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2017 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship: Consecutive Closing Birdies Keep Illini in Contention

Despite a rough finish, Illinois finishes third round with a flourish

Brad Repplinger

Following a solid performance in the first two rounds of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Golf Tournament, the Fighting Illini posted a third round of 285 (-3). Heading into tomorrow’s final round of stroke play, Illinois sits in fifth on the leaderboard.

Leading the way for Illinois is junior Dylan Meyer, who followed up yesterday’s 67 with a 69 (-3) to place him in a tie for third in the individual competition. Meyer started his round strong with an eagle on the second hole, followed by back-to-back birdies on four and five. A birdie on seven gave Meyer the outright lead at -11, but a back nine 38 (+2) brought Meyer back to -9 for the week. Despite being in contention individually, Meyer is focused more on the team.

“Of course you think about playing well for yourself, but if you play well for the team, you will be in a good position individually. That’s the mindset I’ve taken into it.”

The closing three holes have proven to be a challenge for the Illini all tournament, with a combined score of +14 for the week. Today was no different, as four of the five players finished over par during the three hole stretch.

It was the play of Edoardo Lipparelli that helped give Illinois some momentum during a late round struggle. “Edo” (as he is known by his teammates and coaches) turned around a double bogey on 14 with three birdies in the last four holes, including a much needed birdie on 18 after watching teammate Nick Hardy struggle.

“I watched the hole played by Nick,” explained Lipparelli. “I saw he was in a bit of trouble. So I thought ‘if I do my job’ and Dylan sees me make birdie, it was going to be good for the team to end on a high note.”

A high note it was, as Lipparelli launched a long iron greenside and got up and down for a closing birdie to post a round of 70 (-2). Watching from the top of the hill, Dylan Meyer followed suit with a tremendous up-and-down birdie to give Illinois two MUCH needed strokes heading into tomorrow’s stroke play final round. Even though the Top 8 teams advance to the match play quarterfinal, it’s safe to say the guys are focused on more than just qualifying.

“We’re not looking for the eighth spot, we’re looking to win,” said Meyer. “We’re going to hunt tomorrow. That’s what we like doing, and that’s when we play our best.”