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Buckeyes look to build on runner-up finish at Boilermaker Invitational

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Following its third runner-up finish of the year, the Ohio State men’s golf team will kick off postseason action at the 2010 Big Ten Championships April 30-May 2 in Maple Plain, Minn., just outside of Minneapolis. The Buckeyes will aim to capture their first conference crown since 2004 as they battle on the par 71, 7,346-yard Windsong Farm Golf Club.

The 72-hole tournament will begin Friday with rounds one and two beginning with tee times at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The event continues with 9 a.m. tee times Saturday and 8 a.m. tee times Sunday. All times are Central.

TOURNAMENT BASICS
Name:
2010 Big Ten Championships
Course: Windsong Farm Golf Club (par 71, 7,346 yards)
The Field (11 teams, Golfweek rankings)
Illinois (9)
Indiana
Iowa (54)
Michigan (46)
Michigan State
Minnesota
Northwestern (55)
Ohio State
Penn State
Purdue
Wisconsin
Schedule:
Friday, April 30 – 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. (36 holes, tee times)
Saturday, May 1 – 9 a.m. (18 holes, tee times)
Sunday, May 2 – 8 a.m. (18 holes, tee times)

IF YOU’RE SCORING AT HOME
Live scoring for the Big Ten championships will be available for this tournament at www.golfstat.com with links to the tournament on the men’s golf schedule page. Daily scores and recaps will be available on the men’s golf page at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.  

THE BUCKEYE LINEUP
The age-old adage goes that if something isn’t broken, then don’t fix it. That’s exactly the philosophy that Ohio State will go by as they will put out the same lineup at the Big Ten championships as they did at last weekend’s Boilermaker Invitational, where the Buckeyes were runner-up.

Leading the charge will be junior Brad Smith, who posted the top 54-hole performance of the season taking second at 4-under. Fellow junior Bo Hoag will make his 11th-consecutive start of the year and senior Brad Wright will look to continue his streak of solid play this spring. A pair of freshmen in Matt Turner and Zack Sobel round out Ohio State’s lineup.

This will be the third Big Ten championships appearance for Hoag and Smith and the second for Wright.

SCOUNTING THE BIG TEN
Ohio State has already played against every team in the Big Ten this season, with the lone exception of Michigan State. The Scarlet and Gray most recently faced off against six other Big Ten teams at the Boilermaker Invitational last weekend. Ohio State defeated five of the six schools, topped only by tournament champion Illinois. All five starters finished in the top 25 for the Buckeyes, including runner-up Brad Smith, and junior Bo Hoag posted a season-low score of 67 in the effort.

BO-DACIOUS AT BIG TENS
Honorable Mention All-American Bo Hoag will look to continue his history of top performances at the Big Ten championships for the third-straight year. Hoag tied for 10th place at the 2008 Big Tens and took eighth place last year. The junior from Upper Arlington, Ohio, heads into the postseason with plenty of momentum after ending the regular with his highest finish of the season in seventh place.  

RAIN, RAIN, STAY AWAY
The forecast for this weekend in Maple Plain, Minn., should remain consistent throughout much of the tournament. Friday will be the warmest day with temperatures ranging into the low 70s, with a 40 percent chance of rain. Saturday and Sunday are predicted to be nearly identical with temperatures in the upper 60s and a slight chance of rain (knock on wood!) both days. Weather.com has tabbed both Saturday and Sunday to be “very good” days to hit the links.

HOW IT ALL WORKS
This tournament will take on a slightly different look from every other tournament that the Buckeyes have taken part in this season. The Big Ten championships will consist of 72 holes over three days of play. Teams will play 36 holes of golf Friday with tee times beginning at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Play will continue Saturday with tee times at 9 a.m. and tee times will begin Sunday at 8 a.m.

GRASPING THE GREENS
Windsong Farms Golf Club is west of Minneapolis and named the fifth-best course in Minnesota in the 2009-10 Golf Digest Best in State rankings. With a slope of 145 and a rating of 75.3, the course has an open feel that allows the golfer to see a wide array of the course throughout the round, and it is said to have a “country feel” as well. Although much of the course appears open, there are streams and ponds throughout that are waiting to punish the golfer who dares to hit the long ball or hit a careless shot. The signature par 4 hole 3 is a short 333 yards, so players have the chance to pick up an early birdie if they can negotiate the water hazards that flank the green.

DID YOU KNOW?
PGA Tour pro Tom Lehman, a University of Minnesota alum, and John Fought designed the Windsong Farm Golf Club.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
With his outstanding performance at the Boilermaker Invitational, junior Brad Smith now leads the team in stroke average at 73.26 over 23 rounds of play. Not far behind is senior Brad Wright, who is averaging 73.54 strokes over 24 rounds in his final season of collegiate golf. Wright is one of four Buckeyes to post at least one round in the 60s this season along with junior Bo Hoag, who is third in stroke average at 73.70. Hoag is the lone Buckeye to play in all 27 rounds this year and fired the lowest round for Ohio State this season with a 67 in the second round last weekend. All told, Ohio State has amassed nine sub-70 rounds this season.

