Besard, Buchanan lead No. 4 Illini to fourth place at the NIT

TUCSON, Ariz. – Matthew Besard And Jackson Buchanan combined to go 9-under in Saturday’s finals, leading the 4th-ranked Fighting Illini to the team’s lowest finish of the weekend en route to a tie for fourth-place National Invitational Tournament at the OMNI Tucson National Golf Club .

The Illini started the day fourth and blasted a final 278 (-10) to temporarily take the team lead in Saturday’s finals. But late stumbles over the final two holes brought the team back into the field for a solid top-five finish against a field of nine top-30 programs. With everything settled, the Illini finished with a three-round record of 843 (-21) to claim their seventh straight top-five finish to open the 2022-23 season.

“I’m happy with the way we played most of the day, but it bothers me how we finished the tournament,” said the head coach mike small called. “It’s part of the game and we understand that but if you put yourself in position like we did then we want to improve to take the lead with a few holes to go and not finish it. We are proud to achieve our standard and keep it until the end of the tournament. We came out today and played as solidly as everyone else in the field until we had a meltdown on the last few holes. So there’s something positive to take away, but there are some things we need to work through.”

Besard went up 12 places from 21 placesSt to ninth place and Buchanan rose 20 from a tie to 36th to a share of 16th with their impressive laps on Saturday. Overall, the Illini finished the weekend with four golfers in the top-16 as a fifth-year senior duo Adrien Dumont de Chassart (T13th) And Thomas Kuehl (T16th) was among the top performers of the weekend alongside Besard and Buchanan.

“It was nice to see those two (Besard and Buchanan) play well today,” added Small. “Tommy and Adrien have carried us through most of the season and for these two it was a huge advantage that they both made it on the last lap. They’ve done it before and we know they can do it, so it was good to see them doing it today.”

Besard, who joined the Illini last offseason after four years in Southern Illinois, was the only Illinois golfer to record a no-bogey result on Saturday. His 5-under 67 marked his best singles round as Illini, and he was Illini’s top finisher for the first time this season with a 7-under 209. Buchanan was one shot behind Besard’s pace with a 4-under 68 for his fourth round of the season in the 60s and finished three shots behind his teammate overall with a 54-hole tally of 212 (-4).

Kuhl achieved a score of 70(-2) in the final round to match Buchanan’s tournament record, while Dumont de Chassart finished a shot ahead of Kuhl and Buchanan with a 13 drawth at 211(-5) after a final round of 73 (+1).

Junior piercing huntthe fifth member of the Illini lineup, tied for 55th with 219 (+3) at the weekend. Individually, Ryan Voois (4-over-220) shared for 59thwhile Nico Lang And Jerry Ji Tie for 79th at 9-over.

As a team, the Illini finished just behind the hosts and 18thth-Ranked Arizona (-24), who took the team title. Pepperdine No. 9 (-23) and Arizona State No. 3 (-22) finished second and third, respectively, while the Illini tied with No. 21 Oklahoma State at 21 under.

The Illini return to action in early April, traveling to Augusta, Georgia for the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational. Hosted by Augusta University at Forest Hills Golf Club – just a few miles from Augusta National Golf Club – the event takes place April 1-2 and concludes just before the April 6 Masters tees.

For more Fighting Illini men’s golf news, visit and follow @IlliniMGolf on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook.


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