Illinois men’s golf headlines Sagamore Fall Preview

By Lauren Mroz

The Illinois men’s golf team enters the home stretch of its fall season Monday at the two-day Sagamore Fall Preview. Hosted by Ball State, the 54-hole tournament will take place on a Jack Nicklaus-designed, par-72 course at The Sagamore Club in Noblesville, Ind.

The top-ranked Illini headline a 14-team field, consisting of five of the nation’s top-50 teams, including No. 8 Auburn.

After a three-week break, the Illini return to competition with the same lineup that captured first place at the Wolf Run Invitational on Sept. 20-21. The lineup includes senior Brian Campbell, juniors Charlie Danielson and Thomas Detry, and freshmen Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer.

“I think the guys are chomping at the bit to get out and play (in a tournament),” head coach Mike Small said in a news release. “The best way we can compete against this field is to go play the golf course and go play our game, and to go play solid golf.”

The Illini look to pick up where they left off after winning the first two tournaments of their fall schedule, which led to the team’s first No. 1 ranking in school history from the Golf Coaches Association of America.

Although they strive to keep the No. 1 ranking after this stretch, the Illini are only concerned with being the best at the end of the season.

“It’s not really important now,” Danielson said of the top ranking. “It’s more important to go win these two events we have left and show the whole country that we come to play. The ranking will take care of itself.”

According to Small, it was important to play the Sagamore Fall Preview because it will give the players an early look at the course, which will host a 2015 NCAA Regional.

“You never know how that will turn out,” Small said. “But you have a one-in-six shot of going there. Plus, it’s close to home and it’s a good golf course that’s penal in a lot of areas. It’s got a lot of water and some tricky holes. It’s going to be good for us to see that.”

Play begins with 36 holes at a 9 a.m. shotgun start Monday, followed by a final 18-hole round Tuesday.

Lauren can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @MrozLauren.