Illini Look to Defend Title at Louisiana Classics
March 4, 2012
LAFAYETTE, La. - In its second stroke play tournament of the spring, the Illinois men's golf team will look to defend its team title at the 27th annual Louisiana Classics on March 5-6. The 54-hole tournament will consist of 36 holes on Monday followed by a final round on Tuesday at the par 72, 6,898-yard Oakbourne Country Club, with both days scheduled to tee off with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. The Illini won the event in 2011 by six strokes over LSU with a team total of 854 (-10).
"Playing there before and having success is a big advantage for us," head coach Mike Small said. "Four of our six guys in the lineup have played the golf course in the past, so that is encouraging. They know what to expect with the grasses and different types of shots they may have which is a plus."
The Illini will send their same lineup from the season-opening Mobile Bay Intercollegiate, where the team placed fourth overall. Sophomore Thomas Pieters and senior Luke Guthrie, who each finished in the top 10 to start the season, will lead the team along with junior Mason Jacobs, freshman Brian Campbell and sophomore Jonathan Hauter, who played this event as an individual last year. Guthrie tied for second a year ago at the tournament while Pieters and Jacobs each placed in the top 30. Freshman Alex Burge is slated to play as an individual.
"We are going to win and that is always our expectation," Small said. "We want to play as hard as we can and leave as a better team than we came. For this time of year, the golf course and the field fit our schedule perfectly."
No. 26 Illinois is one of six schools in the 15-team field ranked in the top 50 according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. The University of Louisiana-Lafayette will host ranked squads No. 14 LSU, No. 21 Kent State, No. 40 SMU, No. 43 Memphis, No. 48 Tulsa along with Houston, Kansas, NC State, South Alabama, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Texas State and UTSA.
"We have done some good work over the past couple weeks," Small said. "The weather has been good, so we have been outside getting some individual work in. We've moved from stationary practices where we worked on our golf swings to actually getting outside to play some golf."
Live updates at the tournament will be provided on Twitter via @CajunGolf while live scoring can be found on golfstat.com. A full recap and results will be posted on fightingillini.com following each day.