Illinois begins spring season at Tinervin Cup
Feb. 12, 2008
Champaign, Ill. - Four years ago, the Jeff Tinervin family, benefactors to both the Illinois and Illinois State golf programs, joined forces with the two schools to create the Tinervin Cup tournament to kick off the spring portion of the golf season.
The tournament is a match-play event, similar to the Ryder Cup, featuring the Illini and Redbirds at the Coral Creek Club, the family's home course, in Placida, Fla. The morning session features three two-on-two head-to-head best ball matches while the afternoon round features six singles matches.
The Cup, a traveling trophy, has each year's winner engraved on the side. The Illini have won the event each of the first four years, although the margin has gotten progressively tighter. Last year Illinois won 5 ½ - 3 ½.
The Illinois squad leaves Thursday and will be able to play practice rounds on both Friday and Sunday with the match against Illinois State slated for Saturday, Feb. 16.
The Illini made steady improvement in the computer rankings that determine representatives at the NCAA Regional Tournaments during the fall schedule. After last week's play across the country, Illinois moved up to No. 46, which likely would be good enough to qualify for post-season. The Illini also received votes in the final national NIKE/Golf World national coaches poll of the fall.
"Our players can see the development they've made on the golf course on the scorecard and the progression they've made in the rankings as well," said Illinois head coach Mike Small. "I think they see the trend we are making toward the positive. We have some good youth and some new excitement. The veterans are also taking their game to a new level."
Illinois participated in ISU's fall tournament - the D.A. Weibring, Oct. 7-8 in Normal. The Illini won the tournament by 17 strokes with a school-record 272 in the final round. Illinois freshman Chris DeForest claimed individual medalist honors after firing a school-record individual round of 63.
The Illinois team this weekend will feature the top six players from the fall - junior Larry Blatt, who led the team in stroke average (72.92), junior Jon Krick, senior Mark Ogren, sophomore Zach Barlow, DeForest, and freshman Scott Langley.
"Our guys have been involved in golf specific drills, hitting shots and putting more than they ever have this time of year," said Small on being able to utilize the Demirjian Indoor Facility during the off-season. "Physically, they're looking pretty good.
"I like match play because there are more shots under pressure than in stroke play," Small added. "It gets everyone's juices flowing and they're more engaged in winning."
The Tinervin Cup also gives the Illini players a chance to work on their games prior to playing in their first standard scoring tournament of the spring -- the Argonaut Invitational Feb. 25-26 in Pensacola, Fla.