WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Illinois men’s golf team has been one of the most consistent programs in the country the last decade but the Illini find themselves on the outside of the NCAA Championships bubble looking in after two rounds at the West Lafayette Regional. Illinois sits five shots back of fifth place, the cutoff to advance.
“We’ve had days like this this year, too many honestly,” Illinois junior Nick Hardy said. “So I feel like tomorrow we just got to put our heads together and not take no for an answer. We’re not going home, that’s the fact of it.”
No Illini shot under par on Tuesday, Hardy’s 72 was the best round. After shooting 68 in the opening round, Edoardo Lipparelli was +7 and sits in a tie for 23rd place individually after 36 holes. Dylan Meyer and Giovanni Tadiotto both carded 74, while freshman Michael Feagles shot 76.
“You can’t have these days,” Illinois head coach Mike Small said about his team’s effort. “We’ve had these days throughout the year and we’ve talked about it. You can’t have these in postseason time because the season will end on you.”
The Illini put themselves in trouble most of the day off the tee box, forcing them to scramble just to save par on most holes.
“We just didn’t drive the ball like we should and we got to get the ball in the fairway here,” Hardy said. “You don’t do that and you’re putting yourself in defensive situations. The guys that are getting it done are in the fairway and hitting shots close to the hole and that’s what you gotta do.”
“We had five or six balls in the water today and didn’t handle the conditions very well off the tee like you said, so that’s something that we have to get better at tomorrow or it’s going to be a short postseason,” Small added.
And when the Illini did have a chance to get a red number, the putts just wouldn’t fall.
“Golf is a funny game,” said Hardy. “I feel like everything evens out in the end so tomorrow I fell like us being one of the better teams here, I think we got to prove it obviously tomorrow, but I think they’ll fall for us tomorrow. I really do.”