Illini Ninth After Round 1 of NCAA Championship

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Fighting Illini men’s golf team shot an opening round of 285 (+5) on Friday afternoon, led by a 2-under 68 from fifth-year senior Adrien Dumont de Chassart, to sit in a tie for ninth following Round 1 of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club’s Raptor Course.

Collectively the No. 3-seeded Illini had an up-and-down day after teeing off on No. 10 to start their round. The team stumbled a bit out of the gates, but quickly found their footing to challenge for the lead at several points. Some errors at the midway point of front nine brought the team back to the pack, before a late push to close on Holes 7-9 kept the team in the hunt heading into Saturday’s second round.

“We have our own expectations and our own standard that we try to hit, and I thought today we didn’t start out hitting that standard, but we did fight back,” head coach Mike Small said.”Piercen (Hunt) held it together for the most part; his birdie coming in was big for the team score. It could have been worse at the end. You’ve got Tommy (Kuhl) making a birdie (to close his round on No. 9) Piercen making a birdie (on No. 8), and Adrien making a great save on No. 7.”

“In the 4-5-6 area there today, we had some holes that we did not hit our standard, and that’s what we tried to address,” added Small. “When you have some adversity and the ball is out of position, you get it back into position, save shots and move on. We had too many double bogeys today, and that’s uncharacteristic of us. I think all of us are frustrated, but we know we’re better than that. It’s part of the game; that’s why this is a four-round event.”

Gallery: (5-26-2023) MGOLF: NCAA Championship – Round 1

Dumont de Chassart opened his day with birdies on 10, 11 and 14 and was 3-under through five holes. Bogeys on 15, 18 and No. 1 slid him back to even-par through 12 holes. The three-time Big Ten Golfer of the Year and Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year finalist responded by carding back-to-back birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 and closed out his round with four straight pars to sit in a tie for sixth at 2-under. Dumont de Chassart’s 68 marked his lowest tally in seven previous career rounds in the NCAA Championships in 2019 and 2021.

“That’s what good players do,” Small said of Dumont de Chassart’s round. “It’s all about the score in the final box on the scorecard. It doesn’t matter how you get there. Things kind of ebbed and flowed, and he finished it off strong. That’s why he is going to be a first-team All-American. He’s just good, and the good ones do that.”

Sophomore Jackson Buchanan, making his NCAA Championship debut, is three shots behind Dumont de Chassart in a tie for 31st. Kuhl (+2) and Hunt (+4) rounded out scoring for the Orange and Blue in ties for 47th and 87th, respectively, and fifth-year senior Matthis Besard shot 6-over to sit in a share of 115th in the 156-player field.

No. 11 Georgia Tech sits atop the team standings at 280 (E) through 18 holes, five strokes ahead of Illinois. The Yellowjackets’ Ross Steelman also holds the individual lead after an opening round of 64 (-6).

Illinois returns to action Saturday morning for Round 2. The No. 3-seeded Illini will once again be paired with No. 1 Vanderbilt and No. 2 North Carolina. The Commodores and Tar Heels are three shots ahead of the Illini in a three-way tie or fourth with Texas Tech. They tee off of Hole No. 1 beginning at 6:10 a.m. PT. Live scoring is available throughout the tournament at

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