Charlie Danielson tied for 10th in his first collegiate tournament at Wolf Run.
Sept. 21, 2012
Champaign, Ill. - Fresh off a tournament victory at the Wolf Run Invitational, Illinois travels just up the road to compete in the D.A. Weibring Invitational, hosted by Illinois State University. The 15-team field includes three from the Big Ten, with Nebraska and Wisconsin joining the Illini, and several other schools from the Midwest.
Overall, Illinois head coach Mike Small was pleased with the performance of his team out the box, that includes putting six players inside the top 13 at Wolf Run and delivering the program's third straight victory at the tournament.
"I liked the way all of our guys competed," Small said. "The depth was there. That was important for us to establish. It gave us an opportunity to get to know our freshmen better and I thought they did very well in their first event. For them to come out of the box and be competitive like that and shoot consistent scores on that golf course was encouraging."
The most significant developments from week one were the consistent depth and the strong performancse by the freshmen. Illinois took seven players a week ago, five competing for the team and two more as individuals. That will be the plan again this week with junior All-American Thomas Pieters joining freshmen Charlie Danielson and Thomas Detry, sophomore Brian Campbell and senior Mason Jacobs in the line-up with freshman David Kim and sophomore Alex Burge getting a chance to compete unattached.
Three different players took turns going low at Wolf Run with Danielson shooting a 69 in his first collegiate round, Campbell shooting his first college round in the 60s (67) in round two, and Pieters finishing strong with a 67 in the final round.
The D.A. Weibring has traditionally been part of some good moments for the Illini. In 2007, Illinois posted its best round as a team in program history with a 272 and saw Chris DeForest fire a 63, the best individual 18-hole score in program history. The following year, the team scored its best 54-hole total of 831. Four of the top 10 team rounds and four of the top seven individual rounds in school history have come at the event. Scott Langley and Luke Guthrie have each shot 64 while Pieters has shot a 65.
Illinois has won its last four tournaments there -- in 2007, '08, '10, and '11. In '09, the Illini didn't compete as a team, but DeForest did so individually, posting a top-10 finish. In the fall of 2008, Illinois rose to No. 1 in the nation, winning four straight tournaments, including the Weibring.
With five of the seven players in the line-up freshman and sophomores, Small is hopeful that playing three tournaments in three weekends can help provide a springboard into the next spring, where Illinois is looking for its fifth straight Big Ten title.
"I think we can build momentum," Small concluded. "This time of the year, we want to get head-to-head wins and play solid golf courses to identify areas we need to improve. The scores last week were all consistent. Now we're looking for someone to break out, separate themselves and maybe win a tournament."
Small says the ability to shoot low will be a large part dictated by conditions.
"The course could play difficult if the greens are fast," Small said. "If the greens are receptive, you can shoot low scores there. I like the fact that we're going there to compete, but also to handle a course that provides different situations."
The complete field at the D.A. Weibring includes Bradley, Central Arkansas, Detroit Mercy, Illinois, Illinois State, Loyola, Miami (Ohio), Mississippi State, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, SIUE, Western Illinois and Wisconsin. The tournament begins Saturday morning with the competitors playing 36 holes that day and the final 18 holes Sunday morning.