Illinois Moves to Second in Stacked Field
Oct. 22, 2012
Windermere, Fla. -
Illinois was paired with the top two teams in the country in the second round of the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational on Monday, and the Illini responded by moving up a spot to second place in the tournament against a field that includes eight ranked teams.
The Illini had the second-best round of the day with a three-over par 291 and at +6 for the tournament sits just three strokes behind top-ranked California (+3) in the 15-team field. In fact, Illinois' Monday round was four strokes better than either Cal or second-ranked Texas, which each shot 295. Only sixth-ranked Florida (286) had a better round than Illinois on the day.
Heading into Tuesday's third and final round, the top five teams are separated by only five strokes. Following Cal and Illinois are Texas (+7), Florida (+7) and 17th-ranked New Mexico (+8), who also shot 291 on the day. Third-ranked Alabama is in sixth at +12 followed by eighth-ranked Arkansas (+16), North Florida (+17), Vanderbilt (+21) and TCU (+23).
Illinois brought three freshmen and a sophomore in its five-man line-up, yet the Illini are the only team with all five players inside the top 30. Although head coach Mike Small is impressed with his team's quick development, he believes that is what is expected from a program that has won four Big Ten titles and advanced to the NCAA finals five straight times.
"I think you can talk too much about the youth of the team," Small said. "These players come to Illinois believing this is one of the top programs. For us to go toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the country is something we embrace and cherish. This is the mindset that we want to continue to develop in them."
What was most impressive was the way the Illini finished their round. Freshman Thomas Detry got off to a solid start, sitting at -2 for his round through eight holes, but the rest of the team had some hiccups on the front nine. Freshman Charlie Danielson, for instance, triple bogeyed the first hole and finished the front nine at +4. As a team, Illinois made the turn at +5.
However, Illinois made a charge down the stretch. Dainelson played the back nine at -3. Sophomore Brian Campbell had three birdies and shot -1. Senior Mason Jacobs also had three birdies in his final nine holes. The Illini were -2 in its second nine to finish the day at +3 for the round and +6 for the tournament.
"They all fought back pretty hard which is promising," Small said. "We stayed within the game plan and continued to play disciplined golf which is what this golf course calls for. The way we showed resiliency down the stretch was positive."
Campbell shot an even-par 72 on the 7,544-yard Isleworth Country Club course to remain at -1 for the tournament. He is tied for fifth individually, four strokes behind leader Michael Kim of California and one shot behind a three way tie for second at -2. Campbell will be paired with Michael Kim and one of those in second place, Jordan Speith of Texas, in the final round.
"I have been confident off of every tee and I've been able to place it where I want to," Campbell said of his round. "I hit all my shots pretty solidly. I didn't have as great a round as I had the first day, but was able to save myself. Overall it was a solid round of golf."
Danielson's recovery puts the Osceola, Wis., native in a tie for 12th in the 75-player field at +2 after a second straight 73. Detry is in a tie for 17th at +3 after a 72 on Monday. Senior Mason Jacobs and freshman David Kim are each tied for 28th at +5.
Campbell said the Illini, winners of two of the their first three tournaments, are excited about competing for the top spot in Tuesday's final round.
"This tournament has given us a lot of confidence," Campbell said. "After the first couple of rounds, we're right in this. It shows our depth as a team. We want to approach it the same way we did today. Nothing should surprise us. We just want to go out there and hit confident shots."
Although Small is encouraged, he does supply a word of caution by saying, "In golf, past performances do not guarantee future results. We need to put this behind us and get ready to play tomorrow."