Scott Langley checks in at No. 9 in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings.
March 17, 2011
While most of the country is firmly focused on March Madness, the bracket for the Callaway Collegiate Match Play has been unveiled with Illinois garnering a No. 4 seed in the 16-team event.
Illinois will come into this weekend's event on the heels of moving up a spot to sixth in the latest Golf World/NIKE Coaches poll. The Illini are tied with San Diego State for that spot behind only Oklahoma State, UCLA, Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech, who is the host for this weekend's tournament.
The Callaway Collegiate Match Play Tournament is in its 10th season and annually invites 16 of the best teams in the country. Over the course of three days, each team will compete in four rounds of competition in a championship and consolation bracket format. This year's tournament will be held March 20-22 at Hawks Ridge Golf Club in Ballground, Ga.
"As a coach, you schedule your teams in a way that fits their academic schedule and also our potential athletically to play in the post-season," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "As part of that we want to play good golf courses that test our guys and help us get better. This event fits that perfectly."
The fourth-seeded Illini meet 13th-seeded Baylor in one first-round match-up. The winner of that match-up will meet the winner the Texas A&M-Pacific match-up. The Aggies come in ranked 11th in the nation and are the fifth-seed in the tournament. Pacific enters as the 12th seed. The rest of the opening round match-ups (national ranking in parentheses) feature top-seed UCLA (2) vs. 16-seeded South Carolina, eighth-seeded Georgia (15) vs. ninth-seeded Texas Tech (18), third-seeded Georgia Tech (5) vs. Washington State, sixth-seeded Iowa (12) vs. 11th-seeded USC (23), seventh-seeded Texas (9) vs. 10th-seeded Duke (22) and second-seeded Alabama (3) vs. East Tennessee State.
Each team match will be comprised of five singles matches, using USGA match play scoring. Each singles match winner will be awarded one point. The team match score will be determined by totaling the points for the five singles matches.
Two years ago the NCAA Championship went to a match-play format, featuring the top eight teams during stroke play to determine its champion. The Illini have also participated in the Big Ten Match Play each of the past three seasons.
"To be invited to it shows that we are one of the elite teams," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "Although we haven't had the kind of success that we would have liked in the Big Ten Match Play, I think we can be a good match-play team. This is just another way to practice and prepare for the NCAA if we can get there."
Illinois is coming off a six-stroke victory at the Louisiana Classics, a tournament that featured ninth-ranked LSU. That marked the Illini's 19th tournament victory in the last four years.
"We are trying to develop our players' mindsets to be closers," Small said. "That could be the end of every round, the end of every tournament or the end of every season. It's important to run through the finish line. I felt like we showed maturity in closing that event out. Our guys have shown that individually in elite match-play events over the summer. Now's our chance to prove we can do that in a team match-play situation."
Fans can follow the event at collegiatematchplay.com .