#6 Illini Travel South to USF Invitational
Feb. 27, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - No. 6 Illinois begins the stroke-play portion of its spring schedule this weekend when it travels to the USF Invitational at the par-72, 7,153-yard Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club in Dade City, Fla., The 54-hole event will be contested over three days, Sunday through Tuesday. The Illini will square off against No. 17 Florida State, No. 20 USF, No. 24 Auburn, Mercer (receiving votes) and Florida, along with Big Ten foes Purdue, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the 17-team field.
"This is the first time we've been to this tournament," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "It's a good field and it's a big field. We like it because it's a three-day event so we can play 18 (holes) each day and get some practice in along the way, which is good this time of year. There are some top southern schools there so we can gauge ourselves against them but also keep making progress toward our ultimate goal of getting our games in order."
After a seventh-place finish at the Big Ten Match Play Championships two weeks ago, the Illini have shifted gears into the stroke-play mentality that served them so well during a fall season where they won two tournaments and posted the best fall stroke average in school history.
"We're going down to win the tournament, to compete and get in the habit of winning," Small said. "We have to get back in that habit again after having the fall that we had. Stroke play is a whole different animal than match play. There are different tactics and things to emphasize when you're playing stroke play versus match play, so we have to get back in that way of thinking.
"I stand by what I've said that Big Ten Match Play was a positive trip for us. Even though we didn't win the tournament, it was a positive trip. Now it's important for us to get in the mentality of winning, the mentality of shooting low scores and starting to build our body of work. But we need to go down with the mentality that we're going to compete at a high level."
Illinois will stick with the six-man roster it took to Big Ten Match Play, with junior Brian Campbell, sophomores Charlie Danielson, Thomas Detry and David Kim, and fifth-year senior Jonathan Hauter making up the team lineup and junior Alex Burge playing as an individual.