Indiana men’s golf will get an early look at Big Ten competition this weekend at the 16th annual Fighting Illini Invitational at the Olympia Fields Country Club in Chicago.
The invitational will be one of the most noteworthy tournaments of the fall season as they will compete against 14 other teams, including 10 teams in the initial Golf Coaches Association of America top-25 rankings. Facing three teams in the top five — No. 2 University of North Carolina, No. 3 University of Florida and No. 5 Arizona State University — this tournament will be an early look at how the Hoosiers compete with the best in the country.
The field of competition features the last four national championship winners: the University of Texas in 2022, Pepperdine University in 2021, Stanford University in 2020 and Oklahoma State University in 2019.
Last weekend in the Fighting Irish Classic, junior Drew Salyers lead the way for the Hoosiers with a ninth place finish after a three round score of 205 (67-71-67; -5). Salyers will likely have to replicate his performance again at Olympia Fields for Indiana to place well. The full lineup features Salyers, sophomore Clay Merchant and seniors Mitch Davis, Noah Gillard and Eric Berggren.
In addition to Indiana, Big Ten teams Illinois and Northwestern will represent the conference this weekend. As host, Illinois has taken home the Fighting Illini Invitational team title three times, most recently in 2016. Currently the No. 11-ranked team in the nation, Illinois will provide an early challenge of a high-ranking conference team primed to make a deep push in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
Playing well early will be a big key for the success of the Hoosier golfers over the course of the tournament. The par 70, 7031-yard Olympia Fields course is ranked as a top-100 course in the nation by Golf Digest and will challenge the field of teams early and often.
Indiana is hoping for success this weekend as they work for both team and individual victories. As the program has not had a golfer medal at Olympia Fields since 2008 when Alex Martini medaled. Indiana will look to return to the podium for the first time in 14 years.