NCAA Golf News

Illini In Contention After Round 1 at NCAA Championship

Illini In Contention After Round 1 at NCAA Championship

CARLSBAD, Calif – The No. 11-seeded Fighting Illini men’s golf team is tied for fifth in the 30-team field after opening the NCAA Championship on Friday afternoon with a 5-over 293 at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s North Course.

With birdies at a premium on the newly renovated course, the Illini came out strong and were steady through the middle of the round before a tough stretch on the back nine. But a a combined 2-under finish on No. 18 – with birdies from senior Piercen Hunt and freshman Max Herendeen – helped the Orange and Blue remain in the hunt, just three shots behind co-leaders Virginia and Arizona.  

“It’s our first time playing this golf course,” head coach Mike Small said. “The conditions got a little tough there at the end – the wind picked up, and it got colder. The hardest holes on this golf course are that back nine, so everything was stacked up against us as we tried to finish, and I think maybe a little fatigue set in.  But we had a couple birdies on that last hole, which was huge.”

“There are a lot of positive to take away, but we also got loose in some areas, so we have to talk about those and put those behind us. We’ve got to be ready to go tomorrow morning because we’re going to see the back nine first, again tomorrow when it’s chilly. We can’t come out flat.”  

Three Illini – Hunt, Herendeen and fifth-year senior Tyler Goecke – each carded rounds of 73 (+1) to sit inside the top 25, while sophomore Ryan Voois rounded out the scoring with a 74 (+2) to grab a tie for 41st.

Hunt carded par on 15 holes, including 12 straight to open his round. Bogeys on 13 and 17 moved him to 2-over before dropping his birdie putt on 18. Herendeen’s birdie on 18 was part of a 1-under finish after the turn for the freshman. He started 2-over on the front nine before tallying his first birdie of the day on No. 11. Despite the tough conditions late in the round, his bogey on 17 was his only blip after making the turn.

Goecke and Voois tied for the team-lead with three birdies on the day. Goeke’s all came on the front nine. He opened with red numbers on Holes 1 and 3 to offset bogeys on 2 and 5. His final birdie of the day on…


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