Illini Advance to NCAA Match Play for Third Time in 4 Years
May 26, 2014
HUTCHINSON, Kan. - Illinois tied for seventh to qualify for the eight-team match-play finals at the NCAA Championships, as junior Brian Campbell tied the course record under the current configuration with a 7-under-par 63 at the par-70, 6,941-yard Prairie Dunes Country Club. Campbell finished tied for ninth to earn All-America status - jumping 66 spots on the individual leaderboard, the day's biggest leap - while sophomore Charlie Danielson posted his third-straight round of 70 to finish tied for 29th.
The Illini will face Stanford in Tuesday's quarterfinal match at 7:50 a.m. The Cardinal finished first in the 54-hole stroke-play portion with a 13-under-par total, nine shots better than second-place Alabama and LSU. Illinois tied for seventh with SMU but earned the No. 8 seed by virtue of having a worse total of the dropped scores from the three rounds.
The Orange and Blue will make their third appearance in the match-play portion of the NCAA Championships in the last four seasons, also advancing in 2013 and 2011. It makes Illinois one of four teams to do so, along with Alabama, Georgia Tech and UCLA. No team has reached match play in each of the last four seasons. The Illini are 2-2 all-time in NCAA match play, going 2-1 in 2013 and 0-1 in 2011. Illinois defeated fourth-seeded Texas and top-seeded California last season before falling to third-seeded Alabama in the championship match.
"It was a strong performance by our team and this is what we prepare for and what we like to see them do," Illini head coach Mike Small said. "Everybody's got to show up to play and bring it when it's on the line. You have Campbell shoot 63, which speaks for itself and I'm so proud of what he did. But then you've got guys like Jonathan Hauter who tripled his fourth hole and held it in there to shoot 3-over. Thomas had a rough stretch there in the middle but kept it together and played 4-over and then you have steady Charlie Danielson. It's everything we expect to do and we did it.
"Our guys believe in what we're doing and they believe in themselves. That's what I'm so proud about. They aren't intimidated by this situation. To come here and shoot a round like they did with the wind going and everything going on around them, and to attend to your business makes me proud as a coach."
The Illini rallied late in the round, playing their final four holes 5-under-par with three birdies and an eagle. They hit the clubhouse at +5 overall then had to watch as the final group of UCLA, South Carolina and Oklahoma followed. The Bruins made a number of clutch putts late in the round to jump to sixth place, but the Gamecocks stumbled a bit, as their four players with counting scores played the final four holes at even par, which included double-bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9. That dropped South Carolina behind the Illini into ninth place, giving Illinois the berth into the match-play quarterfinals.
Campbell's 63 was the best score by an Illini during the spring season and tied the school record, which Chris DeForest established with a 63 at the 2007 D.A. Weibring Invitational. Campbell now has three of the nine lowest rounds in school history after shooting 64 twice this season.
Campbell started his round fairly unremarkably, birdying his first - the par-3 10th, parring No. 11 and bogeying the 12th. But he made four straight pars before rattling off four birdies in a row from No. 17 to No. 2. Three pars later, he birdied the par-4 6th then stuff his approach on No. 7 to 10 feet and rolled it in for eagle. He came in with two more pars for a rare 63, 7-under-par.
Also for the Illini, Danielson continued his solid play by posting an even-par 70 to finish at even par for the tournament and tied for 29th, his second top-30 individual NCAA finish in his young career. He bogeyed No. 10 but got it back with a birdie at No. 12. From there, he kept knocking holes off the scorecard with 10 consecutive pars. He bogeyed the par-4 5th but a birdie at No. 7 - which the Illini combined to play 5-under-par - put him at even par for the day and the tournament.
Detry had a much rougher first nine holes, bogeying the 10th but birdying No. 12 to get back to even. But he stumbled toward the midpoint of his round, going bogey-double bogey-bogey at holes 15-17 to fall to +4. But he recovered to make 10 consecutive pars, nearly birdying a number of holes, to finish with a 74 and tying for 69th at 5-over-par overall.
Hauter had a solid round after some early trouble. At even through two holes, Hauter bogeyed the 12th and tripled the par-4 13th. But he righted the ship with four pars before rolling in a birdie at No. 18. A bogey at No. 2 - his 11th hole - dropped him back to +4, but he played solidly from there, making six pars and a birdie at the 7th. After a par on No. 8, Hauter hacked it out of the deep rough and rolled in a nifty 15-foot putt to save par at No. 9, a clutch late putt to keep the Illini in contention.
Burge put together a solid round but ended up being disqualified after misunderstanding the unplayable ball rule. But his score would have been Illinois' drop score even if it had stood.