CHICAGO – When it comes to powerhouse college programs, the Texas Longhorns and, more recently, the Illinois Fighting Illini have become fixtures at the top of the rankings.
After 72 holes of stroke play was complete Thursday at the Western Amateur, three Longhorns and three Illini advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the 112th championship at The Beverly Country Club.
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Rising sophomore Beau Hossler, incoming freshmen Doug Ghim and Scottie Scheffler
Hossler, 19, who has two Western Sweet 16 appearances under his belt now, was paired with future teammate Scheffler in the third and final rounds of the Western and said he felt “comfortable” out there.
“He’s a great competitor and a great friend as well,” Hossler added.
When it came down to scorecards, Hossler outplayed Scheffler by two shots at end the stroke-play portion of the tournament. It matters as an individual now, but come the beginning of September, if these players are playing like they are now – look out college-golf world.
“… I think our team is very deep, which is nice,” Hossler said. “Even guys that didn’t make the 16 here are still excellent players and can go out and win any given golf tournament. It’s going to be a fun year and good competition in between our own team for events.”
Scheffler agreed with Hossler and chimed in on his future teammates, but added this about Western stroke-play medalist, U.S. Amateur Public Links runner-up and future teammate Ghim: “Doug’s a great player and has been pretty hot this summer. I’m really excited to be able to play with him and all of the other guys this year.”
“It’s awesome,” Ghim said of three Longhorns advancing to Friday. “I’m sure coach Fields is somewhere smiling jumping up and down. … It’s why I picked Texas. We push each other to get better and it’s really cool to be a part of a team like that.”
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Rising senior Brian Campbell, rising junior Charlie Danielson, incoming freshman Nick Hard
Campbell, who was last season’s Big Ten Player of Year, won’t see his team as the underdog anymore for the 2014-15 season. And after consecutive years of making it to match play at the NCAA Championships, no one else should either.
“We’re going to have a solid team this year. We’re going to have a good atmosphere on the team and I’m really excited,” Campbell, 21, said. “We’re going to have guys battling for the last spot in the lineup and that hasn’t happened recently in the past. We’ve just had our set lineup and we needed our strong four to come through at each event, but now we’re going to be a lot deeper this year and it’s going to be fun.”
All three players are making their Sweet 16 debuts at the Western.
For Danielson, he isn’t the flashiest of players, but can get the job done when need be. He tied for first at the Big Ten Championships in 2014.
“We expect ourselves to play that well I think,” Campbell said about his other teammates in the field.
Hardy, 18, will be exposed to a whole new culture in Champaign, Ill., and will be able to compete for a spot on the talented team.
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Regardless of the outcome this week at the Western, be on the lookout for Texas and Illinois to make noise early and often during the college golf season, which gets underway in less than a month.