Illini Cruise to Big Ten Match Play Title
Feb. 9, 2013
BRADENTON, Fla. - Top-seeded Illinois rolled through the Big Ten Match Play Championships, sweeping fifth-seeded Ohio State 5-0-0 in the semifinals and running away from seventh-seeded Michigan State by the same 5-0-0 score in the championship match at The Concession Golf Club, a par-72, 7,177-yard course, on Saturday. It marks the Illini's first title at the Big Ten Match Play event, which is in its fifth year. Illinois' previous best finish at the tournament was fourth in both 2009 and 2011.
The Illini went 14-0-1 in three matches at the event and 12 of Illinois' 15 individual matches were finished prior to the 18th hole. In the championship match against Michigan State, all five Illinois players won their matches before the 17th hole.
"It's unheard of to win 14 1/2 out of 15 possible points," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "It was just a total team effort. We were sharp and it was fun to see. We were in control the whole tournament. It's great to show that we're getting better in the offseason but at the same time, this is just the beginning of the season.
"There's a long way to go, but this is a good way to start the spring. Any time you win, it's a good feeling. Winning is contagious, but at the same time there are things we need to improve on and stroke play is a whole different animal."
In the morning match, freshmen Thomas Detry and David Kim each won their matches 4 and 3, while senior Mason Jacobs took his by a 3 and 1 score. Junior Thomas Pieters and freshman Charlie Danielson each won their matches 1 up.
Detry went on a run in the middle of his match, winning holes on Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to build a 4-up lead over OSU's Tee-K Kelly. Kelly got one back on No. 11, but Detry won Nos. 12 and 13. Kelly won No. 14 to pull within 4-up, but Detry took the victory by halving No. 15. Kim caught fire on the back nine against Michael Bernard, winning four straight holes from No. 10 to No. 13 to turn the match from a one-hole advantage for Bernard to a 3-up lead for Kim. After the pair halved No. 14, Kim parred No. 15 while Bernard bogied it to give the Illini rookie the 4 and 3 win.
At the No. 5 position, senior Mason Jacobs put together a rally from two holes down after 10 to win 3 and 1 after hole victories on Nos. 12, 14, 16 and 17 against Ohio State junior Matt Turner. Freshman Charlie Danielson held off a furious comeback by OSU sophomore Grant Weaver to win 1-up after leading 4-up with four holes to go. And Pieters won his match at No. 1 after OSU sophomore Boo Timko was 1-up with five to go, as Pieters won on Nos. 14 and 15 before halving the final three holes.
In the afternoon match against Michigan State, all five Illini won their matches without needing to play the 17th hole, with Pieters claiming an 8 and 7 victory, Danielson winning 6 and 5, Detry taking a 4 and 3 win, and Kim and sophomore Brian Campbell each winning 3 and 2.
Pieters caught fire early against Spartan senior Matthew Moseley, winning on Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 to go 4-up through five holes. He added victories on Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 10, then halved No. 11 to make short work of Moseley. Danielson didn't need much more time against MSU freshman Mitch Rutledge, winning Nos. 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 to go 5-up. Rutledge got one back on No. 11, but Danielson won Nos. 12 and 13 to finish the 6 and 5 triumph.
At the No. 3 match, Detry faced Spartan senior Dan Ellis and managed only a 1-up lead through eight holes. But he won No. 9 for a two-hole lead at the turn and added a victory on No. 12. Ellis won No. 13 to cut the margin to two holes, but Detry shot par on Nos. 14 and 15 as Ellis bogied both holes to give the Belgian the 4 and 3 victory.
Campbell won his first three holes and four of the first five against MSU junior Carson Castellani for a quick 4-up lead. He built the lead to 6-up with wins on Nos. 7, 8 and 9, then held on for the 3 and 2 victory. Kim won the first two holes against Spartan senior Dave Ellis and added another victory on No. 7 to go 3-up. Ellis won the next two holes, though, cutting the margin to one. But Kim battled back with wins on Nos. 10, 12 and 14 for a four-hole advantage with four left. Ellis took the win on No. 15 to keep the match alive, but the pair halved No. 16, giving Kim the 3 and 2 victory.
After grabbing its first Big Ten Match Play championship in sweeping fashion, Illinois opens the stroke-play portion of its schedule next Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 18-19, at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate in Mobile, Ala.
Semifinals: Illinois 5, Ohio State 0
Championship: Illinois 5, Michigan State 0