Men's Golf
Illini End Fall Season at Jack Nicklaus Invitational

Luke Guthrie ranks 25th in the <i>Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
Luke Guthrie ranks 25th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.

Oct. 7, 2010

Champaign, Ill. - No. 14 Illinois ends its fall season on Oct. 11-12 at the inaugural Jack Nicklaus Invitational held at the 7,140-yard, par-70 Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.

The Illini have two tournament titles in their previous three events this fall - at the Wolf Run Invitational and at last weekend's D.A. Weibring Invitational. While it does not have as deep of a field as the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational, where Illinois placed eighth out of 15 teams, the Jack Nicklaus Invitational does have some national caliber teams.

That starts at the top where Illinois will play alongside top-ranked Oklahoma State on Monday, which consists of 36 holes. The third and final round is scheduled for Tuesday. Oklahoma State won the title at Olympia Fields then topped the field at the Ping/Golfweek Preview at its home course. The Cowboys feature the top-ranked player in the country and the world's top amateur in Peter Uihlein.

The 10-team Jack Nicklaus field features five teams in the latest Golf World/Nike Coaches' poll - No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Texas, No. 14 Illinois, No. 17 USC and No. 21 LSU and five teams receiving votes - Arkansas, Kent State, Purdue, Baylor and host Ohio State.

"When you get this quality field relatively close to home, you have to take advantage of it," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "This will give us a chance to hopefully get some wins against some ranked teams."

Scioto Country Club is known as a course where Nicklaus cut his teeth in the game of golf and has hosted five major tournaments - the 1926 U.S. Open, the 1931 Ryder Cup, the 1950 PGA Championship, the 1968 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 1986 U.S. Senior Open. Next year's tournament will be played at Nicklaus' Muirfield Village, annually home to the Memorial Tournament.

Illinois is coming off a 28-stroke victory at the D.A. Weibring Invitational, the 18th team tournament title in the careers of seniors Chris DeForest and Scott Langley. DeForest won his second D.A. Weibring title individually.

"The win re-emphasized to Chris that when he puts his mind to something, he can play pretty well," Small said.

Langley, the NCAA champion, is ranked 11th in the Golfweek individual rankings, while junior Luke Guthrie checks in at No. 25. Freshman Thomas Pieters, coming off a runner-up finish at the D.A. Weibring, and sophomore Mason Jacobs once again round out the Illinois five-man line-up.

"It's been a positive fall," Small said. "We have had two good tournaments and one average tournament. The scores haven't been quite as good as I would have liked, but the courses have been tough. We want to go into the winter on a positive note. We obviously want to win, but considering this field, we want to at least play positively and see guys finish by running through the finish line."