Louisiana Classics Up Next for Illini
March 7, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -A week after tying for fourth at the USF Invitational, the sixth-ranked Fighting Illini visit Lafayette, La., for the 29th annual Louisiana Classics, hosted by Louisiana-Lafayette at Oakbourne Country Club on Monday and Tuesday, March 10-11. Illinois won the event by eight strokes over LSU last season, as all five Illini playing as part of the team finished in the top 26. The 54-hole event starts with an 8 a.m. shotgun start to a 36-hole day on Monday, then an 8 a.m. start off holes 1 and 10 for Tuesday's final round.
Live scoring will be available here, with free live streaming available on RaginCajuns.com. The Classics will provide fans the ability to watch holes No. 9 and 18 throughout the tournament or follow a featured group from the top three teams on Tuesday, as all 18 holes of their final round will be streamed live.
While five of the seven Illinois players who played in the Louisiana Classics last year return again this season, head coach Mike Small is looking for his team to once again find that cohesiveness that results in team titles.
"We have to be strong from top to bottom," Small said. "We can't just coast through a tournament and not have our best game and expect to win. We can be competitive in that situation but we're going to win. To win, we need a total team effort. The talent level is there, we just need to be who we are. If we can be who we are, we're a pretty strong team."
Junior Brian Campbell, who was named Big Ten Co-Golfer of the Week on Wednesday, has done that thus far, posting four top-10 finishes in five stroke-play events and missing his second medalist honors by one stroke last week at USF. He leads the team with a 69.67 stroke average.
"Brian Campbell is playing some fearless golf, which I love," Small said. "He doesn't get worried about the surroundings, the competition or his golf swing. He just goes and competes. And that's the mentality you want in all your players. When a guy plays as well as Campbell did last week, you need to ante up behind him."
Illinois has the capability of doing that, as multiple players have shown already this season. Sophomore Thomas Detry has three top-10 finishes, including a win at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate in September, this season, while sophomore Charlie Danielson, sophomore David Kim and senior Jonathan Hauter each have two top-10s on their résumés. But Detry, Kim and Hauter each had one round of 75 or above at USF, which kept the Illini from challenging for the title.
The makeup of the Illinois squad has changed from the past few years, from a longer-hitting group to more of a finesse team, Small said. That means each player on this Illini team has to focus on utilizing his own unique skill set to attack golf courses.
"We've had longer-hitting teams the last few years than we do this year," Small said. "We've had some bombers: some big, strong guys who can overpower the longer golf courses. This year, we're more of a finesse-type team where we have some guys who can hit it, but from top to bottom we don't have that length or that wow factor. So we need to play efficient, disciplined golf.
"These guys have the ability to shoot five-, six-, seven-under, but they just can't overpower some of these longer golf courses. So they have to play golf the right way. They have to play fearless golf. They have to play confident, efficient golf where you're playing to your strengths and you aren't creating mistakes or having unforced errors. We have to keep the hole in front of us, play to the strong side and control our ball flight."
Illinois will utilize the same lineup at the Louisiana Classics as it did at the USF Invitational last week: Campbell, Detry, Danielson, Kim and Hauter, with Alex Burge playing as an individual.