Illini Golf Coach Mike Small Makes Cut at U.S. Senior Open Leaderboard; Dumont de Chassart Six Back After 36 Holes of Local Korn Ferry Tour Event 

Mike Small managed to qualify for the weekend at the 2023 U.S. Senior Open at SentryWorld Golf Course in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Adrien Dumont de Chassart is in contention after 36 holes in the Memorial Health Championship in Springfield.

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer

July 1, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Tork Mason/USA Today Network Wisconsin)

Illinois men’s golf coach Mike Small will be playing the weekend of a major championship while his top player the last three years is in contention in his third career Korn Ferry Tour event.

Small, who turned 57 years old this past March, made the cut of the 2023 United States Senior Open, after following up a 1-under 70 with a 78 in the afternoon wave on Friday. Small is currently tied for 29th place while relying on his short game after two days of inconsistent ball-striking. The 23-year veteran Illini head coach has hit just 12 of 28 fairways and half of the greens in regulation throughout the first two days of competition.

At a difficult SentryWorld Golf Course in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Small managed to birdie the par-5 No. 10 hole for the second consecutive day but also had four bogeys and two double bogeys.

Small’s best finish in a senior major is a tie for 10th at the 2018 Senior PGA Championship and before this week, his best finish at a U.S. Senior Open is a tie for 42nd place in 2017.

Small will be paired on Saturday with 59-year-old Jeff Maggert, who is a two-time major winner on the PGA Champions Tour including the 2015 U.S. Senior Open, at 10:09 a.m. CST.

Admittedly, Small’s game has taken a backseat to his constant building of the Illini program which just finished the 2023 season by getting to the match play quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships and a 13th Big Ten Championship in the last 14 years.

Steve Stricker, Small’s former college teammate and roommate at Illinois when they won a Big Ten Championship, is at even-par, three back of the 36-hole leader Bernhard Langer. Stricker is trying to win each of the first three senior majors of the season and carded a 1-under 70 on Friday that included four birdies in his first 13 holes of the day.

Stricker will be paired with fellow Wisconsin native Jerry Kelly on Saturday at 12:29 p.m. CST. Kelly, battling a nagging and severe left wrist injury, still managed three birdies with just two bogeys.

“I'm in a good spot,” Stricker said. “There were some tough pins out there today. The wind is up and down. The course has got a lot of teeth to it. “It's just about patience, too, and we're only halfway through and a lot can still happen. If you play well, if you get it in the fairway, you can definitely shoot a good [score].”

Notable players to miss the cut included past U.S. Senior Open champions Fred Funk and Brad Bryant, 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, reigning U.S. Senior Amateur champion Rusty Strawn, 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur champ and 2022 runner-up Doug Hanzel, NBC/Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III and 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Trip Kuehne.

Illini alumnus and three-time Big Ten Player of the Year Adrian Dumont de Chassart is looking to continue the hot start to his professional career at the Korn Ferry Tour stop in Springfield, Illinois this weekend (Photo courtesy Alex Hicks Jr./USA Today Network)

Peacock will stream from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT with NBC picking up the coverage from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

While Small is on the course, former Illinois star Adrien Dumont de Chassart survived a very long day on Friday to put himself in contention at the Korn Ferry Tour event in Springfield, Ill.

The Belgium native played 27 holes after a severe thunderstorm through central Illinois wiped out most of the first round action and forced a suspension of play on Thursday afternoon. Dumont de Chassart, who has a win and a tied for second in his first two starts on the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour, had five birdies in his first eight holes Thursday and when play resumed Friday the three-time Big Ten Player of the Year selection played the remaining 27 holes at 5-under-par. Dumont de Chassart was a All-America first-team selection in 2023, which followed consecutive All-America second-team honors in 2021 and 2022.

Play was suspended due to darkness with seven threesomes still with holes to complete in their second round before Dumont de Chassart will learn his third round start time.

Former Illini star player Brian Campbell briefly took the lead of the Memorial Health Championship with the the former Illinois All-American carded a season-low 63 to put him in a tie for third place at Panther Creek Country Club in Springfield. Campbell, 30, has played 123 Korn Ferry Tour events without a victory in contrast of Dumont de Chassart winning in his first career start. Campbell, who was the 2014 Big Ten Player of the Year selection, has made his 66th career cut in his 124th start on the minor league circuit of the PGA Tour.

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