Oct. 22, 1999
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - When a coach has lost as much experience as Illini men's golf coach Ed Beard did last year, he'll go anywhere to look for more talent. Even Down Under. In Beard's case, when he went looking for a golfer in the land of The Shark, Greg Norman, he came away with a pair of young Aussies who figure to make a large impact on the Big Ten fairways over the next few years. Geoff Lound and Anthony Heazlewood, both freshmen on the Illini squad and both native Australians, have spent their first few months living in the states, getting accustomed not only to the rigors of NCAA golf, but also to the rigors of taking up residence thousands of miles away from home. Luckily for them they've got each other.
"I'm doing a lot better than I would be if I didn't have Geoff here," says Heazlewood, who hails from Tasmania and attended Hobart Prep. He shares a room at Bromley Hall with Lound, who was originally from New South Wales Australia and attended Castle Hill Prep. It's nice to have someone from Australia to help you get to used to everything, not just golf."
"It really was just a coincidence that we both came there, but now that were here, I'd say it's better off that way," says Lound, "It's hard adjusting to the way of life and to the different way they practice and play golf over here. Having someone else from Australia has made it much easier."
Actually it may not have been all luck that both men ended up here.
"We were originally recruiting Geoff, and I know a guy over there who knows what's going on, so I asked him if he had anybody else that was worth taking a look at," said Coach Beard. "He recommended Anthony, and I took him sight unseen because I needed another player. It's worked out well for us."
Either way, before they came to Illinois Anthony and Geoff did know each other a little bit.
"We played against each other in some tournaments in Australia so we kind of knew each other," says Lound.
The fact that they ended up together at Illinois has been a blessing for Beard. With the graduation of three seniors off last year's squad, the Illini are a very inexperienced team who struggled through their fall schedule, which concluded in mid-October at the Louisville Intercollegiate Tournament.
All in all...
The Illini played four tournaments this fall, only breaking into the upper division as a team at the Northern Intercollegiate Invitational, finishing sixth out of the 13 teams that competed.
"We were a very good team last year and we are well down from that," says Beard. "We're a little short on players with experience and we have guys who need more time to develop. If we can add a player or two next year to what we have, then we can probably be pretty good. Anthony and Geoff are very talented and will play a lot.
Aside from their obvious talent, the pair seems to go well together off the golf course.
"Anthony's more laid-back and Geoff's more of a serious guy," comments Beard, "They're very compatible and since they room together, if they're homesick, they can be homesick together, too."
"We've found that we share a lot of the same interests and we've got along quite well," says Lound.
The pair has a similar respect for each other's golf game.
"Anthony is a very good golfer, technically," says Geoff, "He has clear goals as to where he wants to be and is very competitive.
Anthony responds likewise, "He's got very good technique and he can hit the ball a long way. We're both just trying to cement a place in the lineup."
They seem to be on their way to doing that now that the fall season has come to an end and the duo begins to look towards next spring. Lound played in all four tournaments this fall, placing his highest at the Falcon-Cross Creek Invitational, where he shot a three-over 219, good enough to take 11th place overall. Heazlewood didn't play in the first two tournaments, but broke into the lineup at the Purina Challenge in Columbia, Mo., and then had a good tournament to finish up the fall at Louisville, where he shot a nine-over 153 to finish 35th overall.
"Geoff came in a little further along in his game than Anthony, but Anthony has made some huge improvements lately," says Beard.
Lound struggled in his last outing, shooting an 86 the second day to end up at 163, 19 over par.
"Anytime you have young players, there will be some ups and downs," Beard says, "It'll take a year for these guys to get adjusted, but they're going to be a big part of our program."
So far, Lound and Heazlewood have adjusted to their teammates in the program without a problem.
"We're a young team," says Lound, "But we've been all right. Right now everybody's just playing, seeing how everything goes, and getting ready for the spring tournaments.
"It's good to go to these fall tournaments and see what it's like and see all the other players and how good they are," Heazlewood adds, "Everybody on the team has gotten along very well. And Coach is great, you always know where you stand with him."
"They're both wonderful young men and I think the world of them," Beard says, "They have an outstanding work ethic and outstanding personalities."
So with the fall season all done and lots of room for improvement all around, this Australian duo looks forward to the spring and more chances to prove itself. But, not before the guys get to experience --brrrr!--, their first Illinois winter. Enough to make anybody want to head to Australia. But what else do the guys miss about home?
"Hmm, that's a tough question," ponders Anthony, "What do you think Geoff?"
"I miss all my friends," answers Geoff.
"Yeah, I think I miss the food most," says Anthony.
"What, the cafeteria doesn't cut it?"
"Not really," replies Anthony.
A plight Illinois students from Naperville to Sydney can all attest to.