Stricker Classic Reception at Olympia Fields

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Gala-Reception_8188.jpgThe 10th Annual Steve Stricker Illini Golf Classic kicked off the festivities with the Welcoming Gala Reception and Auction on Sunday night at the Olympia Fields Country Club. The event included a live and silent auction benefitting the Illinois men's golf program and four special guests highlighted the evening: PGA professional and Illini alum Steve Stricker, head coach Mike Small, new Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas and ESPN color commentator and former Flyin' Illini member Stephen Bardo, who served as the emcee. Be sure to check out the full PHOTO GALLERY from the event.

To begin the night, Bardo welcomed Thomas to the stage to a big applause from the crowd. The new AD, who will begin his tenure at Illinois a week from Monday on Aug. 29, talked about the recent success of the Illini program (the team's three Big Ten trophies were on display) and his high aspirations for the squad's future. He also joked about needing to get some pointers on his swing from coach Small once he gets to campus.

Small-Stricker_8249.jpgCoach Small then addressed the crowd and thanked all the program's loyal supporters before introducing Stricker on stage. Small rattled off Stricker's numerous accolades from his time at Illinois and recapped his recent success on the PGA Tour. Stricker, who is the No. 3 ranked player in the World, tied a major championship record with a 63 on the first day of the PGA Championships and tied for 12th overall. He also won his third straight John Deere Classic in thrilling fashion.

Once Stricker took to the podium, he made sure to mention how Small was honored as the top club pro at the PGA Championships for the second time in his career. Stricker then talked about his time at Illinois and on the PGA tour and answered some questions from the crowd. When asked about how he hit this bunker shot to set-up his John Deere Classic victory, he joked he just closed his eyes and swung. After Stricker finished on stage, the live auction closed out the night, where the top item (9 Holes with Steve Stricker) went for $18,000.

The golf portion of the event takes place on Monday at the Olympia Fields Country Club, which is where the current Illini squad will host its fall tournament in a few weeks. Take a look at the Illini's fall schedule now up online to get ready for the season.

The Illinois men's golf program would like to give special thanks to all of its sponsors and the management and staff of Olympia Fields Country Club, who made the event a success:

Presenting Sponsors

First Federal Savings Bank of Champaign-Urbana

GTPS Insurance Agency

Corporate Sponsors

First Site, Ltd.
Jeff Tinervin

Miller Coors
Allen Everette

Northwestern Mutual McClure Financial Group
Brian McClure & Justin Kirby

Orange and Blue Distributing
Allen Everette

R & S RV Sales and Service
Gary Robinson

Workhorse A Navistar Company
Dan Cutter

Event and Hole Sponsors

Art Wyatt

A&R Mechanical
Neil Asklund

Augie Tonne and Illini Evans Scholars

Beniach Construction Co.
Joe Beniach

Bill Rueling

The Chicago Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
William Lenz

Central Illinois Arby's
Jerry Myerscough

Cozad Asset Management, Inc.
Greg Cozad

Dave, Brook, Andy and Parker Keeling

Dick and Maggie Martin

Jack and Mark Everette

Kaufmann Sports Management
Tom Kaufmann

Martin, Hood, Friese and Associates, LLC
Kim Martin

Meier Oil Service
Mike Meier

Meyer Capel Law Firm
Jerry Jahn

R&S RV Sales and Service
Gary Robinson

Sentient Jet
Shawn Colgan

Shiner Capital Partners
Bill Shiner

Signature Homes
Bill Peifer

Super Pantry
Jon Stewart

Wadsworth Golf Construction Company
Brent Wadsworth

Wampler Property Management, LLC
Jeff Wampler

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