CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) -- Seven years.
That's how long it's been since the best program at the University of Illinois right now has hosted a match on their home course but that changes on Saturday when the men's golf team plays Bradley at Stone Creek Golf Club in Urbana at 10 a.m. in a dual match meet.
"I think it's really cool that coach was able to set this up," Illinois senior Nick Hardy said.
"You're going to be comfortable, you're going to be in your element of what you do every day, you're going to wake up and just drive over to the golf course," Illinois senior Dylan Meyer said. "It's just a good feeling to be here at home."
It's the first time since April 2011 that Illinois has been able to claim a home course advantage.
"This being in town, if someone wants to come see Dylan and Nick, two of the best players we've ever had here, play on campus their senior year, come watch them play a day of golf," Illinois coach Mike Small said.
"The closest tournament we've played is Olympia Fields in the fall and this is starting to get into the prime of our season so it should be exciting and I hope we see a lot of Illini fans out there," Hardy added.
It's something that head coach Mike Small has had in mind all season. Every year the Illini are allowed 24 days of competition, this year's schedule only had 23. So when they made it until April with no missed days, Small saw the perfect opportunity.
"I want to compete," said Small. "I want to compete against somebody we don't know, against somebody that will give us a good test, that's the number one reason why we're going this. But number two, if we can do it while at the same time giving people in town a chance to come see our team, then why not do it."
And it's not like they don't want to play at home. With their success, it's smarter for them to travel to other tournaments.
"We have to realize that there are better opportunities to play against the tougher teams in the Big 12 and also in the SEC and things like that," Meyer said when asked about traveling all the time instead of playing at home. "We're just trying to get ourselves to be in the best position to compete against the best players and the best teams."
The home event also gives Illinois an opportunity to get more match play experience, the same format as the final three rounds of the NCAA Championships.
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