FRENCH LICK, Ind. – Illinois’ Adrien Dumont de Chassartthe reigning Big Ten Co-Player of the Year, showed why he will be in the mix for the conference’s top honor again this season by opening the 2022 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championship on Friday with a career-low-tying 64 (-8 ) to sit atop the individual leaderboard at The Pete Dye Course at French Lick.
The senior came out of the gates strong to notch birdies on his first three holes, and other than a bogey on par-4 No. 5, was blemish-free during his round. He added birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 to move to 4-under at the turn, and added four more down the stretch – on Nos. 13, 14, 17 and 18 – to push his individual lead to two strokes over Michigan State’s James Piot heading into Saturday’s second round.
“Adrien is one of the top players in the country and he definitely has the capabilities to do this,” head coach mike small said. “It’s tough to do it all the time, but I’ll put him up against anybody in the country, and today he showed that.”
In addition to matching his own person-best round, set in March during Round 2 of the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Ariz., Dumont de Chassart’s 64 is also just one shot off the Big Ten Championship record of 63 set by former Illini Dylan Meyer in Round 1 at Baltimore Country Club in 2017.
“(Adrien) kept us afloat,” Small added. “Without Adrien shooting 8-under-par, we would really be in a mess of trouble. The other guys on the team understand that and they’re ready to come back tomorrow with a total team effort.”
Behind Dumont de Chassart, junior Jerry Ji (73), sophomore Pierce Hunt (74) and freshmen jackson buchanan (75) rounded out the scoring with a combined 6-over, while senior Tommy Kuhl – who ranks second on the team with a season stroke average of 71.5 – finished one shot behind Buchanan with a 76 (+4).
That group, however, persevered after a tough stretch to close out the front nine, and combined for an even-par score over the team’s final nine holes to keep the Illini within striking distance with 36 holes remaining in the program’s hunt for a seventh consecutive Big Ten title.
“We always talk, as a team, that you fight for every last shot, and you grind until the end,” Small said. “We had a tough stretch. From Holes 4 to 9 was really difficult and we lost a lot of shots, made a lot of poor decisions, and didn’t play with a lot of confidence. It was sloppy golf. But to come back on the back nine and at least right the ship a little bit kept us in it.
“There’s a lot of golf left to play, but we’re the chasers now so it’s going to be a little bit of a different mindset and I think the guys are looking forward to it.”
As a team, the Illini, ranked 17 and 19 in the latest rankings from Golfweek and Golfstat, respectively, posted a 286 (-2) to sit in third place. Michigan State holds the Round 1 lead with an impressive 12-under 276 and Wisconsin sits in second with a 284 (-4). Purdue sits one stroke behind the Illini in fourth, followed by Northwestern and Penn State in a tie for fifth at 291 (+3).
Round 2 is set to begin with tee times on Saturday starting at 9 am ET/8 am CT. The Illini, paired with Michigan State and Wisconsin, will start on No. 1 beginning at 9:45 am ET/8:45 am CT. Live scoring is available throughout the final round on Golfstat.com.
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