No. 3 ranked Illinois concludes strong weekend with second-place finish.

By Drake Pena

The Illinois men’s golf team shot a combined 841 (-23) to cap off a successful showing at the 3M Augusta Invitational in Augusta, Georgia, finishing second in a field of 15 Sunday. In a group that included No. 2 Texas, and No. 25 New Mexico, Illinois showed why it’s considered among the elite teams in collegiate golf.

Head coach Mike Small believes his team’s impressive performance is a sign of good things to come.

“Overall our team made some good moves in the right direction this weekend,” Small said. “It was disappointing we finished second — hats off to New Mexico — but I think our guys played consistent golf and improved at this tournament. Our guys did not post a single score over 74 so that’s something positive to take away from this weekend as well.”

Senior Brian Campbell was one of the main contributors to the Illini’s strong weekend. He shot a 65 in his second round, posting the lowest individual single-round score of the entire tournament. That score also led him to finish third in individual scoring. Georgia’s Lee McCoy (200, -16), and Texas’ Scottie Scheffler (204, -12) finished in front of Campbell (205, -11).

Campbell was not the only Illini to have a successful weekend. Juniors Thomas Detry and Charlie Danielson finished among the top 15 in individual scoring with scores of 208 (-8), and 212 (-4), respectively.

After Saturday’s initial two rounds of action, New Mexico held a one-stroke lead over the Illini. Host GRU Augusta finished the day in third place, followed by Virginia Tech, Texas and Georgia, who tied for fifth to round out the top five.

At the end of Sunday, Illinois shot a combined 280 to finish the tournament in second place. As a team, the Illini shot 23-under-par, trailing only No. 25 New Mexico on the team leaderboard. The play was just as close as the score would suggest. Heading into the back nine, Illinois shared first place with New Mexico and Georgia at 18-under-par.

Besides the competitive play, Small expressed the trip offers the team other fun opportunities.

“This trip to Augusta is a fun event for us,“ Small said. “It’s not only a big collegiate event with some top teams in it playing a good collegiate golf course at Augusta state, but we also get to attend the Masters on Monday as part of the event. “

While the Illini had a strong performance, it may not be enough to put them back at the top of the collegiate rankings. No. 2 Texas finished in fourth place behind New Mexico, Illinois, and Georgia, respectively and No. 1 Florida State did not play over the weekend. With a good performance by Texas, Illinois might have to wait another few weeks if they wish to regain its number one ranking it held at the start of the spring season.

The Illini have two weeks off before competing at the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette, Indiana, on April 18-19. The Boilermaker Invitational is the Illini’s final spring tournament before the Big Ten Championships on April 24.

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