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Buckeyes host annual tournament Saturday and Sunday on nation’s top college course

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s golf team will compete in its third event in as many weeks, but the Buckeyes will be playing host this week as they welcome 10 teams for the annual Robert Kepler Intercollegiate April 10-11 at The Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus.

The 54-hole tournament will take place on the par 71, 7,451-yard Scarlet Course. Action begins at 8:30 a.m. both days with a shotgun start for the 36 holes Saturday and tee times for the final round Sunday. Admission to the Kepler is free.

TOURNAMENT BASICS
Name:
Robert Kepler Intercollegiate
Course: Scarlet Course, The Ohio State University Golf Club (par 71, 7,451 yards)
The Field (11 Teams, Golfweek rankings):
Charlotte (42)
Eastern Michigan
Houston
Kent State (48)
North Texas
Northwestern
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Penn State
Wisconsin
Xavier
Schedule:
Saturday, April 10 – 8:30 a.m. (36 holes, shotgun start)
Sunday, April 11 – 8:30 a.m. (18 holes, tee times)

FOR THOSE SCORING AT HOME
Live scoring for the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate will be available at www.GolfStat.com and daily recaps and scores will be available on the men’s golf schedule page at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.  

THE BUCKEYE LINEUP
Following his highest finish of the season last weekend at the Irish Creek Collegiate (T-7th), junior Michael Cress will make his fifth-consecutive start of the spring schedule along with classmates Brad Smith and Bo Hoag. Hoag is the only Buckeye to compete in every event of 2009-10. Freshman Zack Sobel will look to continue his streak of solid play and fellow rookie Matt Turner will make his third start in five team events this spring.

The Buckeyes also will have six golfers compete as individuals. Seniors Brad Wright, who was the 2009 Robert Kepler Intercollegiate medalist, David Becher and Patrick Simard will look to make the most out of their final home tournament. Sophomores Alex Redfield and Dan Charen and redshirt-freshman Jamie Sindelar round out Ohio State’s competitors.

SWEET 16
The yardage for the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate is a little shorter this year – by four yards. This is because teams will be playing on the 16th hole of the Gray Course, Ohio State’s other golf course that weaves around Scarlet. Gray No. 16 measures 374 yards and also is a par 4. Ohio State is rebuilding the 16th green on Scarlet and the hole should open around June 1.

DID YOU KNOW?
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).

SCOUTING THE FIELD
Ohio State will battle a wide array of teams at the Kepler with golfers hailing from seven different conferences. The Big Ten will have the most representatives with four, but there will also be teams from the Atlantic 10, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, and Sun Belt Conference.

The Buckeyes have already faced off against eight of 10 opponents playing this weekend, with North Texas and Xavier fresh competition. Ohio State last saw Big Ten foe Wisconsin at the FAU Spring Break Championship March 24-26, with Buckeyes finishing 25 strokes ahead of the Badgers. The Scarlet and Gray would like to return the favor against Charlotte after the 49ers took first place over Ohio State in their own event last weekend at the Irish Creek Collegiate in Kannapolis, N.C.

WEATHER OUTLOOK
Despite some spring showers in the days leading up to the event, weather.com forecasts prime golfing conditions for this weekend. The high temperature Saturday is expected to top out at around 63 degrees and the skies will be sunny with the golf index at “very good” for the entire first day. Sunday will bring much of the same, with temperatures expected to peak around 70 under mostly sunny skies. The golf index tabs Sunday as “excellent” and there is no chance of rain [knock on wood] through the entire weekend.

GRASPING THE GREENS
The Robert Kepler Intercollegiate will take place on the par 71, 7,451 yard Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University Golf Club in Columbus, Ohio. Located two miles northwest of the main campus, the 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.

The club features two courses – Scarlet and Gray. The Scarlet Course has played host to numerous tournaments on the amateur and professional levels, including U.S. Open Qualifying, the Nationwide Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, several men’s and women’s Big Ten championships and NCAA regionals. Scarlet also has been the site of a record 14 women’s national and NCAA championships (most recently in 2006) and a record 10 men’s NCAA championships (most recently in 2002).

