Sophomore Thomas Pieters paced the Orange and Blue, coming in eighth individually with a tournament total 217 (+4).
Sept. 11, 2011
SUGAR GROVE, Ill. - At its season-opening fall tournament, No. 13 Illinois tied for sixth with Purdue at the Northern Intercollegiate, posting a team total of 891 (+39) for the 54-hole event. Sophomore Thomas Pieters paced the Orange and Blue, coming in eighth individually with a tournament total 217 (+4), while senior Luke Guthrie placed 11th with a 219 (+6). The Illini recorded scores of 295 during the first two rounds before closing the competition with a 301 at the par-71, 6,954-yard Rich Harvest Farms.
"I will wait to make more of an assessment after next week and not judge too much after just one tournament," head coach Mike Small said. "But we got kicked in the teeth pretty good today and got beat up by the course. Finishing sixth in this field is not what we are looking for, and we are not used to finishing sixth, but there were reasons why. The golf course intimidated us a little bit, and we didn't strike the ball as well as we needed to."
Pieters started on the back nine all three days and played solid, carding eight of his 11 birdies in the tournament on those holes while playing them 3-under. The Nijlen, Belgium, native opened his sophomore campaign with a 2-over 73 on Saturday and followed it up with a pair of 72s during the second and third rounds. It was the third top-10 finish at a tournament for his collegiate career.
"Thomas played a nice tournament, but even he had some big numbers," Small said. "Big numbers were all through our team and that is not common for us. We usually pride ourselves in not making those big numbers, and as a coach, I don't approve of that. Today may have just been an aberration, so I am going to wait until after next week to really see where we are at and begin to formulate a game plan for the season."
Guthrie was even after round one on Saturday, shooting 71 with two birdies and two bogeys in his first fall round. He turned in a 2-over 73 during the second round, which was cut short on Saturday due to darkness and completed on Sunday along with round three, where Guthrie finished with a 75. The All-American rolled in six birdies during the final round but suffered a setback on the par-4 17th with a 10.
Redshirt junior Mason Jacobs came in third for the Illini, tying for 39th overall with a 54-hole total of 229. Jacobs began the tournament with a 74 and improved on that with a 73 in the second but struggled down the stretch of the final round to end with an 82. Sophomore John Gullberg shot back-to-back 77s and closed with a 76 to tie for 44th with a total of 230 while junior Ross Frankenburg tied for 68th with a total of 238 after rounds of 77, 83 and 78.
Redshirt sophomore Jonathan Hauter competed as an individual and tied for 25th with a 54-hole score of 227. The Groveland, Ill., native tallied 11 birdies over his three rounds of 74, 78 and 75.
Central Florida (870) won the 16-team tournament by 10 strokes over runner-up Tulsa (880). Indiana (888) took third followed by Ball State and Virginia Tech in a tie for fourth at 889. Ball State's Tyler Merkel and UCF's Brad Schneider shared the individual title with a 1-under 212.
Next week, Illinois will host the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational from Sept. 16-18 at the Olympia Fields Country Club.