Former PGA Tour professional returns to alma mater
April 5, 2000
|Mike Small (third from left), pictured with Coach Ed Beard and the 1988 Big Ten Championship team, has been named Beard's successor as men's golf coach at Illinois. Beard, who has served in that capacity for 20 years, will retire June 1, and Small who has been playing professionally since then, will take over. At the far right is Small's teammate and current PGA touring pro Steve Stricker.|
"We're delighted to have Mike rejoin the Illini family as our head golf coach," said Guenther. "His work ethic demonstrated in his long professional golfing career, along with his close Illinois ties and his knowledge of the game will be real strengths as our new golf coach. Illinois golf has established a solid tradition under Coach Beard and we look for Mike to continue that tradition of excellence."
Small, a native of nearby Danville, was a four-year letterwinner and team captain at Illinois from 1985-88, earning All-Big Ten and All-NCAA Region IV honors for the 1988 Illinois squad that captured the Big Ten championship. Small was runner-up at the 1988 Big Ten Championship to fellow Illini, Steve Stricker, now competing on the PGA tour. As a collegian, Small won the Butler National Intercollegiate, hosted by Illinois as the prestigious Butler National Golf Club in suburban Chicago, and the MSU Spartan Classic.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to come back to a place that I love, the University of Illinois and the Central Illinois area where I grew up," said Small. "Coach Beard has had great success here and I plan to build on that success as we move into the future."
On the professional golf tour, Small played on the Canadian, South African and Hooters and Nike Tours before earning his PGA Tour card in 1998. Small won two Nike Tour events and finished in the Top 15 on the Nike Tour earnings list. He placed ninth at the PGA Bell Canadian Open in 1998, his highest PGA tour finish, and remains a part-time competitor on the PGA and Buy.Com (formerly Nike) tours.
Small, 34, earned his bachelor's degree in marketing from Illinois in 1989. Small is the son of former Illini all-Big Ten basketball standout Bill Small (1961-63), a captain on the 1963 Big Ten championship squad. His brother, Andy, was a member of the 1990 Big Ten championship Illinois baseball squad and also served as a team captain.
Small and his wife, Ann, have two sons, Will (4) and Wyatt (2) and plan to locate to Champaign.