Illinois looks to bounce back at USF Invitational

Alex Burge and the Illinois men's golf team will play their first stroke play event of the spring at the USF Invitational.

Men's Rankings »

1Casey FernandezSo. Miss.  66.31 
2Tomasz AndersonJ'Ville St  67.12 
3Chase KoepkaUSF-Bulls  67.27 
4Hunter StewartVanderbilt  67.27 
5Maverick McNealyStanford  67.32 

Men's Team Rankings »

1South Florida 68.18 
2Illinois 68.90 
3SE Louisiana 69.66 
4Florida State 69.78 
5Baylor 69.89 

The Illinois Fighting Illini headline a strong field that will tee off at the USF Invitational Sunday through Tuesday at the Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club in Dade City, Fla.

Illinois will be competing in its first stroke play event of the spring season after making a first round exit from the Big Ten Match Play Championship.

Air Force, Auburn (No. 24), Cincinnati, College of Charleston, DePaul, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Florida State (No. 19), Illinois (No. 5), Marquette, Memphis (No. 40), Mercer (No. 39), Ohio State, Purdue (No. 43), South Florida (No. 28), UNCG and Wisconsin.

"I stand by what I've said that Big Ten Match Play was a positive trip for us. Even though we didn't win the tournament, it was a positive trip. Now it's important for us to get in the mentality of winning, the mentality of shooting low scores and starting to build our body of work. But we need to go down with the mentality that we're going to compete at a high level," Illinois head coach Mike Small said in a release.

The field includes seven teams listed in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings' top 50.

"It's a good field and it's a big field. We like it because it's a three-day event so we can play 18 (holes) each day and get some practice in along the way, which is good this time of year," Small said. "There are some top southern schools there so we can gauge ourselves against them but also keep making progress toward our ultimate goal of getting our games in order."

South Florida, the host team, is led by Chase Koepka, the No. 22 individual in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.

North Carolina State won the tournament last year, but will not be returning it defend its title.

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