April 30, 2014
Illinois Seeks Sixth-Straight Big Ten Title
Illinois is in search of its sixth-straight Big Ten title when the Fighting Illini tee it up at the 2014 Big Ten Championships at the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind. Only one other team has won six consecutive titles in conference history: Ohio State from 1982-87. Illinois has won 12 Big Ten team titles overall: 1923, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1940, 1941, 1988, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Head coach Mike Small has the unique distinction of winning one Big Ten championship as a player (1988) and five as a coach.
This season, the Illini have won three tournaments, taking titles at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate and The Macdonald Cup in the fall, and the Louisiana Classics in the spring. They have finished in the top 10 in all nine stroke-play events they have competed in, including seven top-five finishes.
Top Trio Propels Illini into Postseason
Usually, a top player emerges throughout the course of a team's season. But this year, three Illinois players have proved to be equally elite with their play. Brian Campbell (70.81), Charlie Danielson (70.88) and Thomas Detry (70.85) all carry season stroke averages under 71 and all are in position to break Luke Guthrie's single-season record of 71.19. Only one stroke separates Campbell and Detry atop the Illini statistics, while Danielson has one less round on the season because he withdrew from the first round of the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational with an injury but played the final two rounds.
Campbell, Danielson and Detry have combined for 28 rounds in the 60s and only five rounds over 75 all season, totaling 40 rounds under par and 13 even-par rounds among their 80 total rounds in 2013-14. Campbell and Detry each won a tournament in the fall, while Danielson has three top-five finishes.
All three have a good chance to take home medalist medalist honors and they will be trying to give Illinois four straight Big Ten medalists after Luke Guthrie took the honors in 2011 and 2012, and Thomas Pieters won the tournament in 2013. That would mark only the fourth time in conference history (since 1920) that the same school produced an individual medalist in four or more consecutive seasons (Michigan, 1932-36; Purdue, 1956-60; Ohio State, 1976-79).
But Don't Sleep on Kim, Hauter
While Campbell, Danielson and Detry have garnered the headlines in 2013-14, Illinois' fourth and fifth players - Jonathan Hauter and David Kim - have proved more than capable. In fact, they are tied with a 73.15 season stroke average heading into Big Ten Championships, which would equal Zach Barlow's 2009-10 average as 25th-best in program history. Hauter was Illinois' top finisher at the Boilermaker Invitational two weeks ago, tying for sixth, has three top-10 finishes and five top-15s on the season. He also has 10 rounds under par. Kim, meanwhile, has two top-10s and four top-25 finishes, and also boasts 10 rounds under par.
Success under Coach Small
Head coach Mike Small has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year each of the past five seasons and six times overall during his 14-year tenure as Illinois head coach. Along with the current streak of five titles, Illinois posted three straight runner-up finishes from 2002-04 and took third in 2008 with Small at the helm.
The Big Ten Field in the National Rankings
Illinois is the only Big Ten team ranked or receiving votes in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf Division I Coaches Poll, standing at No. 8. The Illini also are the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, coming in at No. 8. Iowa is the next Big Ten squad at No. 36, Northwestern is No. 44 and Purdue is No. 49. The remainder of the 12-team field consists of Ohio State (60), Minnesota (70), Michigan (78), Indiana (79), Michigan State (135), Nebraska (147), Penn State (154) and Wisconsin (158). For the season, Illinois 13-1-1 in stroke-play events against Big Ten schools, finishing second to Iowa in the Boilermaker Invitational and tying for fourth with Purdue at the USF Invitational in early March.
Campbell is the highest-ranked Big Ten player in this week's Golfweek/Sagarin men's individual rankings at No. 37, with Detry checking in at No. 42. Iowa's Steven Ihm is 46th and Danielson is the next-best Big Ten golfer at No. 72. Northwestern's Jack Perry (No. 78) and Purdue's Adam Schenk (No. 91) are the only other golfers in this weekend's field ranked in the top 100.
The Venue - Pete Dye Course
The Pete Dye Course was named America's Best New Public Course in 2009 by Golf Digest and is regarded as one of the most breathtaking 18 holes of golf in the nation. Golfweek Magazine has ranked the course No. 1 in the "Best Courses You Can Play" rankings for the state of Indiana. This is the third-straight year that the Big Ten Championships will take place at a neutral site, as the women's Big Ten Championships were held at the Dye Course last weekend and the men following suit this week. The Dye course will be set at par 72, 7,152 yards for the championships. Located on one of Indiana's highest elevation points, the 18-hole course boasts a variety of elevation changes as well as three man-made lakes.
Detry Named to Team Europe for 2014 Palmer Cup
Thomas Detry was named to the Team Europe roster for the 2014 Palmer Cup, making him the third Illini player in the last five years to compete in the event. Scott Langley played for Team USA in 2010, while Thomas Pieters played for the European side in 2012. The Ryder Cup-style event for college golfers will take place June 26-28 at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surry, England. Fellow Illini Brian Campbell was included in the final rankings for Team USA but was not selected to the 10-man team.
Illinois Boasts Big Ten-Best 5 Golfer of the Week Honors
For the third-straight year, Illinois golfers have recorded the most Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors, grabbing five. Brian Campbell and Thomas Detry each have won two weekly awards, with Charlie Danielson picking up one. Campbell earned his first honor by posting an eye-popping 13-under-par 197 - the second-best 54-hole score in Big Ten history - to earn his first collegiate medalist honors at The Macdonald Cup in October. He took home another honor after placing second at the USF Invitational with a 15-under-par 201 on March 4, then Danielson and Detry shared the honor when they tied for second at the Louisiana Classics with a 7-under-par 209. Detry earned the award by himself on April 9 when he tied for fourth at 8-under-par at the 3M Augusta Invitational.