Illinois makes it back-to-back Big 10 titles
Having won three of their last four events by at least 13 shots, the Illinois men's golf team looked ready to run away with their second consecutive Big 10 Championship Sunday at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independance, Minn.
But the Illini snuck away instead.
The Illinois, No. 8 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, started the day with a 16-shot lead and hung on to a three-shot, wire-to-wire victory over 55th-ranked Iowa.
The Illini shot a final-round 11-over 295 for a four-round total of 21-over 1,157, placing three individuals in the top 10. Iowa, ensuring their selection Monday to the NCAA regionals, closed in 2-under 282 for a 1,160 total, three shots ahead of third-place Northwestern.
It was Illinois' sixth victory of the year, and fourth in just over the last month. The Illini won the FAU Spring Break Championship by 18 shots March 28, the Crooked Stick Invitational by 15 shots April 20 and the Boilermaker Invitational by 13 shots April 25.
Northwestern junior David Lipsky made three consecutive birdies on the back nine and shot a final-round even-par 71 to finish at 3-under 281 and win the individual title by two shots over Michigan's Matt Thompson (73), who was tied with Lipsky entering the day. Iowa' Barrett Kelpin (72) finished another shot back in third.
"I put myself in chance to win a couple of tournaments earlier in the year, but I didn't get the wins," Lipsky, No. 146 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, said of his second career title. "I learned from those and I'm pretty happy those experiences helped me win this one."
Leading Illinois was sophomore Luke Guthrie, who shot a final-round 71 and finished fourth, five shots back of Lipsky. Senior Zack Barlow (78) tied for seventh and junior Chris DeForest (72), who had won the individual title in three of his last four events, tied for 10th. Scott Langley, at No. 24 the highest-ranked Illinois player in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, struggled to a final-round 80 and finished tied for 24th.
NCAA regional bids will be announced May 10 for play May 20-22 at six sites: Alpharetta, Ga.; Bryan, Texas; New Haven, Conn.; Notre Dame, Ind.; Santee, Calif.; and Bremerton, Wash.
The NCAA Championship is June 1-6 at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.