NORMAN, Okla. — On a windy Saturday, Mike Small's Illinois golf team remained in elite company.
The Illini shot a final-round 296 to tie Florida State for third place at the Norman Regional. More important for Illinois, it advanced to the NCAA Championships, which open May 29 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Illinois is one of five golf programs to make the last five finals, joining Florida, Texas, Texas A&M and Southern Cal.
"It was a survival day and adversity hit us early, but we persevered again and really had a strong showing," Small said.
The top five teams from each regional advance to the finals. The Illini never fell out of the top five during Saturday's final round but were tied for the final spot at different points.
Illinois' Thomas Pieters finished second in the individual race, losing by 1 stroke when Washington's Chris Williams eagled No. 18. Two other Illini finished in the top 10, with Luke Guthrie tying for seventh and Brian Campbell tying for 10th.