Illini place sixth in final Big Ten tune-up
April 20, 2008
West Lafayette, Ind. -
Heading into the final nine holes of the event, Illinois was in line for perhaps a top-three finish at the competitive Boilermaker Invitational. The Illini entered the day tied for third but fell into a tie for sixth in the 14-team field, but just seven strokes out of second place.
"It was a good experience for our guys to be in the final group of a major regional event," said Illinois head coach Mike Small. "We learned a lot about ourselves and had some top teams on the ropes. This is another step in the progression of our program."
The final tune-up before the Big Ten Championship proved just how wide-open next week's conference championship could be. Michigan State, who entered the tournament ranked 21st nationally, placed second at 11-under par 853 while host Purdue tied with 20th-rated Indiana for third at 854. Illinois tied with Eastern Michigan for sixth at four-under par 860, just two strokes in back of fourth-ranked Charlotte at 858. Kent State won the title by some 11 strokes at 22-under par 842.
The Illini finished in front of three Big Ten schools - Wisconsin (861), Iowa (862), and Northwestern (872). Earlier in the month, Illinois had edged out Penn State and Ohio State to claim the Marshall Invitational.
"It's anybody's race," Small said of approaching Big Ten Championship. "There are about nine teams that could win this thing, so it will be a fun weekend."
Individually, Indiana's Jorge Campillo ran away with the field, firing a 15-under par 201 for the 7,079-yard par 72 Kampen Course, which will host next month's NCAA Championship. Kent State's John Hahn, who fired a final round 67, finished second at 18-under 205.
After shooting 282 and 287 in the first two rounds Saturday, the Illini struggled to a 291 on Sunday. Freshman Chris DeForest had the best round of the day at two-under par 70, and finished in a tie for 24th with fellow freshman teammate Scott Langley (67-72-78) at one-over par 217. Zach Barlow (72-69-75) was Illinois' top individual finisher in the tournament at two-under par 216, good for a tie for 17th, after shooting a 75 Sunday. Junior Larry Blatt moved up nine spots from Saturday after shooting a 71 to finish in a tie for 46th with sophomore teammate Matt Hoffman (73-73-75).
Michigan State hosts the conference championships April 25-27.