Iowa's men golf team posted a tremendous -13 aggregate at the Big Ten Championship this weekend and were one of just two teams at the event to post an under-par aggregate score. Unfortunately for Iowa, Illinois went and posted a Big Ten record score (-26) on their way to claiming another Big Ten championship, their second straight and seventh in the last eight years. Iowa posted their second-straight runner-up finish and their fourth-straight Top 3-or-better finish at the Big Ten Championship.
Illinois posted an 838 total, breaking the Big Ten record of 842 previously set by Ohio State in 2004. Illinois' staggering win came on the back of a frankly incredible performance in the final round on Sunday -- as a team, they combined to go -24. All five Illini golfers posted under-par results on Sunday, led by Charlie Danielson (65) and Thomas Detry (64). When an entire team is golfing at a level like that, there's not much you can do other than tip your cap to their performance.
The overwhelming nature of Illinois' win took some of the sting out of Iowa's second place finish -- Iowa was solid on Sunday, but "solid" wasn't going to cut it when Illinois was out of this stratosphere -- although hopes were raised for Iowa after a strong showing on Saturday elevated them into first place heading into the final round.
Iowa posted a -7 under total on Saturday and rocketed up the leaderboard into first place. Under normal circumstances, losing on Sunday after taking a 7-stroke lead into the final round would be pretty disappointing... but what Illinois did yesterday was anything but "normal." I don't know if they were suiting up pre-injury Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, young Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson or what, but... damn.
Illinois also had the individual Big Ten champion (duh) and the Big Ten runner-up, although Iowa had three golfers who finished in a tie for sixth or better, which is still a very good showing. Carson Schaake, who tied for the Big Ten Championship a year ago, had an excellent Saturday (he carded a five-under 67) and though he struggle a bit on Sunday (a one-over 73), he still finished in fourth place overall. Raymond Knoll (-4) and Matthew Walker (-3) finished in 5th and 6th, respectively, for the Hawkeyes. Excitingly, all three of Iowa's top finishers are underclassmen -- Schaake and Knoll are juniors, while Walker is just a freshman. Hopefully they can build on this performance next season and bring home the Big Ten Championship that has thus far eluded Iowa in recent years. This season's result was definitely a good sign that new coach Tyler Stith can continue the success that former coach Mark Hankins (now an administrator at Iowa) brought to the program.
Iowa will find out on May 5 if they are part of the NCAA Tournament field.