A decade after its last appearance at TPC Myrtle Beach, the University of Illinois men’s golf team is making the most of its return engagement.
Paced by individual leader Adrien Dumont de Chassart (-5) and Michael Feagles’ T2 performance (-4), the Fighting Illini (-9) finished Round 1 of Monday’s Myrtle Beach Regional of the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship five shots clear of the field.
Second-place Ohio State (-4) was led by rounds of 68 from Caleb Ramirez and Will Voetsch on the Tom Fazio/Lanny Wadkins design, while Wake Forest and Florida State finished the day tied for third (-2) and as the only other teams to break par.
Among the second-place individual finishers was host school Coastal Carolina’s Zack Taylor, whose 68 puts him in prime position to advance to the NCAA Finals, to be contested May 24-29 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. As with the other five regionals, the low five teams and low individual not on those teams will advance.
Illinois, which in 2009 finished 13th in a 14-team field at the General James Hackler Championship at TPC Myrtle Beach, flipped the script this time around. At a course softened a touch by Sunday’s rain, Head Coach Mike Small’s squad took full advantage of Monday’s scoring conditions.
“The pins were tough today, (and) the wind came up,” Small said. “(But) if you played with discipline and got the ball in the fairway and on the correct sides of the greens, you could play well.”
“I just tried to strong side myself on every hole, and tried to avoid stupid mistakes,” said the Illini’s de Chassart in recounting his first-round score of 67. “My short game’s been pretty good, and my putting very good. I hit a lot of long putts today, so that helped a lot.”
Looking ahead to Rounds 2 and 3, de Chassart likes his team’s chances of continuing its strong play and extending its season another week.
“We’re just going to try playing like we did today, and like at the Big 10 (Championships),” said de Chassart. “There’s a good vibe on the team right now, everyone’s playing well. We’ve been practicing the whole year to get ready for the (NCAA) Regionals and Finals, so we’ll just continue to grind.”