Illinois men’s golf looks to claim sixth straight Big Ten title

By Dan Bernstein

Anyone who has played competitive golf knows how hard it is to win a golf tournament. It requires an incredible amount of mental strength, focus, strategy and outright talent.

The No. 8 Illinois men’s golf team knows what it’s like to win golf tournaments, especially Big Ten titles. They have won the past five Big Ten Championships and look to make it six this weekend at the 7,254 yard, par-72 Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Indiana.

“We need to be who we are and not try to press too hard,” head coach Mike Small said. “We can’t try to protect anything. We just need to go out and play our game and take care of our business.”

The Pete Dye Course at French Lick was named the No. 1 Public Golf Course in Indiana by GolfWeek in 2013. The course is located on one of Indiana’s most elevated points, which makes for an unforgettable golf spectacle.

The rugged terrain, narrow fairways, elevation changes and well-protected fast greens are just a few of the reasons why the Illini will have to be on top of their game in order to claim their sixth title in as many years.

“Golf is a funny thing. It’s a week-to-week deal,” Small said. “I think we’re peaking at the right time.”

The Illini are the highest ranked team in the field this weekend, but will likely be challenged by ranked Big Ten rivals No. 36 Iowa, No. 44 Northwestern and No. 49 Purdue. While the Illini did not shoot a score below 70 at the Purdue Invitational a couple weeks ago, they are confident that their knowledge of the course from past experiences will help them put some low scores together.

“I’m confident because I know we won last year, and I still can visualize every single shot from last year at that course,” sophomore Thomas Detry said. “I know a lot of Big Ten teams are playing well right now, but I know that we will take ownership of our own game and will play well enough to win.”

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