With a rating of 76.1 and a slope of 142, the Scarlet Course offers challenges for amateur and professional golfers alike. Foreboding bunkers and narrow fairways are the norm, often forcing golfers to pick between the long ball or laying up short. Dog legs and trees throughout the landscape serve to challenge players, making accuracy an absolute must for anyone hoping to tame the nation’s best college course.

HOW IT ALL WORKS
The Robert Kepler Intercollegiate will consist of 54-holes of golf over two days of play. Saturday will open with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. and the first and second rounds will be played. Sunday will also begin at 8:30 a.m. but golfers will begin with scheduled tee times and only one round of golf will take place. Scoring for the event is count the lowest four scores out of a team’s five golfers.

LAST TIME WE WERE HERE
Last year, Ohio State finished fifth at its own Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, while then-junior Brad Wright, competing as an individual, became the first Buckeye to win the event since 1996. The Buckeyes shot a team score of 55-over 907 while battling windy conditions throughout the first two rounds.

Wright finished at 5-over 218 after shooting two rounds of even par 71 the opening day. He was the first OSU golfer to win the Kepler since Matt Minister, who also won it as an individual. Bo Hoag finished tied for 14th after shooting 74-78-73 for a total of 12-over 225.

KEPLER NEWS AND NOTES
• The Robert Kepler Intercollegiate began in 1969 and was named after famed head coach who guided the Buckeyes from 1938-65. Kepler led Ohio State to an NCAA championship in 1945 as well as four NCAA individual titles, including Jack Nicklaus in 1961.
• Ohio State has amassed the most titles of any participant with 23 victories. Big Ten rivals Indian and Northwestern have each accrued four titles with the Wildcats winning the event last year.
• Ohio State last won the team title in 2003.
• Since the tournament began, only nine schools have won it: Ohio State, Colorado, Indiana, Louisville, Northwestern, Kent State, Miami University, UNLV and Xavier.
• The lowest 54-hole team score for the tournament is 867 set by Ohio State in 1991. The low individual score is 210 set by Chris Smith of the Buckeyes in 1991 and matched by Miami University’s Tee McCabe in 1998 and Northwestern’s Jess Daley in 2000.
• The Scarlet Course has played host to the Kepler Intercollegiate 36 times in 39 years.
• The Scarlet Course became a par 71 following its redesign in 2005-06.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
Leading Ohio State in stroke average is junior Brad Smith with a 73.41 mark over 17 rounds. Smith is one of three Buckeyes with two rounds in the 60s this season, along with classmate Bo Hoag and freshman Zack Sobel. Hoag is the only Buckeye to play in all eight events this year (21 rounds) and is third on the team in stroke average at 73.81, just behind fellow junior Michael Cress at 73.64 over 14 rounds. Hoag also has three top-10 finishes.

RECAPPING THE IRISH CREEK COLLEGIATE
Last time out, Ohio State was runner-up at the Irish Creek Collegiate, April 3-4 in Kannapolis, N.C. The Buckeyes finished with a total team score of 1-over 853, their best 54-hole score of the season by 21 shots, on the par 71, 7,099 yard Club at Irish Creek Golf Course in Kannapolis, N.C.

Ohio State was led by impressive performances from a trio of juniors. Michael Cress finished at 1-over 214 for the event and ended in a tie for seventh place. After two rounds of 70 the opening day, Bo Hoag had a tougher time on the final day, firing a 75 en route to a tie for 10th place with teammate Brad Smith at 2-over 215.

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 runners-up in the 15-team field. The best individual Buckeye finish of the fall came at the event and was led by 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.

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.

UP NEXT
The Buckeyes will be off next weekend before they head to West Lafayette, Ind., to take part in the Boilermaker Invitational April 24-25. It is their final regular-season tournament before postseason action begins with the Big Ten championship, April 30-May 2.