#8 Illinois Ready for 3M Augusta Invitational
April 3, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The eighth-ranked Fighting Illini return to action this weekend with another chance to make some noise on the national stage. Illinois will be among three top-10 teams and seven top-25 squads competing in the 3M Augusta Invitational hosted by the Augusta Golf Association at the par-72, 7,028-yard Forest Hills Golf Club. With Big Ten Championships just one month away, Illinois has an opportunity to improve its résumé headed into the championship portion of the season.
The 54-hole 3M Augusta Invitational begins Saturday with a shotgun start to 36 holes at 7:30 a.m. CT. Sunday's final round begins off the No. 1 tee at 7:30 a.m. and off the No. 10 tee at 7:45. This marks the fifth-straight year that the Illini have played the tournament, finishing seventh in 2010, eighth in 2011, third in 2012 and 12th in 2013. Following the tournament, the teams are able to attend Monday's practice day at The Masters.
"The event has a good history and traditionally has a good field," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "For us, the timing is perfect with how it fits in our schedule. And the experience for the team to go to The Masters on Monday is a neat thing. This year, the names in the field may not be as intriguing to some people, but there are a lot of good teams. We're going to have to play well to have a good finish.
"In our last tournament, we just had one bad round and that did us in. We know we need to bring it all three rounds. The good teams in college golf and the good teams that we've had, all five guys stand up and deliver. You can't have guys disappear on you. But it was a positive week in Florida over spring break. We stayed down there and played some golf after The Valspar Invitational, and guys played pretty well."
Ranked teams joining No. 8 Illinois in the field are No. 7 Houston, No. 9 UCF, No. 12 Virginia Tech, No. 18 Texas, No. 20 New Mexico and No. 22 South Carolina. Clemson, Baylor and TCU received votes in the March 26 coaches' poll, and host GRU Augusta, Tennessee, Purdue, Coastal Carolina and USC Aiken - which is ranked No. 5 in the latest Division II coaches' poll - round out the field.
"This is the time of year where we really need to solidify our short game and our scoring shots," Small said. "From 100-120 yards in, that's where we need to get better and where we need to thrive. We've been driving the ball better but we need to keep developing our feel for the game and that just comes from playing."
The Illini will keep the same lineup they have utilized in every stroke-play event this season: senior Jonathan Hauter, junior Brian Campbell and sophomores Charlie Danielson, Thomas Detry and David Kim. Campbell, who is No. 18 in Golfweek's most recent individual rankings, leads Illinois with a 70.14 stroke average. Detry is No. 49 on Golfweek's list with a 70.81 average, while Danielson stands second on the team with a 70.45 mark and is No. 61 in Golfweek's ranking.