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Ohio State in search of first victory at home event since 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State men’s golf team concludes its regular season schedule at home this weekend by hosting the 39th-Annual Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, April 12-13. The tournament will feature a 14-team field competing on the par 71, 7,455-yard Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University’s Golf Club. Teams will play 54 holes over two days, beginning with 36 holes Saturday and concluding with a final 18 Sunday. 

KEEPING TRACK
   Results of the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate will be available at the Ohio State men’s golf page on the official athletics site of the Buckeyes, www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com.

TOURNAMENT BASICS
Name:
Robert Kepler Intercollegiate
Course: The Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course (Par 71, 7,455 yards)
Field: 14 teams Ohio State (host), Colorado, Furman, Iowa, Kent State, Louisville, Marshall, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, UNC-Wilmington, Wisconsin
Schedule:
Saturday, April 12: 36 holes (8:30 a.m. shotgun start)
Sunday, April 13: 18 holes (8:30 a.m. start off Nos. 1 and 10 tees)

THE BUCKEYE LINEUP
   Competing in the team portion of the tournament for the Buckeyes are senior co-captain Kyle Coconis, junior Vaughn Snyder, sophomore Patrick Simard and freshmen Bo Hoag and Brad Smith.
   Senior co-captain Zach Sebert, juniors David Becher, Kevin Grabeman and Dan Rush and freshmen Tanner Murphy and Michael Cress will be competing as individuals.

HELLO NEIGHBOR
   Ohio State will be one of seven Big Ten teams playing in the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate this weekend. Along with the Buckeyes, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin will compete in the event. The Kepler will be the last event for many teams before next competing in the Big Ten Championships, April 25-27 at the Forest Akers Golf Club in East Lansing, Mich.

THE COURSE AHEAD
   Opening in 1938, The Ohio State University’s Scarlet Golf Course is arguably the best college golf course in the nation. It was designed by world renowned course designer Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who also designed the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament. Scarlet underwent a major restoration project in 2005 and 2006, which was headed by Ohio State legend Jack Nicklaus. The course is now an even more demanding par 71 and 7,455 yards.
   The course has hosted tournaments such as the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, the NCAA Preview, Big Ten Championships, NCAA Regional Championships and a record 10 NCAA Men’s National Championships. It is also now the home of the Nationwide Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational. Scarlet features large contoured greens surrounded by strategically placed bunkers that add to the difficulty of the beautiful, yet demanding course. The course rating is 76.1 with a slope of 142. The fairways and greens are bent grass.

LAST TIME WE WERE HERE
   The Buckeyes finished in seventh place at the 2007 Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, which was shortened to 36 holes because of inclement weather. Zach Sebert and Patrick Simard are the only two returning Buckeyes who competed in the team competition. Sebert finished in tied for 23rd at 12-over 154, while Simard had a 36-hole total of 19-over-par 161 to finish in a tie for 53rd.
   Kevin Grabeman and Kyle Coconis competed as individuals and finished tied for 51st and tied for 53rd, respectively. Grabeman had a two-day total of 18-over 160. Coconis was one shot back at 19-over 161.
   Louisville was the team champion, shooting 23-over 591. Michigan State’s Matt Harmon was the individual champion at even par 142.

HOME COURSE ADVANTAGE
   Of the 38 previous Robert Kepler Intercollegiate events, Ohio State has won 23 of them. The next highest team is Indiana with four. The Buckeyes won the inaugural tournament in 1969, with OSU’s Gary Artz claiming medalist honors. The last time Ohio State won the Kepler was in 2003 and the last Buckeye medalist was Matt Minister in 1996.

ROBERT KEPLER, BUILDER OF OSU GOLF TRADITION
   The Robert Kepler Intercollegiate is named in honor of the Ohio State head coach who led the Buckeyes from 1938-1965. Under Kepler, Ohio State built a golfing tradition which was highlighted by an NCAA team championship in 1945 and four NCAA individual champions. One of the winners included Jack Nicklaus in 1961, now universally recognized as the greatest golfer the game has ever known. Kepler also led Ohio State to four Big Ten championships. He was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980.