BUCKEYES CATCH FIRE AT BOILERMAKER INVITATIONAL
Despite looming rain and a number of weather-related delays, Ohio State remained hot throughout the Boilermaker Invitational April 24-25 to take a second-place finish in the 12-team field (April 24-25).

Brad Smith carded the best overall performance of the season from any Buckeye as the junior finished at 4-under 212 to finish alone in second place. Right off Smith’s pace was fellow junior Bo Hoag, who recovered from a shaky opening round to finish in a tie for seventh place at 218. Senior Brad Wright and freshman Matt Turner each posted a score of 222 to finish in a tie for 18th place while freshman Zack Sobel closed out the Buckeyes’ effort with a 224 and a 25th-place tie.

HITTING HIS STRIDE
Junior Brad Smith will be making his ninth team start of the season this weekend and the junior from Peru, Ind., has quietly provided a solid and consistent spring amidst a roller-coaster season for the Ohio State team. Smith has played in every tournament in 2010 and has been first or second among the Ohio State starting lineup in every outing.

Despite a minor blip on the radar at the Kepler Intercollegiate, Smith has finished 3-over par or better in every event this spring. In fact, Smith has not shot worse than 3-over par since he competed as an individual at the Dayton Flyer Invitational Nov. 9-11. This consistent play recently paid off as the junior finished in second place at the Boilermaker Invitational and recorded the lowest 54-hole score of the season for Ohio State at 4-under 212.

ZACK ATTACK
Following his performance at the 2010 Big Ten Match Play Championship, freshman Zack Sobel was named to the All-Tournament Team for the event. In just the second team event of his career as a Buckeye, the Clearwater, Fla., native posted a 3-0-1 mark while helping Ohio State finish 2-1-1 in the second-annual event held Feb. 12-13 at Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, Fla.

The Buckeyes opened the event with a convincing 5-1 win against Michigan State before halving their match against Iowa 3-3. The Hawkeyes took the tiebreaker and the Buckeyes faced off against Michigan in the consolation bracket during the second day of play. Ohio State fell 3.5-2.5 against their foes from the north, but ended the event on a high note as they defeated Indiana with a 5-1 mark.

FALL BALL
The first half of the Buckeyes’ schedule brought solid play and some surprising finishes for a team that had a different lineup for each of its four tournament starts. Only junior Bo Hoag played in each tournament and two of those four starts resulted in top 10 finishes for the 2009 Honorable Mention All-American from Upper Arlington, Ohio.

The strongest finish for Ohio State came at the Fighting Irish Gridiron where the Buckeyes were runner-up in the 15-team field. The best individual finish of the fall came at the event and was posted by Dan Charen. The sophomore tallied the best three rounds of his career at 70-74-70 en route to a runner-up finish in his first collegiate tournament.

Another bright spot came from freshman Matt Turner. In the first event of his collegiate career, the Dubai native led the Buckeyes to a sixth-place finish at the Memphis Intercollegiate.

HOAG PLAYS IN ALL-AMERICA CLASSIC
Junior Bo Hoag concluded the 35th edition of the prominent Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic tied for 15th at 1-over, Nov. 24 in El Paso, Texas. The 2009 Honorable Mention All-America selection from Upper Arlington, Ohio, had rounds of 69-69-76. The annual event featuring the returning All-America honorees from the previous season was held on the par 71, 6,842-yard El Paso Country Club. Before the tournament began, Hoag won the nine-hole PING Putting contest.

SCARLET WITH ENVY
In a poll of more than 160 college golf coaches by GolfChannel.com, The Ohio State University Golf Club was voted the top college golf course. The poll, released Nov. 17, listed the top 10 college courses and, along with Ohio State, included fellow Big Ten institutions Purdue (No. 4) and Wisconsin (No. 9).

The Ohio State University Golf Club first opened in 1938 and was designed by famed architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Under the direction of Buckeye legend and golf great Jack Nicklaus it underwent a major renovation in 2005 and reopened in the spring of 2006.

A NEW ERA
For the first time in 37 years, Ohio State has a new head coach at the reigns in Donnie Darr.  He was named coach of the Buckeyes June 13 following a national search and returned to his home state after serving as assistant coach at national powerhouse Oklahoma State the three previous seasons. A 1996 Kent State graduate, Darr began his coaching career at his alma mater. He was the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s golf teams in 2001-02, and was promoted to associate head coach of both programs from 2002-04. Darr also served as assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma during the 2004-05 season and head coach at the University of Akron in 2005-06.

In July, Darr added Chris Yoder as his assistant coach. Yoder came to the Buckeyes after six years at his alma mater, Wake Forest.  A native of Ashland, Ohio, he assisted under legendary coach Jerry Haas and during his time with the Demon Deacons, he helped haul in some of the most talented recruits in the country, coaching three future PGA Tour players in Bill Haas, Kyle Reifers and Webb Simpson.