Coach Mike Small’s University of Illinois men’s golf team hasn’t been the powerhouse this season that it had been during most of the last two decades.
Things changed for the Illini in a big way at this crucial point of the season, however.
The Illini tied for the title in their first tournament, then went seven straight events without a victory before winning their last two in commanding fashion. They expanded a one-stroke lead to eight in the final round of the Boilermaker Invitational on Purdue’s home course two weeks ago, then defended their title in Ohio State’s Kepler Invitational on Sunday by expanding a seven-stroke lead to 13 in a rousing final round..
Adrien Dumont de Chassart, a senior from Belgium, enjoyed a big two weeks. He captured his third collegiate victory at Purdue, then was named to the International team for the second time in the Palmer Cup, a high profile team event that’ll be played July 1-3 in Switzerland.
De Chassart played in the event in 2021 when the Palmer Cup was held at Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove. He’ll become the second Illini to play in two Palmer Cups, fellow Belgian Thomas Detry being the first in 2014 and 2015.
Topping off his big two-week stretch, de Chassart was named the co-Big Ten Player of the Week thanks to his victory at Purdue and joined fellow senior Tommy Kuhl in a tie for third place to spur the win at Ohio State.
While his star player was picking up those honors Small made a rare competitive appearance while the college season was still in progress. He tied for 33rd in last week’ s PGA Professional Championship in Texas, an event he had won it three times. While his finish wasn’t good enough to crack the Class of 20 who qualified for next month’s PGA Championship in Oklahoma, it was good enough for the 55-year old Small to finish the highest among the 11 Illinois PGA members who qualified for the national championship.
Amidst the team’s strong play the school also announced a June 3 date for the Grand Opening of the Atkins Golf Club, the renamed and much renovated new home of Illinois’ men’s and women’s teams.
The wins at Purdue and Ohio State gave the Illini momentum going into the three-day Big Ten championships, which tee off on Friday on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick, Ind., and the NCAA tournament, which concludes the season.
The Illini have won the last six Big Ten titles and 11 of the last 12, and they’ve made 13 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament during Small’s 21 seasons at the helm.
HERE AND THERE: Mistwood, in Romeoville, has announced that the 27th Illinois Women’s Open will be played there July 25-26 with a format change. The event will be reduced from 54 to 36 holes.
Mistwood also announced that Angelica Carman has been hired as the sustainability specialist. Her first project will be to establish The Farm at Mistwood.
Hickory Knoll, a nine-hole course in Lake Villa that was closed the last two years, has announced a re-opening on May 6. North Shore Capital Group has acquired the course, which originally opened in 1947.
Illinois-connected PGA Tour players Dylan Wu, Nick Hardy and Doug Ghim all made the cut in the circuit’s only in-season team event last week but they were on separate teams at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Wu and Justin Lower tied for 10th, Hardy and Curtis Thompson tied for 21st and Ghim and Matthias Schwab tied for 32nd.
The Golfers on Golf Radio show will return for its 32nd season at 10 a.m. on May 7. The show will switch to WNDZ (750-AM) for this season.
The Chicago District Golf Assn. will conduct a qualifying round for its Senior Amateur on Thursday at Bloomingdale.