Illinois men’s golf headed to Boilermaker Invitational

By Drake Pena

As the spring season dwindles down, the competition at the top of the men’s collegiate golf national leaderboard couldn’t be more fierce.

The Illinois men’s golf team rank No. 3 behind No. 1 Florida State and the No. 2 Texas — home of 2015 Masters winner Jordan Spieth. Illinois, Florida State, and Texas have all been in first at some point in the season.

This coming weekend will give Illinois another shot to regain the No. 1 spot.

The Illini’s next tilt will take place in West Lafayette, Indiana, — home of Big Ten rival Purdue — for the 12th installment of the Boilermaker Invitational on April 18-19. Play will take place on the Kampen Course of the Brick Boilermaker Golf Complex, which, in addition to being named one of the 10 best college course in America, has hosted the 2008 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship and the 2011 Big Ten Championship.

Illinois is familiar with many of the ins and outs of the course.

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    “Purdue is a long, moderate type of golf course,” said head coach Mike Small. “The greens are big, and the pins could be tough. There are also some holes that can catch up and grab you where you can make a bigger number on.”

    The tournament has a field of 15 competitive teams, including conference rivals Purdue, Ohio State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Indiana.

    The last time Illinois faced this many conference opponents, it was at the Big Ten Match Play Championship. There, Illinois defeated Maryland, Michigan, and Purdue.

    Illinois also has a pretty good history at the Boilermaker Invitational. The team finished the event in third place in 2013 with a score of 880 (+16). In 2014, the Illini finished second with a score of 866 (+2). In both years, one team in particular has given Illinois a tough challenge: the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes have finished first for two consecutive seasons, besting Illinois by a combined three strokes in both events.

    This year, however, Iowa is coming in ranked No. 46 in the nation.

    Even with a win in this event Illinois’ chances at moving up to No. 1 in the rankings are slim. No. 1 Florida State is coming of a fourth-straight tournament win which sets a school record. No. 2 Texas also won its last tournament, making that four wins in its last five.

    This is the last tournament before the April 25-26 Big Ten Championships.

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