LAST TIME OUT
   Ohio State shot a 3-under 565 to finish third in a field of 17 at the rain-shortened Marshall Invitational, April 5. The event was shortened to 36 holes after the opening day was postponed because of rain. Fellow Big Ten teams Illinois and Penn State placed first and second, respectively, on the par 71, 6,476-yard Guyan Golf and Country Club.
   Senior co-captain Kyle Coconis and freshman Bo Hoag led the Buckeyes at 2-under 140 for a fifth-place tie. Coconis opened with a 68 for his sixth round in the 60’s this season and wrapped up the event with a 72. Hoag fired steady scores of 71-69 for his fifth round in the 60’s this year. In his first tournament as a Buckeye, junior Vaughn Snyder finished tied for ninth at 141 with rounds of 70 and 71. Junior Dan Rush finished in a tie for 23rd firing rounds of 73 and 71 to finish at 2-over 144. Sophomore Patrick Simard finished tied for 53rd with a total of 150 after rounds of 73 and 77. It was only the second tournament this season Simard had not carded a round under par.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
   After a tough season last year, the Buckeyes have turned almost all aspects of their game around this season. Twice this year Ohio State has finished a three-round tournament with a total of 847 (-17) after a low team score of 875 last year. Three weeks ago at the Ron Moore Invitational, the Buckeyes recorded a season-low round of 11-under 277. OSU has totaled 14 rounds under 290 thus far into the season after just two a year ago. The team stroke average has dropped from 300.8 per round to a 288.2 mark, a drop of over 12 strokes. In eight tournaments this season, the Buckeyes have finished in the Top 4 five times after just two last year. Overall, Ohio State is 90-32-3 in events this season after wrapping up 2006-07 at 62-76-3.
   Individually, the Buckeyes have dropped over two strokes from their averages just a season ago, from 75.25 to a 73.09 mark through 120 tournament rounds this season. OSU golfers have fired 39 rounds under par this season, including 19 in the 60’s after just two all of last season. Ohio State placed seven in the Top 10 of the individual tournament standings in 2006-07 and already has nine this year with at least two events remaining on the schedule.

SAVING HIS BEST FOR LAST
   Fifth-year senior Kyle Coconis has been a bright spot for Ohio State this season and has become a cornerstone for the team. After playing sparingly in his first four seasons on the squad, the Zanesville, Ohio, native has broken out this season with a team-leading stroke average of 71.9. Four times this season he has carded a career-low 68, including back-to-back rounds at the Ron Moore Invitational (March 21-23).  Coconis also achieved the best finish of his career at the Landfall Tradition where he placed second at 4-under 212. He has been one of Ohio State’s most consistent competitors with seven Top 20 finishes in eight tournaments and has finished five events under par.

ABOVE AVERAGE
  Five Buckeyes have a stroke average below 74 this season. Kyle Coconis leads the way at 71.9, while Patrick Simard is just behind him with a 72.2 average. Following them is Bo Hoag and Zach Sebert at 72.7 and 73.7, respectively. Brad Smith is averaging 73.8 per round. The five have combined for 17 rounds in the 60’s and 33 rounds under par. Vaughn Snyder has a stroke average of 70.5, after playing in his first event last weekend at the Marshall Invitational.

SEOR SIMARD
   Sophomore Patrick Simard got off to a spectacular start for the spring season with a career-low 65 at the tri-match in Orlando Feb. 16 to earn medalist honors and Big Ten Player of the Week. The native of Marbella, Spain, has recorded four rounds in the 60’s this year and eight rounds under-par. Simard has finished in the Top 5 three times and Top 20 on four occasions.

BUCKEYE BIG TEN PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
   Freshman Brad Smith was named Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Week March 26, the second time a Buckeye has won the award this season. Smith recorded two career bests at the Ron Moore Invitational, March 21-23 in Goodyear Ariz. The native of Peru, Ind., fired a career-low 66 in the second round and followed it up the next day with a 2-under 70. He finished the 54-hole event with a total of 7-under 209 to tie for fifth place, a career high. Smith led the field in par 5 scoring at 11-under for the event.
   Ohio State swept the Big Ten Golfer of the Week awards on Feb. 20 with Patrick Simard of the men’s team and Carling Coffing of the women’s team earning the honors. It was the first weekly award for both. The last time a Buckeye earned the weekly laurels for the men’s team was Colin Biles in April 2005. Simard opened the spring season with a career-best round of 65 at a single-round tri-match against Iowa State and Florida Atlantic in Orlando, Fla. The Marbella, Spain, native finished first in the event with his third round in the 60’s this year. Simard helped the Buckeyes win the tri-match by nine strokes for their first victory at an event since the 2004 season.

START OF SOMETHING GOOD?
   Freshman Bo Hoag of Upper Arlington, Ohio, was came to Ohio State as one of the most heralded freshmen in the country. After capturing the team’s Jack Nicklaus Low Fall Qualifier award with a stroke average of 70.1, Hoag opened his collegiate career with a bang by shooting a 67 at the William H. Tucker Invitational (Sept. 14-15) at the UNM Championship Course, considered the toughest college course by many. He went on to finish ninth in the event. Hoag concluded the fall season with another 67 in the final round of the SSC Pacific Invitational (Nov. 5-7). Combined with a 69 and 68 in the first two rounds, he had a season-best fifth-place finish with a score of 204 (-12).

TEAMING UP
   The 2007-08 roster boasts two pairs of Ohio high school teammates that will continue to play together wearing Scarlet and Gray. Bo Hoag and Tanner Murphy both played for Upper Arlington High School and led it to the 2007 Ohio High School State Championship. The duo of Michael Cress and Evan Wood helped Dublin Jerome High School win state championships in 2004 and 2005. All four freshmen received all-state honors in their high school careers.

