Golf Course in West Lafayette, Ind.

“My game is in good shape, and I’m feeling very confident right now,” Detry said. “My driving has been consistent, straight, long, and I’m able to shape shots very well. My mind-set putting and around the greens right now is also very solid as well.”

Detry, who got a new Odyssey putter a couple weeks ago, also just put a couple new wedges in his bag. He has been putting a lot of work into his approach shots in order to ensure he can regularly make pars and birdies.

Head coach Mike Small describes golf as a process. It is important for his players to stay consistent in what they have been doing well, while building on the aspects of their games that need improvement. Detry has adjusted quite well this spring.

“Thomas (Detry) is a good player, and good players keep improving,” Small said. “He’s worked hard at his game. His mind is in a good place; his focus is in a good place; and his golf swing just keeps getting better.”

The 15-team field this weekend at the Purdue Invitational will showcase some top teams, including No. 14 UCLA, No. 31 Kent State and No. 38 Purdue. The No. 9 Illini are the top-ranked team in the field.

The Kampen course played host to the 2008 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship and the 2011 Big Ten Championship; the Illini are familiar with many of the ins and outs of the course.

“Purdue is a long, moderate type of golf course,” Small said. “The greens are big, and the pins could be tough. There are also some holes that can catch up and grab you where you can make a bigger number on.”

It will be essential for the Illini to play smart golf on Saturday in order to put themselves in contention for the title in the final round. Making pars on the difficult holes and taking advantage by making birdies on the easier holes is something coach Small has stressed to his players this week.

“Our team goal is to win,” Detry said. “We know the course. It’s a fun, great course, and we want to build momentum for the Big Ten Championships.”

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