Luke Guthrie shot a final round 69 to finish in a tie for fifth at the Windon Memorial Classic.
Oct. 5, 2009
Glencoe, Ill. - The tournament lead ping-ponged back-and-forth Monday afternoon at the Windon Memorial Classic. In the end, though, No. 7 Illinois pulled away for a six-shot victory over host Northwestern, claiming its second straight title in the event and second championship in three tournaments this fall.
The morning began with the Illini holding a three-shot lead over Michigan with a few holes left in the second round. The Illini got a two-under par 69 from junior Chris DeForest in the second round at the 7,081-yard Skokie Country Club, then got consistent performances from the entire club in the third and final round, which included a 69 from sophomore Luke Guthrie en route to a final team score of +16.
The Illini had two solid rounds of + 1 (285) and +2 (286) after a first-round +13 (297). Illinois finished tournament at +16 followed by Northwestern (+22), Kent State (+24), Eastern Michigan (+30) and first-round leader Michigan (+36). Tennessee, which had entered the day No. 1 in the Golfweek computer rankings and No. 6 in the Golf World/Nike Coaches' poll, finished seventh in the tournament at +39.
"It just shows the resiliency of this club," said Illinois head coach Mike Small, whose team has now won 12 tournaments in the last 2+ seasons. "We had five good, solid players who have made winning a habit and we closed like champions."
Junior Scott Langley, ranked No. 2 in the country in the Golfweek/Sagarin computer rankings, paced the Illini at +3 after posting even par 71 in the final two rounds, to tie for third, two strokes behind co-medalists Brett Cairns of Kent State and Dan Obremski of Coastal Carolina.
"We're never going to give up no matter how far down we are," Langley said. "We got more and more comfortable with the golf course as the tournament went on. Personally, I was able to shake off a tough start with some birdies down the stretch. In the end, we showed the depth and consistency of this team."
In a format which scores four of the top five from each round, the Illini threw out a 74 in the third round, which demonstrates the fact that everyone contributed to the victory. Individually, the Illini had three players in the top 10 and four in the top 15. Guthrie closed with four birdies in his final five holes and totaled five birdies overall in his final round 69 to finish in a tie for fifth at +5. Senior Matt Hoffman, meanwhile, had consistent rounds of 72-73-74 to tie for ninth at +6. Senior Zach Barlow shot 72 (+1) in the third round to tie for 14th at +8. Junior Chris DeForest finished strong with rounds of 69-74 to tie for 30th in the 81-man field at +10. Ross Frankenberg played as an individual and finished at +25.
Illinois entered the day ranked No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin computer rankings and No. 10 according to the Golfstat computer. With the victory over Tennessee, the Illini now have finished in front of five Top-25 teams in the first three tournaments.
Illinois has a few weeks to prepare for the final two tournaments of the fall - the Isleworth Invitational Oct. 25-27 and the Turtle Bay Collegiate Invitational in Kahuku, Hawaii Nov. 2-4 -- where the Illini will face even more of the country's top teams.
"We have a few things to work on before then," Small said. "We're happy with the way we attacked a very tough golf course and was determined to finish strong."