Illini men’s golf wins Fighting Illini Invitational


Junior Dylan Meyer swings during the final round at the Olympia Fields Country Club during the Fighting Illini Invitational in Olympia Fields, Illinois.

The Illinois men’s golf team did a lot of unconventional things this weekend.

For starters, it opened up its season by hosting a tournament with one of the toughest fields in the country; a thing that many top-tier teams won’t usually do.

Illinois also moved up the scoreboard following each round, going from tied for third after Friday, jumping to second overall after Saturday and leaving Olympia Fields as the champions on Sunday. The Illini won with an total-round 861, 11 shots better than second place Florida State. Other notable teams at the event were No. 1-ranked Alabama, No. 3 Stanford and

No. 4 Oklahoma State.

Head coach Mike Small’s squad also depended heavily on a true freshman in its very first competition of the season.

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That freshman, Dylan Meyer from Evansville, Ind., finished the tournament tied atop the leaderboard, posting a 3-over-par 213 for the weekend in his first collegiate tournament.

Meyer said the 18th hole really stuck out in his mind.

“It was a long hole, into the wind for me,” he said. “I hit two good shots, left it short of the green and I got up and down and it was just awesome.”

The freshman put the nation’s top teams on notice this weekend, but also had some help on Sunday from some of his already proven teammates. Brian Campbell, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, struggled on Friday and Saturday, but posted a tournament-low 66 on Sunday, which tied him for eighth on the weekend. Charlie Danielson also played a solid weekend, finishing 3rd, at 4-over.

The Illini were eight strokes behind Baylor heading into Sunday, but their opportunity to strike came when the Bears imploded on the final day. Baylor shot a 20-over on Sunday alone. Illinois took advantage and didn’t look back, going an overall 3-under on Sunday, sealing the 11-stroke victory. The Illini’s 3-under as a team on Sunday was the low round for a team on any of the three days.

Mental toughness was something Danielson said he and some of the other Illini were trying to work on during the offseason. They got the opportunity to show it early in the year with the comeback this weekend.

Small had also talked about the team’s chemistry and willingness to fight for each other throughout last season, which was already shown by this year’s team with the result this weekend.

“Individually, we’re going to use this as a building block for a successful season and we’re going to get better everyday, every week, as the year goes on and this is the start of that,” Small said.

In terms of depending on the freshman Meyer to win the prestigious opening season tournament, his fellow Illini weren’t too quick to be hard on him.

“They weren’t really hard on me, they were really excited and kind of proud,” Meyer said. “They all came up to me and encouraged the whole fact that it happened and that we won as a team.”

Brett can be reached at [email protected].