The Illini are in the hunt to advance at the NCAA golf championship at the famous course in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Even better, Thomas Pieters is in line to win the individual NCAA title. Mike Small's Illini were to tee off in Round 3 at 2:40 p.m. Thursday.
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Some basic info:
WHEN: Tuesday to Sunday
FORMAT: 54 holes of stroke play Tuesday to Thursday. The top eight teams advance to match play, which starts Friday.
ILLINOIS LINEUP: Alex Burge, Brian Campbell, Luke Guthrie, Mason Jacobs, Thomas Pieters.
TEAMS TO BEAT: Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Southern Cal, Texas, UCLA.
DEFENDING CHAMP: Augusta State, which won the 2010 and 2011 titles. It didn’t make the finals, finishing 4 strokes short of advancing in the Athens Regional.
CAN ILLINOIS WIN IT ALL? Absolutely. But it won’t be easy. And it will take season-best performances from Burge, Campbell and Jacobs. Illinois is counting on low scores from Big Ten champion Guthrie and Pieters, who just missed winning the regional. But to advance, the bottom half of the lineup has to excel. Illinois has familiarity on its side. The school is one of just six to make the last five NCAA Championships. The other five are all from the Sun Belt.