Karl Vilips (Stanford Athletics photo)
The Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club has long been an early season measuring stick for some of the top teams in the nation to test themselves on a historic venue.
With 11 of the 15 teams in this year's field either ranked or receiving votes in the first GCAA Coaches Top-25 Poll, including each of the last four national title winners in Texas (2022), Pepperdine (2021), Stanford (2019), and Oklahoma State (2018), the 2022 OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational field is once again one of the fall's strongest.
Stanford has had its fair share of success at Olympia Fields over the years, winning the team title in 2011 and producing five medalists in Patrick Rodgers (2011, 2012), Cameron Wilson (2013), and Maverick McNealy (2014, 2015).
Behind a 5-under 65 by junior Karl Vilips
, the 15th-ranked Cardinal is once again off to a fast start at Olympia Fields, as Stanford turned in a tournament-record 10-under round of 270 on Friday to take the first-round lead by a shot over host Illinois.
In addition to Vilips sparkling 65, the Cardinal also counted a 67 by former Western Amateur champion Michael Thorbjornsen
, a 68 by GB&I Walker Cup team member Barclay Brown
and an even par 70 by fifth-year senior Ethan Ng.
Led by fifth-year seniors Adrien Dumont de Chassart
and Tommy Kuhl
, the host Illini virtually matched the Cardinal shot-for-shot on Thursday, tallying a 9-under 271 in the opening round.
Dumont de Chassart shares the first-round lead with Vilips at 5-under while Kuhl is tied for second with Thorbjornsen at 3-under. The Illini also counted a 69 by Matthis Besard
and an even par 70 by Piercen Hunt
The Florida Gators, ranked third in Golfweek's preseason poll, are seven back of Stanford after opening with a 3-under round of 277. With 2-under rounds of 68, Ricky Castillo
and Yuxin Lin
were the only two Gators in red numbers and are tied for fifth place on the individual leaderboard.
Stanford, Illinois and North Carolina were the only three teams that managed to break par on Friday.
Second-ranked North Carolina had a tough day at Olympia Fields, carding a 10-over round of 290, leaving the Tar Heels tied for 11th place.
The OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational continues with second and third-round action over the weekend.
ABOUT THE Fighting Illini Invitational
54-hole elite collegiate event hosted at Olympia
Country Club by the University of Illinois. Olympia
Fields has hosted the 2015 U.S. Amateur. two U.S.
Opens, two PGA Championships, five Western Opens
and a U.S. Senior Open.
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