Illini Legends Lists and Lore: 1988 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championship | Sports
On this day in University of Illinois men’s golf history, coach Ed Beard’s Illini captured the school’s first Big Ten team title in 47 years, edging second-placed Ohio State from 20 strokes.
Savoy’s victory on the 6,596-yard Orange Course ended a six-straight first-place streak for Ohio State. The Illinois team’s victory capped a sensational improvement from last place three seasons earlier in 1985.
The Illini quintet of seniors Mike Small and Don Edwards, junior Steve Stricker and sophomores Kevin Fairfield and Heath Crawford overwhelmed a Buckeye team led by Chris Smith and Anthony Adams.
Stricker’s total of 279 medalists in four rounds, nine under par, earned medalist honors and included one round of 69 and three of 70 shots. He was 14 shots better than Smith and teammate Small.
The last day of competition was made much more difficult by extremely windy conditions.
“I remember the wind blowing over the tents,” Beard said. “Steve and Mike both played the last nine holes in a breeze, but we were used to it.”
Small agreed with his coach, saying “I think the wind hit other teams and really messed them up.”
Illinois, which last won the Big Ten championship in 1940 and 1941, won its seventh overall tag team title.
Meet the five members of the 1988 Illinois championship team:
- The Edgerton, Wisconsin native had a sensational professional career, winning a dozen PGA Tour titles among his 30 victories. Stricker has five top-five finishes at major championships, placing second at the 1998 PGA, fourth at the 2016 British Open, fifth at the US Open in 1998 and 1999, and sixth at the 2009 Masters. captain of the USA Ryder Cup team, leading the team to victory in his home country.
- A four-time Danville letter winner, he has been Illini’s head coach since the 2000-01 season. He led Illinois to 12 Big Ten titles, including the last seven in a row. Small, a record 12-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, continued to be an outstanding player, winning the PGA of America title three times, the Illinois Open four times, and the PGA of Illinois title. 13 times.
DON EDWARDS: The former unemployment insurance administrator founded Flexpoint Ford in 2005, a private equity investment firm. In 2020, he and his wife, Anne
- pledged a $10 million donation to their alma mater, with funds split between the Gies College of Business, Discovery Partners Institute, Ubben Basketball Complex and Illini’s golf program
- After graduating from Illinois in mechanical engineering, Crawford went on to study at Purdue, earning a master’s degree in operations management and supervision. His career took him to Maryland, Kentucky and Tennessee. He is now an Operational Excellence Change Agent for Ingersoll Rand in Clarksville, Tenn.
- A letter winner from Illini from 1987 to 1990, Fairfield was the best player on his senior team, averaging 74.1 shots per round and being named to the All-Big Ten team. In April 2001, he died aged 33 from cancer.
Sunday: Morgan O’Brien, volleyball
Monday: Art Sitkowski, football (22)
Tuesday: Steve Green, soccer (68)
Wednesday: Kevin Anderson, tennis (36)
Thursday: Randy Rodgers, football (75)
Friday: Marc Jackson, soccer (41)
Saturday: Ed O’Bradovich, soccer (82)
By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (third edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical treats daily on Twitter @IlliniLegends and @Spartifacts2022. Its website is www.SportsLLL.com.