Illini golf win NCAA regional


Illini junior Brian Campbell took home individual honors in the 54-hole tournament. The Illini won the NCAA regional Saturday, securing their spot in the NCAA Championships.

By Johnathan Hettinger

The Illinois men’s golf team is back where it’s supposed to be.

Two weeks after finishing second in the Big Ten Championship, breaking a five-year winning streak, the Illini won their NCAA regional on Saturday, guaranteeing a spot in the NCAA Championships for the seventh straight year. The Sugar Grove, Illinois, regional was hosted by Northern Illinois.

Junior Brian Campbell, the Big Ten Player of the Year, took home individual honors in the 54-hole tournament, finishing five-under-par and winning by four strokes.

“(Campbell) had a big lead midway through the round, but he persevered better than anybody all week,” head coach Mike Small said in a press release. “He had some tough stretches but fought back from it. Regional champ is big medal to have.”

The second-seeded Illini (16-over) won the tournament by two strokes over UAB (18-over), Illinois was in second by one stroke heading into the last day. The top five teams at the regional advanced to the 30-team NCAA Championships in Hutchinson, Kansas, starting Friday. The other four teams that qualified were UAB, Purdue (30-over), California (32-over) and USC (32-over). Illinois is one of five schools to make seven straight NCAA Championships. The others are Texas A&M, Texas, UCLA and USC.

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“Seven in a row is pretty cool,” Small said. “That speaks volumes for these kids year after year.”

After Campbell, sophomore Thomas Detry tied for 11th, sophomore Charlie Danielson, the Big Ten Champion, tied for 15th, senior Jonathan Hauter tied for 25th and junior Alex Burge tied for 53rd. Illinois has the same roster as last season minus 2012 NCAA Champion Thomas Pieters.

Illinois won the regional one year after winning its first regional in school history. Last season, Illinois finished fifth at the NCAA Championships stroke play, advancing to the eight-team match play tournament.

During the match play portion, Illinois defeated defending NCAA Champion Texas and No. 1 California before losing to Alabama in the championship match. This year’s Illinois squad is ranked higher than last year’s.

Johnathan can be reached at [email protected] and @jhett93.