COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coming off a solid third-place performance at the Big Ten Match Play Championship, the Ohio State men’s golf team will look to keep the ball rolling as it takes on a challenging 15-team field at the Puerto Rico Classic. The tournament will take place Feb. 20-22 on the par 72, 6,945-yard River Course at the Rio Mar Resort in San Juan, P.R.
Name: Puerto Rico Classic
Course: Rio Mar Resort-River Course (par 72, 6,945 yards)
Field: 15 teams (Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, Feb. 13)
East Tennessee State
Georgia Tech (14)
NC State (17)
Ohio State (22)
Oklahoma State (1)
Sunday, Feb. 20 – 18 holes (7 a.m. EST, shotgun start)
Monday, Feb. 21 – 18 holes (7 a.m. EST, shotgun start)
Tuesday, Feb. 22 – 18 holes (6 a.m. EST, shotgun start)
AROUND THE WORLD AND AT HOME
If you can’t make the trip to San Juan for the Puerto Rico Classic, live scoring will be available at www.GolfStat.com and recaps will be available at the conclusion of each round at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
Ohio State will send out a troop of familiar faces yet again for the Puerto Rico Classic. The duo of Bo Hoag and Brad Smith will each make their seventh start in a row during their senior campaign while fellow fourth-year Michael Cress will make his second-straight start and fifth overall. Junior Dan Charen will be in the starting lineup for the sixth time this year and sophomore Zack Sobel will round out the Buckeyes’ effort with his second-consecutive start.
The Puerto Rico Classic is a 5-count-4 style event. All five golfers from each team will play during every round, but only the lowest four scores out of a team’s five golfers will count towards the team score.
THIRD-ANNUAL MATCH PLAY
Ohio State is already onto its second event of the spring schedule following a stellar tournament at the Big Ten Match Play Championship Feb. 11-12 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Starting things off against Purdue on the par 72, 7,048-yard Champion Course at PGA National Resort, the Buckeyes posted a 4-2 quarterfinal-round victory against the Boilermakers. Ohio State battled Indiana to a 2-2 tie in the semifinal round, but the Hoosiers took the tiebreaker and sent the Buckeyes to the third-place match against top-seeded Illinois. The Scarlet and Gray took command early in that match and never relinquished control as they charged to a 3.5-2.5 victory over the Illini and a third-place finish.
The effort was led by the senior pair of Bo Hoag and Brad Smith. Hoag put up a 3-0-0 mark for the event and Smith chipped in two wins while he halved just one match. Junior Dan Charen also had three impressive rounds in his first Match Play Championship, notching two wins to just one loss for the event.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
Ohio State will have to overcome an impressive array of teams and players if it hopes to claim a victory at Rio Mar. Of the 15 teams vying for the crown, eight are currently ranked in the Top 30 of the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
Leading the way will be 2010 NCAA runner-up and No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State and No. 4 Alabama. Additionally, the Cowboys will feature Peter Uihlein and Kevin Tway, ranked Nos. 1 and 4, respectively. Texas’ Bobby Hudson is currently labeled as the sixth-best collegiate golfer in the country with Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt ranked No. 7.
GRASPING THE GREENS
The Puerto Rico Classic will take place on the Greg Norman-designed River Course at the Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, P.R. The picturesque course is Norman’s first Caribbean-design and features native foliage and a backdrop of mountains throughout. The term “river” is in the course name to pay homage to the Mamayes River which runs along many of the holes.
Nearly every green and fairway is flanked by a bevy of bunkers, and water is a continuous hazard throughout the course. Accuracy and intelligent play are key as many of the fairways are narrow with constant wind from several directions. Some holes, such as the par 5, 575-yard fourth, offer the long hitter the opportunity to “grip it and rip it”, but the prevailing gusts are a continuous threat for even conservative players.
The weather forecast for San Juan looks promising during the Puerto Rico Classic with only a 30 percent chance of rain on all three days of the event. Temperatures are expected to range into the low 80s throughout the tournament as well, but wind is expected to be the biggest condition to overcome. Winds are expected to remain steady around 14 mph during the opening round Sunday with consistent speeds of 19 mph Monday. The closing round will bring more of the same as 17-mph winds are expected to blow through much of the day Tuesday.
The first half of the Buckeyes’ schedule started off with a bang and provided some career highlights for a handful of golfers. Seniors Bo Hoag and Brad Smith were the only two to start in all five tournaments for Ohio State, and the pair each chipped in four rounds in the 60s. As a team, Ohio State posted 15 rounds in the 60s in five tournaments combined as compared to just 11 during the entire 2009-10 campaign.
The best individual performance of the fall came from sophomore Jamie Sindelar. In the opening tournament of the year, the Marshall Invitational, Sindelar led the Scarlet and Gray with a career-best second-place tie to go along with a career-low three-round total of 11-under 220. Not surprisingly, the Marshall Invitational was also the strongest team performance as Ohio State came away with a first-place finish and team score of 32-under par (273-274-273 – 820). The victory was the first under second-year head coach Donnie Darr and the two rounds of 273 were the lowest for Ohio State since the 2004-05 season.
The Buckeyes also posted a runner-up finish at the Windon Memorial Classic Sept. 26-27 with a team score of 3-over 855. The Buckeyes finished just one stroke behind Big Ten foe Michigan for the title, but defeated Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn State in the process.
With five tournaments completed during the 2010 fall campaign, Ohio State has already eclipsed the number of rounds in the 60s from the 2009-10 season. Last year, the Buckeyes carded a total of 11 rounds in the 60s in 10 stroke-play tournaments. This fall, the Scarlet and Gray posted 15 rounds in the 60s to go along with a tournament title at the Marshall Invitational and a runner-up finish at the Windon Memorial Classic.
Ohio State will get a month of rest before heading to the FAU Spring Break Championship Mar. 25-27 in Del Ray Beach, Fla.