Illinois opened its season Sunday with a third consecutive victory at the Wolf Run Invitational. The Illini, No. 18 in Golfweek’s preseason rankings, ran away with the championship, beating runners-up Central Florida and Ball State by 19 shots.
The Illini opened up a seven-shot lead after posting team scores of 290 and 288 in the opening two rounds. Illinois then posted a 3-under 281 in the final round to finish at 7-over 859. Ball State and UCF were at 26-over 878.
“We did exactly what we needed to do with a lead and that’s play solid golf and build on it,” said Illinois head coach Mike Small. “We had all five guys show up and help us and put four guys in the top 15 despite having two new guys in the lineup. If we can continue to get production out of those guys, this could be the first leg to something special.”
Tulsa finished solo fourth at 28-over 880, while host Indiana and Northwestern rounded out the top 5 at 882.
Connor Arendell, a junior at UCF, easily won the individual title with his 5-under 280. Arendell opened with back-to-back rounds of 2-under 69 before shooting 70 in the final round. Ball State senior Eric Steger was second at 1-under 212. Arendell and Steger were the only competitors to finish the tournament under par.
Illinois got a big push from senior Scott Langley, the defending NCAA champion, and junior Luke Guthrie, who finished T-3 at even-par 213. Mason Jacobs (T-11) and Thomas Picters (T-15) also put up strong showings.
Kevin Phelan, a sophomore at North Florida, was fifth at 2-over 215.
–Information from Illinois Athletics used in this report.