Zach Barlow leads the Big Ten Championship at -6 after 36 holes.
April 30, 2010
Independence, Minn. -
"Our depth is a huge asset for us and today was just another example of that," Illinois head coach Mike Small said of the opening day of the Big Ten Championships.
Illinois fired back-to-back three-under par 281 rounds to bolt to a 12-stroke lead through 36 of the 72-hole Big Ten Championship. Iowa ends day one in second place at +6 followed by Purdue (+9), Northwestern (+10) and Indiana (+11). Round three is Saturday with the fourth and final round slated for Sunday.
The Illini actually had some ups and downs throughout the first two rounds, but bounced back to finish strong. Senior Zach Barlow was the steadying force behind Illinois' day, posting rounds of 70 and 66 on the 7,346-yard par 71 Windsong Farm Course. The 66 was the best by Barlow this season and ties for the best round of his collegiate career.
Barlow took the early lead with birdies on two and three, but it was a long putt to save par on 18 of his first round and then another par save on the first hole of his second round that were the springboard for his second round as he proceeded to birdie the next three holes.
"Those two holes were really key to get me going," Barlow said. "We were a little chapped about the way we finished in the first round. We had it going well, but gave a couple back. Therefore, it was really important for me to get off to a good start to the second round."
Illinois has four players in the top 12 individually. Sophomore Luke Guthrie birdied the par 5 18th and sits in a tie for sixth at -1 after rounds of 71-70.
Scott Langley had the most adventurous day for the Illini. Langley chipped in for eagle on the 13th hole of round one, then did the same for birdie two holes later on the 15th. Those two holes pushed Langley to -5 for the tournament and briefly gave him the lead, but he played the final three holes at +4. His front nine of his second round included three birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys, but the junior closed with three birdies on the back nine to finish his day at even par, in a four way tie for eighth.
Junior Chris DeForest, who entered the tournament with three tournament titles in his final four regular season tournaments, had rounds of 70-73 and is one stroke behind Langley at +1, in a tie for 12th. Senior Matt Hoffman (74-74) is in a tie for 31st at +6.
Barlow's second round included six birdies and just one bogey as he surged ahead of Ohio State's Bo Hoag, who was early in the clubhouse at -4, and Iowa's Barrett Kelpin, who also finished the day at -4, in a tie for second, two strokes behind Barlow. Northwestern's David Lipsky and Purdue's Erich Johnston round out the top five at -3 and -2, respectively.
"My putting was amazing today, but really my iron play is what set up my round," Barlow said of his second-round surge. "I didn't have to think that much because of that."
The day saw sunshine in the morning and late afternoon with a steady shower much of the early afternoon.
"Zach played a great second round, but as a team we closed well," Small said. "That's something we talk about it. We saw all four seasons today, but we pride ourselves on not making a big deal about it and embracing it."
On the prospect of being in position for his team winning back-to-back Big Ten titles, Small added, "It's just halftime. A lot can happen in the second half so we just need to keep going and not look back."
"The individual accolades are nice, but we came to win as a team and that's what we're determined to do."