NCAA Golf News

Illini Season Ends in NCAA Quarterfinal Match

Illini Season Ends in NCAA Quarterfinal Match

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The Fighting Illini men’s golf team concluded its chase for the national title on Tuesday, falling in a hard-fought battle with Georgia Tech, 3-1, in the quarterfinal round of the 2024 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s North Course.

Illinois entered the week as the No. 11 seed and ran away from the field by a 16-stroke margin to earn the top seed in the match play bracket after 72 holes of stroke play. But despite a hot start to take an early advantage vs. the Georgia Tech, the Illini were unable to hold off the Yellow Jackets’ comeback effort.

Despite the loss, the quarterfinal berth secures a fifth-place tie for the Orange and Blue in the final NCAA Championship standings, the program’s ninth top-five national finish under head coach Mike Small since the current format was adopted in 2009 – a mark that is tied for first nationally with Oklahoma State.

“For whatever reason we lost our way and started guiding it and started worrying about things,” head coach Mike Small said. “I think a lot of our guys fell back on some of the tendencies that they were getting better at all spring, and I think under the pressure and tension they reverted back to some of that stuff.

“We were in control of the match halfway through, and the back nine is one we took care of all week, so maybe the pressure go to them and maybe they got ahead of themselves and were thinking of the outcome for whatever reason.”

Freshman Max Herendeen, who battled to a runner-up finish by one shot in stroke play, continued his strong week and secured the first point of the match with a 5&4 victory over GT’s Carson Kim. Herendeen trailed by 1 after two holes but broke open a tie with a win on No. 6 and never looked back. Wins on Nos. 8, 11, 13 and 14 put the match out of reach to give the Illini an early edge.

But that would prove to be the only match the Illini would claim. Junior Jackson Buchanan led by five with seven holes to play but dropped four of six holes between 12 and 17. Buchanan’s match ultimately went unfinished however, as GT picked up wins over fifth-year senior Tyler Goecke (3&1), senior Piercen Hunt (3&2), and sophomore Ryan Voois (3&2) to advance to the semifinals.

“I thought the…


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