Fighting Illini men's golf opened play at the NCAA West Lafayette Regional on Monday, led by sophomore Edoardo Lipparelli (-4), who closed the day in a tie for second individually. Lipparelli is joined among the top 10 individuals by junior Nick Hardy who is currently 1-under par. The Orange and Blue shot even par (288) as a team and currently sit in a tie for second with New Mexico. UNLV sits atop the leaderboard with a team total 1-under par.
"Today was a solid start," head coach Mike Small said. "To shoot even par on this golf course is a solid day. However, we had it in our grasp to have a strong round, but we finished uncharacteristically soft. We were 8-under as a team after 15 holes, so that was disappointing. But, I'm optimistic for the rest of the week; I'm excited that I saw good play for 15 holes. If we can capture that mindset for the next two days and play with the purpose that we had for the first two-thirds of the round, I will be happy."
Lipparelli had quite the hot start on Monday, posting consecutive birdies to open play. He was 6-under through the front nine after adding two more birdies and an eagle before the turn. The sophomore added two more birdies on the back nine, helping to negate some late bogeys on the day.
Hardy started the round at even par, negating an early bogey with a birdie on the ninth hole. He added another birdie on No. 10, and used another pair of consecutive birdies to negate two late bogeys and finish at 1-under par on the day. He is tied for seventh.
Freshman Giovanni Tadiotto carded two birdies to open Monday's round, but late bogeys put him at 2-over par for the day. He enters Tuesday's round in a tie for 30th individually.
The Illini will hit the course at 8:15 a.m. CT tomorrow for the second round of play. The third and final round will begin with tee times at 6:30 a.m. CT on Wednesday, May 17. Illinois is joined by 12 other teams in West Lafayette, including Florida, UNLV, Auburn, South Carolina, Colorado, Purdue, New Mexico, Augusta, Saint Mary's, Campbell, Richmond and Cleveland State.
The low five teams and low individual not on a qualifying team from each of the six NCAA regional sites will advance to compete at the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois, May 26-31.