Illini Win Regional, Advance to Sixth-Straight NCAA Finals
May 18, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Sixth-seeded Illinois fired a one-over-par 289, the best round of the day, to win the NCAA Fayetteville Regional by three strokes over host and second-seeded Arkansas at the par-72, 7,251-yard Blessings Golf Club on Saturday. It marks the first regional title in school history and extends the Illini's streak of consecutive appearances in the NCAA Championships to six straight seasons, making them one of six teams in the nation with a current streak at least that long along with USC, UCLA, Texas, Texas A&M and Florida.
Sophomore Brian Campbell and freshman Thomas Detry tied for second (-2) after Campbell fired a final-round 70 and Detry carded an even-par 72 on Saturday. Freshman Charlie Danielson tied for fifth (E) with a 73 and junior Thomas Pieters tied for 10th after notching a final-round 74 to finish the tournament at +2. Illinois was the only team to finish with four players in the top 10, as Arkansas and Oklahoma State each had two. The 54-hole total by Campbell was a career best, while Detry and Danielson each tied career-best 54-hole scores.
In addition to the Illini, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Kent State advance to the NCAA Championships. SMU's Mario Clemens took regional medalist honors at -3 and will advance to the NCAA Championships as the top individual not on a qualifying team.
"This is a big win to come down here and play against these top schools in their region," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "Winning the first regional title in school history is something we wanted to do. This was step two of our process and we're excited about going to the third. Our guys are really growing up as players and they're really embracing our culture and how we think the game should be played. To come in here and put up three low rounds is outstanding.
"Today was tough out there, but we played strong all the way through. Our four scorers played solid. Each time one of those guys had a bogey or a bad hole, they came right back with a good one, so that was fun to be a part of."
The Illini started from the first tee, as they did on Friday, and Campbell birdied No. 2 before bogeying the par-4 3rd hole. He notched another birdie on No. 7, bogeyed No. 8 and birdied the par-5 9th to make the turn at -1. The Californian played a flawless back nine with eight pars and a birdie on the par-5 12th for a two-under-par 70, giving him a tournament score of two-under-par 214, his best career round, topping the 217s he recorded at the Wolf Run Invitational, the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate and the Louisiana Classics.
Detry continued his consistent play, notching a birdie on No. 2 but bogeying No. 3. After five consecutive pars, he birdied No. 9 to also make the turn at -1. He bogeyed Nos. 12 and 14, but got a shot back on the par-3 17th to finish at even par on the day, -2 for the tournament, with the 214 marking his second-best score of the season behind only the 213 he posted at the Desert Shootout March 21-23.
Danielson was able to avoid the problem holes that plagued his round on Friday, carding three birdies and two bogeys on the front nine to also turn at -1. After four pars to start the back nine, he recorded bogeys on three of the next four holes, but notched a birdie on the par-4 18th to finish with a one-over-par 73 and a tournament score of even-par 216, which equaled his career-best tourney totals from Wolf Run and the Olympia Fields Country Club/Fighting Illini Invitational.
Pieters had a bit tougher of a round, bogeying No. 1 before getting a birdie on the par-5 4th. He double-bogeyed the par-3 8th but notched birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 to get back to even. But the reigning NCAA champion bogeyed Nos. 12, 14 and 15 along with a birdie at the par-4 13th. He finished at +2 on the day and +3 for the tournament. Sophomore Alex Burge played a solid front nine, making the turn at +2 but bogeys on Nos. 10, 11 and 13, along with a quadruple-bogey on the par-5 12th, turned his round upside down. He birdied No. 16 and bogeyed No. 18 for an 81 on the day and a tournament score of 246 (+30).
The Illini advance to the NCAA Championships at the Capital City Club, Crabapple Course, in Atlanta, Ga., May 28-June 2. Thirty teams will play 54 holes of stroke play, through which the individual NCAA champion will be crowned, May 28-30. The top eight teams in the stroke play will advance to a match-play bracket that will be contested May 31-June 2.