No. 6 Illinois splits rounds on final day of Big Ten Match Play; beats Ohio State
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Illinois salvaged a 2-2-1 victory against Ohio State - because the Illini won nine holes compared to seven for the Buckeyes - in the seventh-place match of the Big Ten Match Play Championships Saturday at The Concession Golf Club, a par-72, 7,177-yard course. This came after the Illini dropped a 2-1-2 decision to Minnesota in the morning consolation semifinal match. Eighth-seeded Michigan won the tournament after defeating Purdue in a playoff in the championship match.
"It was a tough weekend," Illinois head coach Mike Small said. "We didn't have our best. At certain times, guys played well, but overall it was a sporadic tournament. But we're in the first inning of the season, to compare it to a baseball game. This is just starting out and there are things that we're going to correct and move on.
In the morning match with the Gophers, Brian Campbell earned the Illini's only victory, 4 and 3 against Jose Mendez. Starting on the back nine, Campbell won five of the first eight holes to grab a commanding 5-up lead, then extended his margin to 6-up with a win on the par-4 2nd hole. Mendez won on holes 4 and 5 but when the pair halved the par-3 6th hole, the match was over.
Thomas Detry fell behind 2-down at the turn to Jon DuToit before rallying with wins on holes Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to go 1-up with six to go. The pair halved the next five holes with both golfers playing to par, before DuToit won the final hole to halve the match. At the No. 5 position, Jonathan Hauter halved with Matt Rachey. Rachey led 2-up at the turn but Hauter battled back with hole victories on the 10th and 11th holes of the match to square things up. Hauter also won the par-3 4th hole to take his first lead, but Rachey got it back on the 5th. Hauter won the 600-yard par-5 seventh hole and the pair halved the 17th, but Rachey made birdie on the final hole to halve the match.
Sophomore Charlie Danielson looked to capitalize off his win on Friday and started well, taking a 1-up lead on Alex Gaugert through five holes. Gaugert squared up the match with a win on the seventh hole before Danielson heated up, winning the next three to go 3-up through 10. Gaugert got one back on the 11th and the pair halved the next two holes, leaving Danielson 2-up with five to go. But he dropped three of those final five holes as the Gopher senior took a 1-up victory.
In the No. 4 position, David Kim fell behind 3-down to Jon Trasamar but won the seventh and eighth holes to pull within one. Trasamar won three of the next four holes, though, going 4-up with six to go and Kim could only win the 14th hole as Trasamar took a 3 and 2 win.
In the afternoon, Kim rebounded with a string of six consecutive hole victories despite losing the second hole, to lead 5-up through eight. OSU's Michael Bernard won the ninth hole but Kim won three of the next four to seal his 7 and 5 victory. But at the No. 1 position, Buckeye junior Boo Timko returned the favor against Campbell, winning five of the first six holes. The pair halved the next five and Timko won the 12th hole before halving the 13th to take a 6 and 5 victory against Campbell.
Junior Alex Burge battled through a back-and-forth match with OSU freshman Clark Engle, eventually pulling ahead 3-up with four holes remaining. Engle won the 16th hole but Burge got the 2 and 1 win. At the No. 2 spot, Detry tried to battle back late but Frederik Hammer took the 1-up.
With the match tied 2-2, Danielson trailed 2-down to OSU sophomore Tee-K Kelly after 10 holes. But the Illini sophomore rebounded by winning three of the next four holes to grab a 1-up lead. Kelly won the 15th hole, though, squaring up the match, and the duo ended up halving the match.