Illini, NU golfers are NCAA-bound again — as Big 10 champions

This is getting to be old hat. The University of Illinois men and Northwestern women are heading back to next month’s NCAA tournaments as Big Ten champions.

Coach Mike Small’s Illini and Emily Fletcher’s Wildcats defended their titles last weekend on Indiana courses. Illinois ruled for the seventh time in eight seasons and NU, which tied Ohio State for its title, were champions for the third time in four years.

The Illini men won dramatically. They trailed Iowa by eight strokes entering the final round, then stormed back to post a Big Ten record 838 score – four better than the previous mark set by Ohio State in 2004. Thomas Detry, who shot a final-round 64 to tie the Big Ten record, and Charlie Danielson finished one-two in the individual standings. Danielson won the Les Bolstad Award for lowest stroke average (70.7) during the season.

“This was huge for our seniors (Detry and Danielson),’’ said Small. “These have been the best four years for Illinois golf.’’

Northwestern’s Hannah Kim won the Mary Fossum Award for posting the low stroke average for Big Ten women during the season.

The NCAA regionals run May 5-7. NU is the No. 2 seed at Shoal Creek in Alabama. The Illini haven’t received their regional assignment yet.

CDGA season tees off

The Chicago District Golf Assn. tournament season tees off Wednesday (TODAY, APRIL 27) with the first of two qualifiers for the second CDGA Mid-Amateur – one of 11 championships the organization will conduct this season. The second qualifier is Monday at Village Greens of Woodridge and the final is May 16-18 at Lake Shore Country Club in Glencoe.

Monday is also the entry deadline for the first event of the CDGA’s new Net Series. The Series consists of four team and two individual handicap competitions. First of the better ball events is May 23 at Crystal Lake Country Club.

Montgomerie prepares for three-peat

Colin Montgomerie made an early appearance at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., this week to begin his quest for a third straight win in the Senior PGA Championship. That tourney — the only major championship on any of the three major tours to be played near the Chicago area this year — is May 26-29 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.

Harbor Shores hosted the tourney in both 2012 and 2014, when the Scottish-born Montgomerie won his first major title on any tour. He also won last year at French Lick in Indiana. The last player to three-peat in the Senior PGA was Hale Irwin, who won from 1996-98.

This year’s Senior PGA will have at least one notable new player in the field. John Daly will be among Montgomerie’s rivals.

Glen Club welcomes AJGA

The Glen Club, in Glenview, will host the American Junior Golf Association Preview from Friday through Sunday. It’ll feature 78 boys and girls in the 12-19 age group who want to improve their eligibility status for the AJGA’s summer tournaments.

Friday will be a practice day and the 36-hole tournament proper will consist of 18-hole rounds Saturday and Sunday. Tee times will run from 7-9 a.m. off both the Nos. 1 and 10 tees.

Instruction Day spotlights Cog Hill

The PGA of America will culminate its 100-day Centennial celebration with a series of instruction sessions to be televised on The Golf Channel next Wednesday (MAY 4). One will be broadcast from Cog Hill, in Lemont, from 3-4 p.m. with Stan Utley, Todd Sones and Kevin Weeks the instructors.

Other clubs included in the day-long series of one-hour clinics are Baltusrol, in New Jersey; Ibis, in Florida; Keeton Park and Fossil Trace, in Colorado; and TPC Harding Park, in California.

Illinois lands eight Evans Scholars

The Western Golf Association has awarded Evans Scholarships to 27 caddies who reside in Illinois and eight of them have chosen to attend the University of Illinois starting in the fall. Among them are Daniel Arias, Highland Park; Madeline Atwood, Mount Prospect; Kevin Baczek, Roselle; Clara Baumgarten, Wheaton; Daniel Benson, Countryside; Angela Bogusz, DesPlaines, Nicholas Castelli, Highland Park; and Antonino Conte, Addison.

Others selected from the Herald area include Andrew Christopher, of Glenview, who will attend the University of Colorado; Dante Bruno of Elmwood Park (Purdue); Katlin Coy of Glenview (Marquette); Claire DeRosa of Park Ridge (Wisconsin) and Alison Dobbins of Crystal Lake (Indiana).