Chris DeForest has four straight top-four finishes.
May 12, 2009
Champaign, Ill. - With seven tournament victories, including the Big Ten Championship in their pockets, the Fighting Illini golf team is off to Galloway, N.J., for the NCAA Northeast Regional. The event held May 14-16 at the Galloway National Golf Club will be hosted by Columbia University. Galloway is a majestic 7,022-yard par 71 Tom Fazio-designed course.
"The NCAA post-season is what you practice all season for," said Illinois head coach Mike Small. "Besides the Big Ten Championships, this is where it all culminates."
Illinois is making its fifth NCAA Regional appearance under head coach Mike Small and eighth overall. The Illini will be looking for their 11th appearance in the NCAA finals and fourth in nine years under Small. The Illini came into last year's regional seeded 18th out of 27 and placed third en route to a 17th-place finish at the NCAA Championship.
Illinois, who is ranked 12th in the Golfweek rankings and 15th in the latest Golfstat Computer Rankings, is the number three seed at the 14-team Regional this year, behind top-seeded Clemson (3 in Golfstat computer rankings) and no. 2 Alabama (10). The rest of the field (Golfstat ranking in parentheses) includes no. 4 Tennessee (20), no. 5 Wake Forest (27), no. 6 Colorado State (34), no. 7 Kent State (39), no. 8 Coastal Carolina (47), no. 9 Virginia (51), no. 10 Penn State (58), no. 11 Minnesota (62), no. 12 VCU (68), no. 13 Columbia (202), and no. 14 Sacred Heart (218).
"Seeding is just the kind of team the committee thinks you have," Small said. "You still have to tee it up and play golf. The field is important, but in golf you can't play defense on them, so you have to play your own game. With the smaller regional field, we have to go out with the mindset to win it."
A total of 81 teams qualify for NCAA Regionals, competing at six different sites, three with 14 teams and three with 13 teams. The top five teams from each Regional advance to the 30-team NCAA Championship May 26-30 at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio.
The tournament is 54 holes with 18 holes played on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Illinois will be paired with the top two seeds, Clemson and Alabama, in the first round and will tee off from 8:30-9:10 am EDT (7:30-8:10 am CDT) Thursday. The rest of the days' pairings will be determined by placing going into that day. The Illini will utilize the same line-up as in the Big Ten Championship with sophomores Chris DeForest and Scott Langley, freshman Luke Guthrie and juniors Matt Hoffman and Zach Barlow. All five players finished in the top 20 at Big Tens with DeForest (third), Hoffman (seventh) and Guthrie (ninth) among the top 10.
"We're a young team on paper, but with a lot of experience," Small said. "There's some experience with success that we are going to try to build on."
Illinois is one of nine Big Ten teams to advance to the post-season. Besides Penn State and Minnesota in the Galloway Regional, Michigan is the eighth seed at Austin; Indiana is the second seed and Iowa the 11th seed in Sorento; Ohio State is the ninth seed in Bowling Green; and Michigan State is the seventh seed and Northwestern the ninth seed in Stillwater.
Live scoring for all Regionals will be provided on golfstat.com with Illinois recaps posted on fightingillini.com.