Illini golf star and Morton native Tommy Kuhl making national headlines for sportsmanship at U.S. Open local qualifier

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Published: May. 11, 2023 at 1:52 PM CDT
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(25News Now) - University of Illinois golf star and Morton native Tommy Kuhl played the best golf of his career last weekend. The Illini senior fired a 62 at a U.S. Open local qualifier in Springfield, IL. It was the best score of the day on the course until the score no longer counted.

Kuhl had been fixing marks on the green throughout his round. Then he found out the marks were from aerating the greens.

When he realized his mistake, Kuhl realized he had broken the rules and decided to do the right thing. He called a penalty on himself, disqualifying himself from the tournament and negating his tournament-best score.

“It was a tough day,” Kuhl said. “Obviously I played really well. Obviously it was a rule I didn’t know. It sucked in the moment, but it happens. It’s life. I wanted to own up to it because that’s golf. I wouldn’t have felt good about myself at all. Very unfortunate situation.”

Kuhl made the difficult decision throw out the best round of his career, a decision his college coach respects tremendously.

“It happens,” University of Illinois coach Mike Small said. “He handled it like a pro, handled it like the class individual he is. You pay the penalty and you move on. He’s got a lot of golf left. That’s the kind of person he is and we’d expect nothing other from anybody on our team to do the same thing. That’s golf. That’s what makes golf different.”

Despite the disappointment stemming from the situation, Kuhl is now turning his attention to the next goal in front of him. Even with fixing those aerated marks, the 62 has given him plenty of confidence moving forward.

“It was crazy,” Kuhl said. “And I tell people, it stinks that I got DQ’d. It’s the rules of golf and I didn’t follow them. It’s all on me. But I can gain confidence from that round and bring it into (NCAA) regionals and that’s what I’m going to do. I played a great round of golf.”

Kuhl and the Illini begin NCAA Tournament play Monday, May 15th in Michigan. He will go there playing great golf and as a man of great character on the golf course. There’s little doubt why Kuhl is Illinois golf’s back-to-back Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner.