Illinois coach can play, too

Mike Small, golf coach at the University of Illinois, finished second by one stroke in the 37th PGA Club Professional Championship at Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, Ohio. The top 25 finishers earn a berth in the 86th PGA to be held Aug. 12-15 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

Bob Sowards, an assistant pro at Wedgewood Golf & Country Club in Powell, Ohio, had a 12-under 276 total for the win. Small, 38, who has served as the Fighting Illini coach the past four years, was making his first appearance in the CPC. He was 11 under with 277 on round of 66-72-70-69.

“I’ve played a Nationwide Tour event that gave me some good preparation for coming here,” said Small. “I stopped playing full-time on the Tour (Nationwide and PGA Tours) in 2000. Hopefully, this will help recruiting and let kids know that I’m still active. Next (this) week, I’m in the Western Open and I’ll go up there and try to pick up some pointers from the best players in the world and bring them back to the team.”

Though it was Small’s rookie appearance in the nation’s showcase event for PGA Professionals, he has honed his game in a combined 134 events since 1990 between the former Nike Tour and the PGA Tour.

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