CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – University of Illinois men’s golf head coach Mike Small announced the program’s 2022-23 schedule on Friday (Aug. 19), setting the stage for another highly anticipated and competitive season for the Fighting Illini.
New to the slate in 2022-23, the Illini bookend their regular-season schedule by hosting two premier collegiate events, one at historic Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Ill., to open the season, and another at the program’s newly renovated Atkins Golf Club at the University of Illinois in Urbana, in the team’s final test leading into postseason play.
“We strive, every season, to build a schedule that tests our team both mentally and physically, and one that will prepare the team to hit our program’s standard necessary to reach our postseason goals,” Small said. “This year, we are excited to once again be playing in some of the best college events in the nation, including hosting our own premier event at Olympia Fields Country Club. In addition, I’m thrilled to welcome competitive golf back to Urbana-Champaign and look forward to the test that our new home at the Atkins Golf Club can provide as we make final preparations for the postseason. I can’t wait to get back on the course with this team and work towards another great year of Illini golf.”
The fall schedule opens Sept. 16-18 at Olympia Fields, as the Fighting Illini welcome 14 peers for the 16th annual OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational. Contested on the Par-70, 7,310-yard North Course, the event annually offers a demanding but fair early-season test that attracts one of the best fields in collegiate golf.
Teams in the 2022 tournament field have combined to account for 14 of 20 spots in the last 10 NCAA Championship match play finals. In addition to each of the last four national title winners – Texas (2022), Pepperdine (2021), Stanford (2019), and Oklahoma State (2018) – the Illini also welcome Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Army West Point, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Indiana, North Carolina and Northwestern. The field combined to tally 11 berths into the 2022 NCAA Regionals last May, with nine programs that advanced to stroke play at the NCAA Championship and five of the eight programs that closed the season in match play vying for the championship trophy at Grayhawk.
Following play at Olympia Fields, the Illini close out the month of September with a trip to Grand Haven, Mich., to compete in the inaugural Folds of Honor Collegiate, hosted by Michigan State at American Dunes Golf Club, Sept 26-28.
This new event, will feature of field of 18 programs, with proceeds benefitting Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to the spouses and children of military members who have fallen or been disabled while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and the GCAA Presidential Scholarship Fund.
October brings another pair of strong challenges for the Fighting Illini program.
First, from Oct. 17-18, the Illini tee off in another Midwest challenge at the Dayton Flyer Invitational, hosted by the University of Dayton at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.
Then, from Oct. 23-25, the team will travel to Windermere, Fla., to close the fall slate at the prestigious Isleworth Collegiate. The tournament is held at Isleworth Golf & Country Club, and is widely regarded as another of the top events on the college golf schedule; The Illini have competed in the event 12 times since 2007, including each of the last nine, taking home the team title in 2015, and capturing a runner-up last season behind the first-career collegiate victory for then-sophomore Piercen Hunt.
The spring schedule begins, unofficially on Jan. 28, when the Illini tee it up in Placida, Fla., for the Tinervin Cup, an annual match-play style event that pits the Orange and Blue against program alumni in an exhibition. The event offers the squad a chance to test themselves at one of the top courses in the state of Florida – Coral Creek Golf Club.
February marks the official return for the Illini, Feb. 13-14, at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate, hosted by South Alabama at Magnolia Grove Country Club’s Crossings Course in Mobile, Ala. The Illini have competed in the event in each of the last three seasons, finishing as the runners-up in 2020 before winning the event in 2021 and finishing third in 2022.
Illinois closes February, for the second straight season, with a tough test at the Southern Highlands Collegiate, in Las Vegas, Nev.. The event, hosted by UNLV, annually draws a strong field of championship-caliber programs to test themselves on a challenging desert track.
As the calendar turns to March, the Illini look ahead to March 17-18 when the team is slated for a return to desert golf, taking on the field at the University of Arizona’s National Invitational Tournament, hosted at Omni Tucson National in Tucson, Ariz.
April begins with the Illini returning to the epicenter of the golf world, Augusta, Ga., for the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational. The event is hosted by Augusta University at Forest Hills Golf Club – just miles from Augusta National Golf Club – and takes place April 1-2, concluding on the eve of Masters week.
Following play in Augusta, the Orange and Blue travel to Columbia, Mo., to compete in Missouri’s Tiger Collegiate Invitational at the Club at Old Hawthorne before returning home to close out the regular season schedule.
The Fighting Illini Spring Collegiate is set for April 22-23, when Fighting Illini will officially christen the championship-caliber Atkins Golf Club at the University of Illinois. The event not only marks the first collegiate event at the newly renovated facility, located just minutes from the team’s state-of-the-art practice facility, but also the team’s first event in the Urbana-Champaign community since the 2010-11 season.
The Fighting Illini’s 2023 postseason run begins April 28-30 at the Big Ten Championship. The Orange and Blue are in search of their eighth-consecutive Big Ten title – and their 13th out of the last 14 dating back to 2009. The 2023 Big Ten Championship will take place at Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway, N.J.
NCAA Regionals are slated for May 15-17, and will be held at one of six sites around the country: Auburn University Club (Auburn, Ala.), Eagle Eye Golf Club (Bath, Mich.), Bear’s Best Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nev.), The Institute Golf Club (Morgan Hill, Calif.), Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club (Norman, Okla.), and The Cliffs at Keowee Falls (Salem, S.C.).
The NCAA National Championship will return to the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., May 26-31. Illinois will enter the 2023 postseason looking for the program’s 14th NCAA Championship berth in 15 years dating back to 2008.
Tournament dates and times are subject to change. Stay tuned to FightingIllini.com for the latest on Illinois men’s golf.
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