Illinois coach Small on verge of PGA berth

FRENCH LICK, Ind. – Can things get any better for the men’s program at the University of Illinois?

You bet.

Junior Scott Langley won the individual title at the NCAA Championship, then earned the only spot in a U.S. Open qualifier near St. Louis and went on the next week to share low-amateur honors in the Open at Pebble Beach. Now head coach Mike Small is on the verge of a national title.

Headed into Wednesday’s final round of the 43rd Professional National Championship at French Lick (Ind.) Resort, Small, the defending PNC champion and a two-time winner, leads by four strokes. Needing only 10 putts through the first 10 holes on Tuesday’s second round, Small shot a course-record, 7-under-par 65 to settle at 9-under 205 through three rounds.

Small has played in the last six PNCs and has been fourth or better every year except one, in 2008.

The top 20 finishers on Wednesday earn spots in this year’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

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