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Former Illinois golfer Thomas Pieters is gunning for an Olympic Gold Medal

Thomas played in Champaign from 2011-2013.

Golf - Olympics: Day 7 Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Although Thomas Pieters was a NCAA Champion at Illinois, he has yet to really burst onto the professional golf scene. If he’s able to keep his performance up in Rio de Janiero, however, the spotlight may soon be shining directly upon him. The former Fighting Illini standout is making a serious push for a Gold Medal while representing Belgium in the 2016 Olympic golf tournament.

Pieters (-9) got off to a great start in Round 1 by shooting a 67, and he followed that up with an equally incredible five-under 66 on Friday. The Belgian currently sits in second place, just one shot off of Australian Marcus Fraser’s lead (-10). He’ll need to keep some big names at bay, though, as Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (-8) and England’s Justin Rose (-6) are also in contention near the top of the leaderboard.

For those interested in following along with Round 3, Pieters is set to tee off around 9:09am CT on Saturday morning. The tournament will be broadcasted live on the Golf Channel, and you can also follow along with SB Nation’s coverage right here.

Illinois Fighting Illini Links

- Three-star CB Tony Adams commits to Illinois over Missouri (TCR)

Lovie Smith received some great news on Friday. Adams was one of program’s top secondary targets, and he’s rated as the No. 1078 player in the country (No. 8 player from Missouri).

- Four-star SF Jordan Goodwin commits to St. Louis over Illinois (TCR)

What’s next for Illinois? Probably nothing fans want to hear. Goodwin was far and away the No. 1 remaining target, and a huge amount of resources had been allocated his way over the past two years.

- Jordan Goodwin explains reasoning behind college decision (BND)

"What really got me about SLU was I had a dream about it," he said. "I was being chased by a Billiken. In my dream I was running and I went to the arena — and that’s when the Billiken finally caught me.

"I woke up and told my dad about it. We talked about it and he said if that’s what you want to do, do it."

- Nickersons bring father-son football story to Illinois (Chicago Tribune)

"I'm coming off the field and his team was right there coming onto the field," the elder Nickerson said. "I got to walk by and see him. My career was ending and his was starting. We were passing each other. It was one of those moments."