Matt Hoffman won both of his matches last week at the Tinervin Cup.
March 5, 2009
After two match play events during the month of February, seventh-ranked Illinois will participate in its first major stroke play event of the spring season. The Illini will be one of five ranked teams in the 14-team field at the General Jim Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on March 8-9.
The tournament at the famed 6,955-yard par 72 TPC of Myrtle Beach features defending national champion and 19th ranked UCLA, the event's defending champion. Other ranked teams in the event include 22nd-ranked North Carolina State, 24th-ranked Duke and 25th-ranked Pepperdine.
As the highest-ranked team in the field, Illinois enters the tournament as the favorite on paper. The Illini won three of their five tournaments in the fall, defeating a number of ranked opponents. All five players in the Illinois line-up have shot 67 during the season with four shooting rounds of 65 or better. The Illini are coming off an 8-1 victory over Illinois State at the Tinervin Cup, an event that saw sophomore Scott Langley fire a 68 and promising freshman Luke Guthrie post a 69. Head coach Mike Small believes his team is approaching the spring with a purpose.
"The first two events were designed to prepare for stroke play events and it's now here," Small said. "We need to carry any momentum, rhythm and mindset that we developed last week into this week."
Small believes that with his team's success over the past 12 months, the approach to each tournament has changed.
"In the old days, we used events in March as kind of a warm up," he said. "Now, even though we may still have a little rust and may not be at the very top of our game, but we are going to win. There are different ways you can win, while not necessarily having our `A' game."
Having said that, Small also believes that the competition this week will provide a big challenge. "There are some ranked teams and some big name mid-major schools at Myrtle Beach," he said. "We're going down there because of the field and the golf course. While, you're not going to win them all, we're going to play from the first shot to the last shot with the mindset that we are going to be in it to the end."
Live event coverage for the General Jim Hackler Championship can be found at golfstat.com.