Illinois men’s golf continues to thrive without team leaders


By Thomas Polcyn , Assistant sports editor

Over the last few years, the Illinois men’s golf team has been a juggernaut at the top of the college golf rankings. The team has won more than 10 tournaments and have been within the top-three ranked teams for almost that whole time period.

Sunday proved similar for the Illini when they earned their first team title of the season at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate. Junior Nick Hardy won his first title of the season as well, finishing 4-under par.

The Illini are attempting to continue that dominance this year, but in doing so, they will face some new challenges.

Following last season, the Illini lost Charlie Danielson and Thomas Pieters, two of the their most talented players. Danielson has gone on to play in four Tour events and two PGA Tour events, placing 22nd at the John Deere Classic. Pieters has moved on to the European Tour, where he has already picked up three wins this season. He also competed for his home country Belgium in the Rio Olympics, where he placed fourth.

Despite the big losses, the Illini remain loaded with big talent such as Hardy, Dylan Meyer and Edoardo Lipparelli.

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    Hardy is coming off his second season with the Illini. After winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year in his debut season, he followed it up last season by making the second All-Big Ten second team and making the All-Big Ten academic team as well. Following his campaign last season, Hardy qualified for and played in his second-career U.S. Open and also won  the Illinois Amateur Championship with a record-breaking 28-under. Hardy is expected to step up to be one of the leaders for the Illini this year and will have to do so if they want to continue succeeding.

    In addition to Hardy, Lipparelli and Meyer will also look to make big impacts on the team this year.

    The Italian native, Lipparelli, had a strong freshman season last year, playing in three tournaments and placing a scoring average of 73.87. With Danielson and Pieters gone, some playing time should open up, and he will be given a shot to prove he is one of the stronger players on the team.

    Finally, the other big name who is returning to the Illini roster is Dylan Meyer. After a strong sophomore season for the Illini, Meyer kept his momentum going into his summer season. Following the summer, Meyer is now the reigning champion of the Western Amateur, tied for fourth at the Sunnehanna Amateur tournament and was a medalist at the Tri-State Amateur.

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