LIKE OLD TIMES
   Prior to opening the spring season, current and past Buckeyes got together Feb. 9 at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla. for an exhibition match. The alumni defeated the current Buckeyes in the 18-hole match-play event. Competing for the alumni team were former Buckeye greats Steve Anderson (1990-93), Colin Biles (2004-07), Kevin Hall (2001-04), Peter Hammar (1985-88), Gary Nicklaus (1988-91) and Curt Sanders (1991-94). The event was hosted by Jack and Gary Nicklaus.

FANTASTIC FALL
   In November, Ohio State completed its most successful fall campaign in recent memory. In four events played during the fall season, the Buckeyes finished in the Top 4 in three events and never finished lower than eighth. The high point of the season came Oct. 26-28 at the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, N.C., where the Buckeyes secured a third-place finish.
   Individually, freshman Bo Hoag tied for ninth at the William H. Tucker Invitational (Sept. 15-16) and came in fifth at the SSC Pacific Invitational (Nov. 5-7), sophomore Patrick Simard finished in a tie for fourth at the Coca-Cola Duke Golf Classic (Oct. 7-8) and the Landfall Tradition (Oct. 26-28) and senior Kyle Coconis had a runner-up finish at the Landfall Tradition (Oct. 26-28).

SUMMER SUCCESS
   Senior Zach Sebert turned in some stellar summer performances and has carried that into the 2007-08 season. He fired rounds of 66-62 to win the Mid-Ohio Invitational in June. Along with the victory, Sebert broke the tournament scoring record by five stokes. In August, he also qualified for the 107th U.S. Amateur held in San Francisco. While he did not advance past stroke play, Sebert, who has played golf for just five years, achieved a major milestone in his young golfing career. 

BUCKEYE COMMITMENT
   Ohio State head coach Jim Brown announced the signing of three student-athletes to National Letters of Intent in November. The class includes the top-ranked golfer in Ohio for the class of 2008, Michael Kinkopf of Hilliard, as well as Gary Quinn of Anthem, Ariz., and Jamie Sindelar of Horseheads, N.Y.
   Kinkopf comes to Ohio State from St. Charles High School. As the team captain, he has led the Cardinals in stroke average all four seasons. Kinkopf has won eight individual titles and was runner-up in 12 tournaments. Along with his achievements at St. Charles, he was a USGA Amateur Qualifier Medalist in 2006 with a score of 134 after carding two rounds of 67 as well as the 2006 USGA Jr. Amateur Qualifier Medalist with scores of 72-67139.
   Quinn is a senior at Anthem Boulder Creek High School where he helped the Jaguars win the 2006 Arizona State High School Championship. In the state championship, Quinn fired scores of 65 and 71 to post the third-lowest winning score ever at 136 and earn first team all-state honors. The team was runner-up in 2005. In AJGA events, Quinn had three Top 5 finishes in the summer of 2007 with a stroke average of 72.75 in four tournaments.
   Sindelar, winner of three conference championships at Horseheads High School, is the son of former Buckeye All-American and current PGA Tour member Joey Sindelar. A two-time captain, Jamie Sindelar has played at the No. 1 spot all four years with a high school record of 57-10. He had a nine-hole average of 35.2 as a senior. Sindelar has twice won the New York Junior Championship and finished second at the International Junior Masters. He won the 2007 AJGA Medicus Preseason Junior in Rochester, N.Y.

AT THE HELM
   Ohio State head coach Jim Brown, the winningest active coach in the NCAA, is in his 35th season at the helm of the Buckeyes. Brown, a 1966 Ohio State graduate, has established his alma mater as one of the top programs in college golf. Under his guidance, the Buckeyes have won 17 Big Ten championships and made 30 NCAA appearances with 11 NCAA Top-10 finishes and an NCAA championship in 1979. Overall, Ohio State has won 158 tournaments under Brown and he has coached 51 All-America selections.

JOINING THE BUCKEYES
   Brad Sparling was named the Ohio State men’s golf associate head coach, Jim Brown announced Sept. 12. Sparling joined the Buckeyes after three years with the Duke golf teams, including the interim men’s golf head coach in 2007 when he guided them to 13th place at the NCAA championships. He was the associate head coach of the Blue Devils the season before that. Prior to his promotion to associate head coach in 2006, he served as the assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s golf teams.
   During Sparling’s time with the Blue Devils, the women’s team won two NCAA championships as well as two Atlantic Coast Conference championships and the men’s team won its first ACC championship since 1966. The men’s team also concluded two of its seasons ranked in the Top 10 nationally and finished tied for eighth at the NCAA championships in 2005 and 12th in 2006.

UP NEXT
   The Buckeyes will take a week off and then travel to East Lansing, Mich., where Michigan State will host the 2008 Big Ten Championships at Forest Akers Golf Club, April 25-27.