Small Wins 11th Illinois PGA Championship
Aug. 27, 2014
GRAYSLAKE, Ill. - University of Illinois head coach Mike Small posted a six-under-par final-round 66 to take a five-shot victory at the 92nd Illinois PGA Championship at Stonewall Orchard Golf Club on Wednesday. His 54-hole total of 200 (-16) ties the tournament record. It is Small's second-straight Illinois PGA Championship title and 11th in his career, which is a tournament record.
RECAP FROM ILLINOIS PGA
Steve Orrick knew it was a tall order to make up five shots on the most dominant player in Illinois PGA history. Despite a string of four consecutive birdies at Nos. 2-5 and another at No. 8, Orrick only managed to gain two shots on Small at the turn. Small quickly answered with a birdie streak of his own (Nos. 10-12), which all but secured his record 11th Illinois PGA Championship on Wednesday at Stonewall Orchard Golf Club.
"It caught my attention," Small said when asked about Orrick's 5-under-paar 31 on the front nine. "He (Orrick) pushed the issue today, which was good. It motivated me to play better and I was proud of the way I responded."
The turning point in the final round came at No. 10 where Orrick and Small, who shot a bogey-free 31 and 33, respectively on the front nine, went in opposite directions. Small made birdie on the par-5 and a poor chip from Orrick led to a bogey 6, resulting in a two-shot swing.
"I had pretty good momentum when I came to No. 10," said Orrick. "He (Small) was going to make a (birdie) 4 at worst and I was also in position to make 4 but walked away making a (bogey) 6. He's (Small) not going to make many mistakes so you have to go out and make zero mistakes and get lucky to even come close to making up five shots."
Both competitors went on to make birdie at the par-3 11th hole and at No. 12, Small, after two errant shots, chipped in from 40 feet for his third consecutive birdie and fourth over his previous five holes.
"The chip-in at No. 12 was big," said Small when asked about his stretch of four birdies from Nos. 8-12. "I hit a bad tee shot and then another bad shot out of the bunker. I told Jimmy (Small's caddie) that I was going to make it so that was kind of funny."
After the chip-in at No. 12, Small, 48, men's head golf coach at the University of Illinois, was ahead by 6 shots over Orrick with six holes remaining.
Orrick, 36, PGA head golf professional at Country Club of Decatur, would birdie No. 14 to close the gap to five shots but would get no closer as both made par on the remaining four holes, giving Small his second consecutive Illinois PGA Championship title and 11th overall.
"It just feels good to be able to play good golf again," Small said. "I haven't played solid golf for a full tournament in a while so it's nice to play three good rounds in a row."
Small's 54-hole total of 200 tied his own record set at the 2010 Illinois PGA Championship on the South Course at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. His 16-under-par also set a record for the Championship in relation to par.
"The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame induction last year was a big thing for me," said Small when asked about his Championship records. "It was a reality check for me and I started to look back on my career and it's pretty cool to see those things."
Garrett Chaussard, 31, PGA teaching professional at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill., carded a final round 69, good for a tie for third place at 4-under par with Curtis Malm, 36, PGA head golf professional at White Eagle Golf Club in Naperville, Ill., who had his third consecutive round under par.
Small and Malm, along with the top 8 finishers in the 92nd Illinois PGA Championship, will receive an exemption to play in the 48th PGA Professional National Championship (PPNC), which will be contested June 21-24, 2015 at the Philadelphia (Pa.) Cricket Club. The low 20 scorers in the PPNC will advance to the 97th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc. Small is exempt from qualifying as a past champion of the PPNC and Malm is exempt based on his T-16 finish in the 2014 PPNC.