Illinois senior Scott Langley is one of three players with majors experience at this week's Illini Spring Classic. Here Langley reacts to his putt on the eighth hole as seen during the third round at the World Amateur Team Championship for the Eisenhower Trophy at Buenos Aires Golf Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
April 11, 2011
Urbana, Ill. - Following Illinois' most recent tournament in Augusta, Ga., the Illini players attended the practice round for the Masters, taking in the grandeur of the world's most prestigious golf event. Playing in a major tournament is one of the ultimate goals of any golfer, but when Illinois tees it up again this week at the Illini Spring Classic, that event will feature three men, who not only have dreamt about playing in a major, but have major experience.
Illinois' Scott Langley placed 16th at the 2010 U.S. Open; Northwestern's Eric Chun just missed the cut at last year's British Open and Michigan's Lion Kim competed at the recently concluded Masters Tournament.
The tournament at the Stone Creek Golf Club in Urbana, will serve as somewhat of a Big Ten Tournament preview, with only 14th-ranked Iowa, which is hosting its own tournament this weekend, the only conference team not competing at the Illini Classic. It comes just two weeks before the teams tee it up for the Big Ten Championship in West Lafayette where Illinois is the two-time defending champion.
"Stone Creek is in as good of shape as I've seen it in a long time," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "They want it to play fast, but this time of the year, the conditions always determine how the course is going to play."
Illinois heads a total of three Big Ten schools in the rankings this week at No. 10, while Ohio State, previously unranked, is No. 24 in the latest Golf World/Nike coaches poll.
This is the first time in three years the local fans will get a chance to see the Illini, which includes Langley, the 2010 NCAA champion. Tee times will begin at 8 am each day with a shotgun start. The first 36 holes of the 54-hole tournament are Saturday with the final 18 holes on Sunday. Admission to the Illini Spring Classic is free.
"This tournament gives our guys a chance to play in front of family and friends, and in turn, our community, which supports us in many ways, see our team compete in nice event," Small said.
Besides Chun, Kim and Langley, it features a total of nine men ranked in the top 100 in the nation by Golfweek's computer, headlined by Illinois' Luke Guthrie, who checks in at No. 17. That list includes Langley (41), Northwestern's David Lipsky (67), Ohio State's Bo Hoag (74), Illinois' Chris DeForest (80), Kim (81), Minnesota's Donald Constable (84), and Ohio State's Brad Smith (90).
The complete field (with the Golfweek computer rankings in parentheses) consists of Illinois (12), Ohio State (23), Indiana (34), Michigan (42), Purdue (44), Northwestern (56), Penn State (68), Minnesota (69), Xavier (108), Akron (114), Illinois State (150), Michigan State (157), Wisconsin (190) and Creighton (220).
Big Ten teams have had some success in the post-season as well with five of the 30 teams at the 2009 NCAA Championship coming from the Big Ten, including Michigan, who made the match play round.
"We have a chance to solidify ourselves in the Big Ten again, but we need to build some momentum," Small said. "Anything can happen on a given weekend, but we need to continue to strive to get better each day."
Live scoring will be available at golfstatresults.com .