Redbirds matchup opens spring season for Illini golf

By Drake Pena

Coming off a near-perfect fall season that included finishing atop multiple national rankings, the Illini men’s golf team is poised for a championship run.

The currently No. 2-ranked Illini will open the spring season against in-state rival Illinois State in the Tinervin Cup on Saturday in Placida, Florida.

The lineup features senior Brian Campbell and juniors Thomas Detry and Charlie Danielson, all of whom rank in Golfweek’s top 25. A national championship would be the program’s first. The spring season is a long one, and with most matches beginning in February, head coach Mike Small said he thinks that Illinois State is a good matchup for an Illini team looking to shake off the rust. 

“It’s a way for us to gauge where we are at physically and mentally,” Small said. “We want to go down this week and get some reps in, play a competitive team and see where we are at so we can come back down and get some work in.”

The Tinervin family, which supports both Illinois and Illinois State golf programs, founded the match play event in 2004 as a way to showcase the two schools for an event during the early part of the spring schedule. The format features three two-on-two better-ball matches in the morning and six singles matches in the afternoon.

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Illinois looks to continue its 11-year winning streak against the Redbirds and bring home the Tinervin Cup. After the cup the Illini will play in the Big Ten Match Play Championship on Feb. 15. Illinois is the first Big Ten team to play golf in the new year and the only one to play an official match before Big Ten play opens.

Drake can be reached at [email protected].