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    Illini stay in the hunt at prestigious Olympia Fields Illini Invite
    Scott Langley fired a team-best even par 70 in round two.

    Scott Langley fired a team-best even par 70 in round two.

    Sept. 20, 2008

    Olympia Fields, Ill. -

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    One figured it was a matter of time before Oklahoma State made its rise to the top of the standings at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational presented by Srixon. The Cowboys, ranked no. 2 in the national rankings, entered play three strokes off the pace then fired a tournament best one-over par 281 to move to +12 and into the lead by a stroke in their quest for a second straight championship.

    Illinois, however, is right on the heels of OSU heading into the final round. The Fighting Illini, the first round tri-leaders, bettered their round from Friday by three strokes with a 285 and is at +13, just one stroke off the lead. The Illini will be paired with Oklahoma State and third-place Indiana in the final round Sunday. The 20th-ranked Hoosiers are eight strokes off the pace +20, just ahead of a bundle of teams - 24th-ranked Texas (+21) in fourth, fifth-ranked Stanford, no. 12 Arizona State and Penn State (+23) in a tie for fifth and eighth-place Vanderbilt (+24). Top-ranked UCLA is in ninth at +28 while 11th-ranked Florida State rounds out the top ten at +29.

    "This is a competitive bunch," said Illinois head coach Mike Small. "That's what I like about them. We're learning how to win, and I know for a fact they really want to win."

    Penn State's Kevin Foley has the individual lead after 36 holes at -2 after firing back-to-back 69s on the 7,157-yard par 70 North Course. Oklahoma State's Trent Leon, first round leader Alex Martin from Indiana and Arizona State's Scott Pinckey, who shot a tournament best 67, are in a three-way tied for second at even par.

    Illinois has two players in the top ten - sophomore Chris DeForest, in a two-way for fifth at +1 after shooting a 71 Saturday, and junior Zach Barlow, who had a remarkable comeback to his second round and enters the final round tied for seventh at +2.

    Illinois led the first half of round two, but fell to second at +14 at the turn. That's when the Illini but forth a barrage of birdies on the back nine to retake the lead. DeForest had four birdies on the back nine and has a tournament-leading 10 birdies for the event. He and Barlow each shot 71 Saturday. Barlow made the biggest charge on the day. After double bogeying his first hole, Barlow responded with birdies on six, 12 and 16 and came within an eyelash at sinking a birdie putt on 17.

    Sophomore Scott Langley, who is tied for 15 individually, had five birdies on the day and sat at three-under for his round heading into the final three holes before shooting even par 70, the best round of the day by an Illini. Illinois had 14 birdies as a team, including eight on the back nine.

    Sophomore Clayton Parkhill shot a career-best 73 while junior Matt Hoffman fired a 75. At 573, the Illini are 12 strokes better than they were last year heading into the final day.

    "I'm excited about tomorrow," Langley said. " We're playing some good schools, but if we play our game, we should have a good shot at being right up there."

    "We need to have a clear mind and enjoy the ride," Small said. "If we're out there pressing and trying too hard, things won't flow as easily. The more relaxed we are and the more we enjoy it, the more confident we'll be."

    Illinois tees off from 8:40-9:12 am Sunday.

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