No. 8 Illinois hung tough on an extremely windy day at the par-72, 7,152-yard Pete Dye Course, and stands tied for second with Purdue heading into Sunday’s final round of the 2014 Big Ten Championships. Sophomore Charlie Danielson posted the day’s best individual round with his even-par 72 and also sits in second place, three shots behind Minnesota’s Jose Mendez. The Gophers lead the Illini and Boilermakers by seven shots after posting Saturday’s best team score with a 13-over-par 301.
“The wind was blowing a lot harder today than yesterday and it affected a lot of things, but it affected all the teams; it wasn’t just us,” Illini head coach Mike Small said. “It took some thought to keep the hole in front of you, to stay in play, and we hit some shots behind the pins that may have been good swings but they weren’t good shots. And we still didn’t putt very well. That’s something we have to figure out tonight heading into tomorrow, is we’ve got to make some more putts.
“We didn’t make enough pars. We maybe got too aggressive trying to make some birdies and got flustered a little bit. It was difficult out there.”
In each of the previous five Big Ten Championships, the Illini held the lead after 54 holes and went on to win the title. This year, Illinois will have to overcome a pair of talented squads in Minnesota and Purdue. The Orange and Blue tee off Sunday’s final round alongside the Golden Gophers at 8:20 a.m. CT.
“It’s an opportunity to win a tournament in a different way. We’ve won it going into the final round with the lead all those years, so now it’s time to come from behind. But we need to play better. We need to come out as the aggressor and on top of our games, and not protecting anything.”
Danielson’s 72 on the day was one of the lone bright spots for the Illini, as they didn’t count any other scores better than a 77. Sophomore Thomas Detry posted a 5-over-par 77 and senior Jonathan Hauter carded a 78 after stumbling down the stretch and playing his final eight holes at +5. Sophomore David Kim recorded an 81 and Brian Campbell posted an 82, marking the first time this year that Illinois hasn’t counted Campbell’s score as part of its team score.
Campbell is tied for 14th at +11, while Detry stands tied for 20th at +13. Hauter is +14, leaving him tied for 24th, and Kim is tied for 46th at +18. To mark how the difficult course and high winds affected the field, 20 of the 60 golfers recorded scores in the 80s and one posted a 91.