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Illinois dominates Big Ten Men’s Golf Championship

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Illinois’ performance at the 2015 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championship was a microcosm of its play at the conference level for the past seven years: a display of dominance.

The Fighting Illini, ranked No. 2 team in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, capped a 32-shot victory Sunday at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind., placing five golfers among the top 11 and finishing as the only team under par at the 72-hole event.

“I’m ecstatic for the team win,” head coach Mike Small said in a release. “This was a goal for us at the beginning of the year and we had been building up for this all spring.”

The conference title is Illinois’ sixth in the past seven seasons and its 14th in program history.

Freshman Nick Hardy led the Illini, taking co-medalist honors along with Iowa’s Carson Schaake two weeks after tying for 29th at the Boilermaker Invitational.

“It’s great for Nick to win the tournament after struggling last week at Purdue, he came here this week and took care of business,” said Small. “He played hard and won and that is a big plus for our program. It shows the resiliency that these kids have.”

Four Illinois players earned top-10 finishes: Junior Thomas Detry tied for third, senior Brian Campbell tied for fifth and freshman Dylan Meyer tied for seventh. Hardy and Schaake were even at the final hole of the tournament, but came away sharing the win after both players made bogey.

“I love that it came down to the last shot,” Hardy said in a release. “I love the competition and seeing what I’ve got coming down the stretch. I just stayed in the moment and tried to hang around until the end. It feels great to have a team championship also, I can’t wait to go get another one.”

The Big Ten medalist or co-medalist has come from Illinois in each of the past five seasons.

Illinois ended the week at 14-under 1,138. Iowa finished in second at 18 over, while Minnesota and Penn State tied for third at 29 over.

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