Indiana men’s golf battled the tournament field for three days over the weekend before finishing in 12th place out of 15 teams. The lineup of teams for this year's Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields Country Club was set to test the Hoosiers, and it did just that.
Junior Drew Salyers led the way for the Hoosiers, finishing tied for 20th place individually. He shot a 214 combined score, shooting 71, 72 and 71 respectively over three rounds.
Before the competition began Friday, head coach Mike Mayer said this year’s Fighting Illini Invitational would be one of the hardest tournaments of the 2022 season, and he was right. No. 15-ranked Stanford University led the field, shooting a -9 through three rounds of competition, which was 12 shots better than the second place finishers No. 3 University of Florida and No. 11 Illinois.
IU finished the first round of play in fifth place, tied with No. 15 University of Arizona. Salyers and seniors Eric Berggren and Noah Gillard each shot a 71 (+1) through the first round. The round was highlighted by three birdies apiece from Berggren and Gillard, with junior Clay Merchant picking up two birdies of his own to finish with a 72 (+2) through one round.
After the relatively strong start, the second round of play saw Indiana fall down the rankings and finish the round in eighth place. Gillard paved the way for the team again, picking up a team-best four birdies en route to shooting a 73 (+3) for the second round.
Salyers used the second round to move into the top spot on Indiana’s team ranking. His three birdies and 72 (+2) round were enough to move him into first with a combined two round score of 143. Indiana finished the second round ahead of 12th place No. 2 University of North Carolina and 12th place No. 9 University of Texas.
Round three of play saw Indiana paired with No. 25 University of Arizona and Baylor University.
Salyers picked up another solid round, shooting a 71 (+1) to finish tournament play. His final round included a trio of birdies. Berggren also had a three birdie round and finished with a 220 combined score, but it proved to be in vain as the Hoosiers ended the tournament with a team total score of 865 (285- 290- 290, +25) — good enough for 12th place and a finish over No. 10 Pepperdine University.
Mayer and the Hoosiers will look to regroup and refine their skills before their next weekend tournament, the Windon Memorial Classic hosted by Northwestern starting Sept. 26th in Skokie, Illinois.
Follow reporter Ben Kim (@bybenkim) for updates throughout the meet and the rest of the Indiana men’s golf season.