Golf great Jack Nicklaus among alumni that took on current Buckeyes at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla.
COLUMBUS, Ohio With an all-star lineup, the Ohio State men’s golf alumni edged the current Buckeye golfers 6.5 to 5.5 in the annual Alumni Match at the par 72, 7,153-yard Bear’s Club Feb. 7 in Jupiter, Fla. The 18-hole event is hosted by Jack and Gary Nicklaus and designed to give Buckeyes both past and present and opportunity to connect with one another. One current player competed against two former players per match.
“It’s an important event to make a connection with the alumni, especially when we have the best player in the world there,” Jim Brown, Ohio State head coach, said. “Cook, Sindelar and all those guys have been so successful.”
Among the past Buckeyes competing were the legendary Jack Nicklaus (1960-61), John Cook (1977-79), Joey Sindelar (1978-81), Gary Nicklaus (1988-91), Ed Sneed (1965-66), Kevin Hall (2001-04), Steve Anderson (1990-93), Rod Spittle (1976-78), Kyle Coconis (2006-08), Curt Sanders (1991-94), Peter Hammar (1985-88) and Mark Balen (1976-79).
Balen, Sindelar and Cook were all members of Ohio State’s 1979 NCAA Championship team. The group featured 11 All-America awards, including first-team members Jack Nicklaus, Cook and Sindelar, and were part of 13 of Ohio State’s 23 Big Ten championships.
Sophomores Bo Hoag, Tanner Murphy, Michael Cress and Brad Smith, junior co-captain Brad Wright and freshman Alex Redfield represented the current Buckeyes.
Hoag had a tall task going up against Jack Nicklaus and Cook. The two former Buckeye legends defeated Hoag, giving the alumni two points. Wright, also going up against two Ohio State greats, defeated both Sindelar and Sneed to square the match. Wright was the only current player to win both of his matches.
Gary Nicklaus and Anderson defeated Smith, while Murphy won against Balen and halved Spittle. Redfield split his matches, defeating Hall and losing to Sanders. At this point, the alumni were up one point.
Cress tied it with a victory over Hammar, but Coconis sealed the win for the alumni on his last putt to win his match.
Brown said he knew Coconis’ winning put would roll in because “he’s the greatest putter in the world.”
“It was an once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Smith said. “Being able to meet Jack Nicklaus, let alone eat lunch and hit balls with him, was great.”
Following the match, the current and former players ate dinner, where stories were rehashed and advice was doled out.
“The stories the guys heard were great,” Brown said, laughing. “It sort of turned into a Coach Brown roast down there.”
The team now turns their attention the inaugural Big Ten Match Play Championship this weekend (Feb. 13-14) in Coral Springs, Fla., and the rest of the spring tournament schedule.
“Everyone is fired up and ready to go,” Smith said. “Jack challenged us and to hear that from the greatest player ever really motivates you.”
Jack Nicklaus and John Cook def. Bo Hoag (2-0 alumni)
Brad Wright def. Joey Sindelar and Ed Sneed (2-2)
Gary Nicklaus and Steve Anderson def. Brad Smith (4-2 alumni)
Tanner Murphy def. Mark Balen (4-3 alumni)
Tanner Murphy halved Rod Spittle (4.5-3.5 alumni)
Alex Redfield def. Kevin Hall (4.5-4.5)
Curt Sanders def. Alex Redfield (5.5-4.5 alumni)
Michael Cress def. Peter Hammar (5.5-5.5)
Kyle Coconis def. Michael Cress (6.5-5.5 alumni)