Pieters, Danielson named PING All-Americans

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release)  - On the same day as his professional debut, former Illini Thomas Pieters was named a third-team PING All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America Thursday. Joining Pieters on the All-America teams was Illini Charlie Danielson, who earned honorable mention All-America honors after finishing in the top 15 in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championships. It marks the third-straight year that Illinois has had multiple PING All-Americans, after Pieters and Luke Guthrie earned the honors in 2012, and Guthrie, Scott Langley and Chris DeForest were All-Americans in 2011. 

Pieters' honor was announced just as he finished his first round as a professional, carding a 1-under-par 70 in the first round of the Scottish Hydro Challenge, an event on the European Challenge Tour. The top 15 finishers on the Challenge Tour receive European Tour cards at the end of the season. 

The former Illini led his squad to a season to remember in 2013, as Illinois finished second in the nation after falling to Alabama in the final match of the NCAA Championships. The Orange and Blue defeated 2012 NCAA champion Texas and top-ranked California during the match-play portion after finishing fifth in stroke play. Illinois also won the Fayetteville Regional, the program's first regional title, and earned its fifth-straight Big Ten championship in 2013.

Along the way, Pieters was named Big Ten Men's Golfer of the Year, fellow Belgian Thomas Detry was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and head coach Mike Small earned his fifth-straight and sixth career Big Ten Coach of the Year honor.

Pieters recorded the fourth-best season stroke average in school history with a 71.38 mark over 34 rounds. He notched a team-best 16 rounds under par and four even-par rounds, and his 72.35 career stroke average ranks second in Illinois history, just behind Guthrie's school-record 72.08 from 2008-12.

Danielson showed flashes of brilliance throughout his rookie campaign, posting three top-10 finishes and six top-20s. He won his matches against Texas and California in the match-play portion of the NCAA Championships and recorded nine rounds under par and four at par during the season. He recorded a 7-under-par 65 in the first round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional and also was honored by Golfweek as one of the nation's top freshmen following the fall season.

PING All-Americans
First Team
Daniel Berger, Florida State
Julien Brun, TCU
Greg Eason, UCF
James Erkenbeck, New Mexico
Max Homa, California
Michael Kim, California
Cheng-Tsung Pan, Washington
Patrick Rodgers, Stanford
Brandon Stone, Texas
Michael Weaver, California
Cory Whitsett, Alabama

Second Team
Albin Choi, NC State
Sean Dale, North Florida
Scott Fernandez, Iowa State
Pedro Figueiredo, UCLA
Brandon Hagy, California
Brinson Paolini, Duke
Joel Stalter, California
Justin Thomas, Alabama
Chris Williams, Washington
Bobby Wyatt, Alabama

Third Team
Anders Albertson, Georgia Tech
Sebastian Cappelen, Arkansas
Corey Conners, Kent State
Oliver Goss, Tennessee
Gavin Green, New Mexico
MJ Maguire, North Florida
Thomas Pieters, Illinois
Ollie Schniederjans, Georgia Tech
Pontus Widegren, UCLA
Cameron Wilson, Stanford

Honorable Mention
Evan Beck, Wake Forest
Zac Blair, BYU
Dominic Bozzelli, Auburn
Rodolfo Cazaubon, North Texas
Yi Keun Chang, Southern California
Mario Clemens, SMU
Charlie Danielson, Illinois
Ian Davis, Oklahoma State
Tyler Dunlap, Texas A&M
Nicolas Echavarria, Arkansas
Jonathan Garrick, UCLA
Jonathan Grey, Georgia State
Cody Gribble, Texas
Rick Lamb, Tennessee
Denny McCarthy, Virginia
Tyler McCumber, Florida
Matthew NeSmith, South Carolina
Jordan Niebrugge, Oklahoma State
Kevin Penner, UNLV
Jack Perry, Northwestern
Kevin Phelan, North Florida
Jon Rahm, Arizona State
Seth Reeves, Georgia Tech
Chase Seiffert, Florida State
Sam Smith, Southern California
Sebastian Soderberg, Coastal Carolina
Scott Strohmeyer, Alabama

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