Illinois men’s golf blows lead at Boilermaker Invitational

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Illini sophomore golfer Thomas Detry watches his shot at a previous event this season. Detry helped Illinois finish 2nd at the Boilermaker Invitational this weekend.

By Dan Bernstein

After consistent play throughout the first two rounds of the tournament on Saturday, the Illini men’s golf team took a five-stroke lead into the final round of the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind, before faltering on Sunday. The Illini finished second behind Iowa, who made up 10 strokes to beat Illinois by one. 

All week, head coach Mike Small stressed the importance of taking advantage of the easier par-5’s at the 7,259-yard Kempen Course. If the Illini could take advantage of some of the par-5’s, then the mistakes made on some of the harder par-4’s would be less detrimental.

The Illini played smart golf in rounds one and two on Saturday and held a five-stroke lead (+5) over Louisville (+10) heading into Sunday’s final round of the 15-team tournament. Hauter led the way for the Illini with rounds of 74 and 70, respectively, which placed him sixth after the first two rounds. Thomas Detry carded rounds of 72 and 74 after the first day, while Brian Campbell shot 72 and 75. Charlie Danielson and David Kim also contributed to the Illini’s first round success with rounds of 74 and 71, and 73 and 75.

Detry, despite making two double-bogeys, was still able to card an even par-72 on Saturday morning.

“I was confident about my game, and I managed to make a couple of birdies,” Detry said. “I holed out from 140 yards on hole 10 for eagle and my game felt pretty good. I was able to come back and fight back and make some birdies.”

A five-shot lead in college golf is never comfortable, and the Illini found that out for themselves on Sunday.

Hauter continued to play some of his best golf of the spring on Sunday, carding two early birdies on holes three and four to put himself at 2-under par for the round at the turn. After a birdie on the par-5 10th, Hauter bogeyed 11 and 12 and finished the round with a 1-under par 71 to tie for sixth place.

“Jonathan was a big key to the weekend,” Small said. “Being our low scorer coming out of that five position is pretty strong. He’s working hard and his attitude is good. With that combination, good things are going to happen. He keeps doing stuff like that, which we plan on him doing, it’s going to bode well for our team.”

Detry, Kim and Campbell also contributed to the Illini’s efforts on Sunday with rounds of 72, 70 and 72, respectively.

“It was a solid round of golf,” Small said. “We didn’t shoot a score over 75 all week, Illinois’ effort did not prove to be enough to hold the lead. Iowa, led by Steven Ihm’s 8-under par 64 on Sunday, overcame a 10-shot deficit on Sunday to win the tournament outright over the Illini by one stroke.

The Illini will now focus their attention on the Big Ten Championships on May 2 to  4 in French Lick, Ind.

“We won the Big Ten’s five years in row,” Detry said. “I’m confident and looking forward to making it six.”

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