Illini, Pieters Extend Lead at Big Ten Championships
April 27, 2013
FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Illinois got one step closer to its fifth-straight Big Ten men's golf championship Saturday, extending its lead over Minnesota to seven strokes with 18 holes remaining by shooting a three-under-par 285 at the Pete Dye Course Saturday. Junior Thomas Pieters fired his third-straight 70 on the weekend, increasing his individual lead to seven strokes at -6. Sophomore Brian Campbell carded his second-straight 70 of the tournament to jump into a tie for second place at +1 and freshman Thomas Detry was the third Illini to record a 70 on the day, moving into a tie for ninth at +5. The lead groups tee off at 7 a.m. CT Sunday, while the Illini will get started at 8:20 on the No. 1 tee alongside the Gophers for the second-straight day as the tournament's top two teams.
Pieters is the only individual with a 54-hole score under par, as he stands seven shots ahead of Campbell (217, +1) and Minnesota's Erik Van Rooyen. Campbell's 54-hole score of 217 ties his career best. Also for the Illini, freshman Charlie Danielson is in 19th (+8) after notching a 75 and sophomore Alex Burge is tied for 29th at +11 following a 75 on Saturday.
"I felt great about today's round," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "You have three guys shoot 70 on this golf course with this wind, that's a very promising day. And Charlie (Danielson) and Alex (Burge) played solid. We threw out a three-over-par, that's what we're talking about. That's a total team effort. Those guys were playing hard and I'm proud of them.
"I told the guys after the round that from the perspective of someone who played, not just a coach's perspective, that was impressive today. They played well. The focus they had, the crisp shots they were hitting, they let some bad stuff roll off their back. It was good to see. And more importantly than extending the lead, we took care of what we could do. That's what we've learned over the years, you can only control what you can control. We went out and had a good look to it and took care of business."
Illinois posted a three-round score of 870, six shots over par. The Gophers are in second at 877, while Indiana and Iowa are tied for third at 890 (+26). The Illini were the only team to shoot under par on Saturday, with Minnesota's 290 the next-best score of the third round thanks to difficult pin placements and a steady breeze on the hilly course.
The Illini started well Saturday, with Campbell and Thomas Detry both carding birdies on No. 2. Pieters' only blemish on the front nine was a bogey on No. 4, while Danielson played steady, even-par golf on the front. Campbell added a birdie on No. 6 and Detry birdied No. 7 as both made the turn at -2.
Alex Burge battled back from a bogey-double bogey pair on Nos. 2 and 3 with birdies on Nos. 4, 6 and 9 to get back to even at the turn. Pieters birdied No. 10 to get back to even, and Campbell birdied No. 11 to move to -3.
Burge bogeyed Nos. 10 and 12, Detry bogeyed 11 and Danielson bogeyed 12. But the youthful Illini were able to reverse their fortune on the back nine, as Danielson nailed a birdie putt on No. 13 and Detry found pars on his next three holes before notching a birdie on No. 15 to get to -2.
Campbell bogeyed No. 13 but carded consecutive birdies on Nos. 14 and 15, pushing him to -4, and Pieters birdied 13 and 15 to drop to -2. Things evened out a bit in the final few holes, but Detry and Pieters both notched birdies on No. 18 to seal the seven-stroke advantage over the Gophers.