NU golfers show Illini aren’t invincible in the Big Ten

Illinois’ record eight-year run as the Big Ten champion in men’s golf is over.  Northwestern, led by medalist Daniel Svard, was a winner by 15 strokes at Ohio’s Scioto Country Club on Sunday with the Illini second.

Both schools will get their regional assignments in the NCAA tournament today on The Golf Channel’s Selection Show.

“Hats off to Northwestern,’’ said Illini coach Mike Small.  “They controlled the narrative from Day 1. Nobody else played to that level. They had four guys in the top 10.  We didn’t have much answer for that.’’

Svard, a sophomore, won the individual title for the second straight year and was NU’s third multiple winner following Sid Richardson (1937-38) and Luke Donald (2000-01). It was the Wildcats’ first team title since 2006.

Illinois junior Jackson Buchanan was second individually, finishing one stroke behind Svard’s 1-over par 211 in the 54-hole test.

OPEN LOCALS: The two Chicago area local qualifiers for June’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, N.C., are now official.

Northern Illinois alum Bryce Emory, the 2020 Illinois Open champion from Aurora, and new Butler National head professional Andrew Svoboda shared medalist honors last week at Stonewall Orchard in Gurnee and Hinsdale’s Mac McClear dominated Monday’s session at Cantigny in Wheaton.

David Nyfjall, a Northwestern alum from Sweden, and Charlie Nikitas, of Glenview, survived a four-man playoff for the final two berths in the final qualifying stage at Stonewall and Libertyville’s Graham O’Connor Brooks and Bloomington’s T.J. Barger were among five players sharing second place at Cantigny.

McClear, a Big Ten medalist twice at Iowa, shot a five-under-par 67 in his Open qualifier, was five strokes better than his nearest rivals.

Final qualifiers begin on May 20 to decide the 156 finalists for the Open proper at Pinehurst, N.C. on June 13-16.

HERE AND THERE:  Nick Hardy’s title defense with partner Davis Riley in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans ended with the pair finishing in a tie for 28th place on Sunday.  Hardy, from Northbrook, had local company at that spot.  Arlington Heights’ Doug Ghim, paired with Chan Kim, and Northwestern alum Dylan Wu, playing with Justin Lower, also were in the group tied for 28th.  Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry won the PGA Tour’s lone annual two-man team event.

Winnetka’s Elizabeth Szokol, Illinois only LPGA Tour player, tied for 61st in the Jim Eagle LA Championship.  Szokol has survived the 36-hole cut in six of her eight starts in 2024 with a best finish of a tie for 30th in the season-opening Tournament of Champions.

Northwestern has earned a spot in the women’s NCAA tourney, which begins its three-day regional run on Monday in East Lansing, Mich.  Illinois didn’t qualify as a team but senior Isabel Sy will compete there as an individual.

The first of the Illinois PGA’s four major tournaments – the Match Play Championship – tees off on Monday at Bull Valley, in Woodstock. Chris French, of Aldeen in Rockford, is the defending champion.

Twelve IPGA members, among them French and Svoboda, are competing in the PGA Professional Championship this week in Texas.  Illinois has the fifth-most  players in the 312-man field among the PGA’s 41 sections.  The tourney ends today and the top 20 qualify for the PGA Championship May 13-19 at Valhalla, in Kentucky.

The Chicago District Golf Assn. will hold a qualifier for its Senior Mid Amateur on Wednesday at Bloomingdale and the first qualifier for its Mid Am Thursday  at Kankakee Elks.