NCAA Golf News

Illini Take 54-hole Lead at NCAA Championship

Illini Take 54-hole Lead at NCAA Championship

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The No. 11-seeded Fighting Illini men’s golf team is moving on to Round 4 of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at the top of the team leaderboard. The Orange and Blue closed out Round 3 with the lowest team round of the weekend – a 6-under 282 – overtaking Virginia as the field was pared down to the top 15 teams, and nine individuals, for Monday’s stroke play finale on the North Course at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.

“I think every team gets a little better and learns the golf course; every round you play you continue to learn about this place,” head coach Mike Small said. “We just played good golf today, we started off with nothing spectacular but solid. I don’t think the par-fives were as good as we would have liked them to be, but the par-threes were solid. We were 6-under the back nine, and I think we played No. 10 over-par, which was pretty good. The wind came up the back nine, there was no wind on the front nine. We met it head on and played solid golf.”

Illinois shot 5-over in Round 1 on Friday, improved by six strokes for a 1-under 287 on Saturday, and used their impressive finish on the back nine Sunday to erase seventh-seeded Virginia’s three-shot advantage. And with another cut to the top-eight teams on the horizon prior to the start of match play on Tuesday, the Illini’s performance has all but solidified their standing, 23 shots ahead of a tie for ninth place between 10th-seeded Arizona and No. 13 seed Georgia Tech.

Two Illini sit inside the top 10 of the individual title race that will be determined Monday. Freshman Max Herendeen, in a tie for fourth at 214 (-2) and fifth-year senior Tyler Goecke, in a tie for seventh at 215 (-1) are in the hunt for what would be the program’s third NCAA individual championship under Small. Ohio State’s Adam Wallin is alone in first at 211 (-5) after 54 holes.

Since the 2000-01 season, Small’s first at the helm of the Illini program, Illinois (Scott Langley, 2010; Thomas Pieters, 2012), Oklahoma State (Jonathan Moore, 2006; Matthew Wolff, 2019), and Florida (Nick Gilliam, 2001; Fred Biondi, 2003) are the only programs to have produced multiple individual NCAA champions.

Goecke and…


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