May 1, 2001
URBANA, Ill. -- The University of Illinois men's golf team is preparing to host the 2001 Big Ten Men's Golf Championship May 4-6. The 72-hole tournament will be played at the par 72, 7,118-yard Stone Creek Golf Club on Windsor Road in Urbana. Admission is free to all four rounds of the three-day event.
The weekend's events kick off with the NCAA YES clinic at Stone Creek from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 3. Golf pros and members of the Illinois men's and women's golf teams will work on the basics of the game with children ages 3-12.
The tournament officially gets under way with the first round at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (May 4). Two rounds will be played on Saturday beginning at 7:30 a.m. The final 18-hole round of the tournament is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
Northwestern is the two-time defending team champion. Last season, the Wildcats won the event with a 72-hole total of 1160. Northwestern's Luke Donald was the Big Ten Championship medalist in 2000. He has also won the past two Big Ten Player of the Year and Les Bolstad (low stroke average) Awards. Donald also was the 1999 NCAA Champion.
Several teams and individuals could challenge Northwestern for the title this year. Ohio State is coming off a stellar performance at the Marshall Invitational a month ago. Behind a strong performance from senior Mike Austin, the Buckeyes won the tournament with a total of 13-under par 839. Michigan State and Minnesota also have been playing well recently. The Gopher's Wilhelm Schauman is the 50th-ranked men's collegiate golfer in the country.
Purdue won the 2000 Northern Intercollegiate at Stone Creek in the fall. Iowa also fared well, taking second place, on its last trip to Stone Creek. Indiana tied with Michigan for third at that tournament behind Top 10 finishes from Mike Castleforte and Steve Wheatcroft. Michigan's Andy Matthews shot a course record of 68 in the second round of that tournament. After tying for third at the Northern, the Wolverines have come close to the title in several spring competitions.
Penn State's Matt Abbott won the individual title at the 2000 Northern. His teammate, Andy Latowski recently earned his first medalist honors as the Nittany Lions won the Princeton Invitational title a few weeks ago. The Wisconsin Badgers visited Stone Creek once this spring. They tied with Northwestern in a triangular event.
The young Illinois team has a home course advantage for the tournament. Knowledge of how the course plays could make up for a lack of championship experience. The Stone Creek course offers many challenges even without figuring in the potential for strong winds at the rural location.