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Is this the year Illinois wins it all?

The Illini get going in the NCAA Regionals on Monday.

Tommy Kuhl and head coach Mike Small - Round 2 of the 2023 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championship, April 29, 2023 at Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway, N.J.
Photo by Danny Mattie / Illinois Athletics

This has to be the year, right?

Illinois men’s golf tees things off in the NCAA Bath Regional on Monday. It’s the program’s incredible 15th consecutive regional appearance, and they’ve made the NCAA Championships 13 of those 14 years — last year in 2022 was the exception.

This year’s regional is hosted by Michigan State at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, near East Lansing. It’s a 54-hole event slated to end on Wednesday.

Illinois will have five golfers competing — Tommy Kohl, Matthis Besard, Adrien Dumont de Chassart, Jackson Buchanan and Piercen Hunt — and the lowest four scores count toward the team score each round. Five teams will advance to the NCAA Championships from the 13-team field.

We all know how incredible Mike Small has been with this program — it’s nothing short of remarkable how Illinois, a place where it’s too cold or snowy to golf for nearly half the year, has become an absolute juggernaut in men’s golf. And it even extended to the women’s side this year, with that program’s first Big Ten title.

But something is missing, and that’s clearly an NCAA championship. Eventually Illinois will have to break through, right? If you get 16 bites at the apple, hopefully you eventually get to the apple’s core.

Nonetheless, Small has cemented himself as an Illinois coaching legend, and you’d have to hope even when he retires in the future that the program is built in a way where the success atop the Big Ten can be sustained.

But, boy, it’d be something to win that elusive NCAA title.

The NCAA Championships will be played on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale from May 26-31.

You can follow along with live stats during the regionals on