Illinois, Northwestern's David Nyfjäll win Big Ten titles
Courtesy of Illinois Athletics
It was survival of the fittest on Sunday at the Big Ten Championships at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick (Ind.) Resort and for the seventh consecutive time, Illinois came away with the conference title.
Battling windy conditions for three days, the Illini finished the event with a 54-hole total of 885 (+21), which was good for a one-stroke victory over Michigan State while Maryland finished two off the pace. Overall, it marks the 19th Big Ten Championship for the Illini.
"If golf can have a 'slobber-knocker' this was it," said Illini head coach Mike Small. "(It came down to) who can survive to the end and not make any more bogeys coming in to avoid the big numbers, and we did that at the end. You win a lot of championships in golf, specifically, by not losing it yourself and by staying steady. Under these conditions, that's about as steady as we could have stayed, and it turned out to be one (stroke) enough."
Illinois entered the day one stroke behind the Spartans but carded a final round 307 (+19) to Michigan State's 309 (+21) to come away with the win by a single stroke.
"The biggest opponent was the wind," Small added. "The thing that we had to do was stay in the present, stay in the next shot and put our energy out in front of us. If you put all the energy on yourself in these conditions, and you're worried about yourself, the more you try to control it the harder it becomes. You've got to send it out into the window that you've envisioned and then you have to be strong on the greens. Putting was tough because the ball was oscillating on the greens a lot. These are good players and the scores we counted today are pretty high, so it just shows you how tough it was.
"I'm just happy for these guys and the way that they put up with the expectations of a long winning streak and embrace them. And to come in and not have a great week, top-to-bottom, but still play solid enough to win."
Northwestern senior David Nyfjäll fired a 1-under 215 to win the individual championship. He was the only golfer in the 72-man field to finish the weekend under par, becoming Northwestern's first medalist at the event since David Lipsky (2010) and Eric Chun (2009) went back-to-back for the 'Cats.
Illinois Athletic Communications contributed to this report.
ABOUT THE Big Ten Championship
54 hole men's collegiate championship of the
Big Ten Conference. Team (best four scores out of
players each round) and individual competitions.
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