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Former Fighting Illini turns Brave in his final season

Luke Armbrust looks at a shot. Photo courtesy of Craig Pessman / Illinois Athletics

The Bradley men’s golf team has a new face among its ranks, yet his surname is quite familiar. Luke Armbrust, a graduate transfer from the University of Illinois, has landed in Peoria for his final year of college.

Armbrust is one of five brothers in his family, including his younger brother Nick, who also plays on the Bradley men’s golf team. As Luke described it, growing up in a competitive family developed his love for the game of golf came thanks to his father and his older brothers.

“Just watching my older brothers play for fun, I got into it and started to play with them,” Luke said. “Slowly but surely, I got better and better, and I thought maybe this was something I could get into with college and pursue it after college.”

Golf was not Luke’s first love when it came to sports. The second-youngest Armbrust initially had a passion for the hardwood.

“I was definitely more of a basketball kid growing up,” Luke said. “It was a very hard decision to stop playing basketball after my sophomore year.”

Hailing from Wheaton, Illinois, Luke landed in Champaign for his freshman year of college. After his older brothers went to Illinois, Luke knew that is where he wanted to go as well.

“My three older brothers went to Illinois, so I had a huge background with that school and always loved it,” Luke said. “In the back of my mind, I knew I was being recruited by other schools, but I told myself that if I got an offer from Coach [Mike] Small and Illinois, that is where I was going to go.”

Luke was a three-time letterwinner for the Illini and made the lineup his freshman year for the first fall tournament.

“When you first get to campus, coach [has you] play six rounds of qualifying,” Luke said. “I made the lineup for the first event as a freshman, the only freshman to do so. I actually played solid in my mind, finishing 23rd or 21st.”

In 39 career collegiate rounds, Luke holds a 74.85 stroke average.

Playing college athletics is difficult enough no matter what level you play at, but to play golf at Illinois can be a whole other monster. The Fighting Illini have won seven straight Big Ten Championships and 12 of the last 13. With that comes one of the most prestigious practice facilities in all of the country.

“I don’t think any team in the country practiced harder than we did when I was there,” Luke said. “Coach set up a lot of good practices. I was in the business school, so I did not have as much time as I would like to practice because I wanted to do well in school. … When you are at a program like that, grades come first, but the long-term goal is to become a professional golfer.”

Now, as a graduate senior at Bradley, it’s no surprise that family played a large role in Luke’s decision to continue his collegiate career in Peoria.

“Nick played a huge role in me coming to Bradley,” Luke said. “It has been great so far with him. I was being recruited by a few other places, but I thought there was no way that I don’t go to Bradley.”

No fights have broken out between the two brothers yet, which just so happened to be a promise made to mom and dad before Luke ended up at Bradley, but it sure has been a memorable experience for the two youngest Armbrust brothers.

So far this season, Luke has finished in 29th and 45th place in the two tournaments. Luke and the Braves play again next Monday and Tuesday in the Derek Dolenc Invitational hosted by SIUE.

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