Golf invitational features Huskies, Ohio State, Illini

By Bob Regan

Long drives, high fading iron shots and clutch putts will abound this weekend in DeKalb.

No, the PGA Tour is not making an appearance, but the creme de la creme of the Midwest’s golf schools will be participating in the 1989 NIU/Miller Lite Invitational held at Kishwaukee Country Club.

Seven Big Ten Conference schools, three Big Eight schools, along with Notre Dame, Louisville, Southern Illinois and Illinois State join NIU on the 6,307-yard, par-70 layout along the banks of the Kishwaukee River.

Defending champion Illinois, led by last year’s medalist Steve Stricker, heads the pack of schools vying for the top spot when Saturday afternoon rolls around. But the ever-present golf force at Ohio State will be looking to its balanced squad, paced by Ted Tryba, to fend off the fiesty Illini.

And even though NIU is not having the greatest of years, the Huskies have been known to resurrect themselves in the Invitational. NIU coach Jack Pheanis knows his team’s chances of taking top honors are slim, but playing the best teams can only help in the future.

I’ve been questioned by some people if we have too tough a schedule and play too many tough courses,” Pheanis said. “However, I’ve been told by people I respect that the experience we gain this year will pay off.”

Tee times for the tournament begin at 7:30 a.m. today on both the front and back nines. The players will shoot 36 holes today, attend a banquet tonight, then tee it up for the final 18 holes on Saturday, with the first group scheduled to lead off at 7:30 a.m.

This year’s participants are eager to play in DeKalb – a community that has added a friendly touch to the tournament.

“A lot of the tournaments we play in are in big cities,” Pheanis said. “DeKalb is small so it gives the tournament a home touch.”

If anyone who goes out to watch the tournament thinks he sees someone who looks like Jack Nicklaus, it might just be the Golden Bear himself. Nicklaus, whose son Gary wields a club for Ohio State, has been known to show up to watch his youngster. And a quick check of the sports section this weekend shows Nicklaus’ name absent from the Las Vegas/Panasonic Invitational.

Players who will not be absent from the NIU/Lite Tournament are leading Huskies Chad Behrends and Mike Briggs. Last year, Briggs led the way for NIU with rounds of 74-73-78 for a 225 total and a tie for 12th place.