No. 2 Illinois look to continue success at Big Ten Championships

By Drake Pena

The 2015 season for the Illinois men’s golf team is coming to a close. The season has brought with it six regular-season tournaments — the most the team has competed in since 2008-2009 — nine Big Ten Golfer of the Week awards — the most of any team in the Big Ten.

Head coach Mike Small believes this may be the best team ever assembled in the Big Ten.

“I know some coaches last week at Purdue were talking, (saying) if (we) finish it off, we could be the best Big Ten team of all-time,” Small said. “The team knows there’s an opportunity to do some special things, but in order to do that we have to be ourselves.”

The Illini will get a chance to showcase their talents at the Big Ten Championships in Newburgh, Indiana from Friday to Sunday.

Illinois posted good results the last time it was faced with heavy Big Ten competition,

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    The Illini took part in the Big Ten Match Play Championship on Feb. 15-16. Although the format was different, Illinois showed early on that it could handle Big Ten competition, winning the championship for the second time in three years.

    The team has finished either first or second in its last two tournaments. Small said he accepts the team to carry the momentum at the Big Ten Championships.

    “We’re just hitting our stride,” Small said. “It’s just becoming golf season in Illinois. That’s what is weird about it.”

    Coming off a successful regular season, expectations are high for the team this weekend.

    “(It’s) the first time a Northern program has ever been voted No. 1 by the coaches,” Small said. “When you bring three All-Americans back, they are dealing with expectations. Then you add two talented freshmen, there is some stress involved. It’s been a fun yet high-maintenance year.”

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