Top-Seeded Illini Open Big Ten Match Play Friday
Feb. 7, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill - For the fifth-straight year, the Big Ten will hold an early-season match-play tournament in Bradenton, Fla. And for the fifth-straight year, No. 17 Illinois is the top seed heading into the event. The Big Ten Match Play Championship will be contested on Friday and Saturday at The Concession Golf Club, a par-72, 7,177-yard course that was designed by Jack Nicklaus in association with Tony Jacklin and is the No. 4 course in Florida in Golf Digest's latest rankings.
"We want to win every event that we play in, but the purpose of this tournament is to prepare us for the more important stroke-play events," head coach Mike Small said. "As Big Ten coaches, we started this event five years ago to give us a chance to play against similar competition in a format that might benefit us later, and it's more conducive to television. We want to continue to train and knock the rust off before we get into the stroke-play portion of our schedule."
As the No. 1 seed, Illinois will face the winner of a Friday morning match between No. 8 Minnesota and No. 9 Michigan at noon on Friday in the quarterfinal round. Other round one match ups include No. 5 Ohio State against No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 7 Michigan State versus No. 10 Penn State and No. 6 Purdue against No. 11 Nebraska. Each team pairing consists of five individual matches that count for one point apiece. Teams are guaranteed at least three matches in the tournament.
Seedings were based on the Golfstat computer rankings following the fall season with three Big Ten teams in the top 50: Illinois at No. 17, Northwestern at No. 29 and Iowa at No. 50. The Illini also finished the fall ranked No. 19 in the Golf World/Nike coaches poll and No. 18 in the Golfweek rankings.
The Illini will have six golfers available for the five-man matches: Ben Hogan Award watch list member Thomas Pieters, senior Mason Jacobs, sophomore Brian Campbell and freshmen Charlie Danielson, Thomas Detry and David Kim.
Illinois is looking for its first Big Ten Match Play title after finishing in the top six of the 2012 event when the consolation bracket was left unfinished because of darkness. The Illini finished fourth in the event in 2011, fifth in 2010 and fourth in 2009.
The Big Ten Match Play Championship will be filmed by the Big Ten Network and aired as a highlight show that will air at 9:30 a.m. CT on Sunday, March 10.