LAFAYETTE — Even in windy conditions and with some tough pin placements, nobody was going to catch Illinois on Tuesday at the Louisiana Classics.
The top-ranked Fighting Illini men’s golf squad entered the day with a 14-stroke advantage — and added to that with the day’s only even-par score. They finished at 19-under 845 score for a 22-stroke win, by far the biggest margin in the Classics’ 30-year history, for their third straight title in the event.
“When you have the No. 1 team here and you know what they’re capable of, you figure them to run away with it,” Louisiana-Lafayette coach Theo Sliman said. “We were ultimately another tournament in itself, playing for second place.”
The host Ragin’ Cajuns missed out on that runner-up slot, slipping to third in the team standings during Tuesday’s final trip around the 6,898-yard, par-72 Oakbourne Country Club course. UL-Lafayette struggled to a 14-over 302 and was passed by Texas State, which finished at 3-over 867.
The previous largest margin of victory was a 14-stroke win by LSU in 2012.
Illinois shot 10-under 278 and 9-under 279 in Monday’s first two rounds. The even-par 288 on Tuesday was still five strokes better than anyone else in the 14-team field.
“It was difficult today,” Illinois coach Mike Small said. “The pins were difficult, and the conditions were tough. That was the advantage of having our veterans step up and perform.”
No one stepped up more than Illinois’ Thomas Detry. The junior from Belgium shared the first-day lead after going 68-69, and he followed up with a bogey-free, 6-under 66 on Tuesday — the day’s low round by three shots.
Detry had three birdies on both sides Tuesday, including both par-3s on the back side, and he narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 65 on a day when the wind whipped down Oakbourne’s oak tree-lined fairways. That wind and some diabolical pin placements made the course play to a 75.81 average, more than two strokes higher than either of Monday’s rounds.
Texas State’s Tyler Saunders was the individual runner-up, six back of Detry at 209. Zander Lozano of Texas-San Antonio was third at 211.
Illinois had two other top-five finishers, with Brian Campbell and Charlie Danielson finishing tied for fifth at 3-under 213.
UL-Lafayette junior Haraldur Magnus was in that top five before taking a double-bogey 5 on the 17th hole, dropping him to seventh at 214.
Kent State (876) and Kansas (877) rounded out the top five team finishers. Southeastern Louisiana, the second-highest ranked team in the field entering the tournament, finished tied for sixth with Middle Tennessee at 880.