After a week in Arizona, Ohio State concludes spring break with first tournament play in three weeks

COLUMBUS, Ohio After a three-week lull in the schedule, the Ohio State men’s golf team returns to action March 21-23, competing in the Ron Moore Invitational in Goodyear, Ariz. The three-day, 54-hole event is hosted by the University of Denver and played at the par 72, 7,015-yard Palm Valley Golf Club. The 17 teams will play 18-holes each day, teeing off both nines Friday and Saturday with the final round Sunday being a shotgun start.

Name: Ron Moore Invitational
Course: Palm Valley Golf Club Palms Course (Par 72, 7,015 yards)
Field: 17 teams Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Denver (host), Hawaii, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Northern Iowa, RCGA National Team, San Diego, Southern Utah, Iowa, Utah, Wyoming
Friday, March 21: 18 holes (7:30 a.m. off No. 1 and No. 10 tees)
Saturday, March 22: 18 holes (7:30 a.m. off No. 1 and No. 10 tees)
Sunday, March 23: 18 holes (8 a.m. shotgun start)

   Competing in Ron Moore Invitational for the Buckeyes are senior co-captains Kyle Coconis and Zach Sebert, sophomore Patrick Simard and freshmen Bo Hoag and Brad Smith. There will be a separate tournament for individual competitors in which juniors Kevin Grabeman and Dan Rush and freshman Tanner Murphy will play.

   The Palms Course at Palm Valley was designed by the renowned Arthur Mills. Arguably the best course in the Phoenix area and the state of Arizona, Palm Valley provides a stiff challenge even for the skilled golfer. No. 9, the signature hole, is as challenging long par 5 hole has a lake to the left side of the fairway of about 200 yards, surrounding the entire left portion of the green. The rest of the green is well guarded with bunkers. If that does not make it tough enough, the hole is usually always playing into the wind. The fairways are Bermuda grass and the greens are Tiff Dwarf. Palm Valley has a course rating of 73.4 and a slope of 133.

   Because of spring break, the Buckeyes were able to travel to Arizona a week before the Ron Moore Invitational. The Buckeyes arrived in the Phoenix area on March 13 and will return to Columbus upon the completion of the invitational. Being in Arizona a week prior to competition has allowed the Buckeyes to get used to the time difference and the Bermuda grass.

   Ohio State shot a team score of 10-over 874 at the Rio Pinar Intercollegiate to finish in ninth place at 874 (+10) in Orlando, Fla. Tournament host Central Florida won the event running away with a score of 18-under 846 to win by 12 strokes at the par 72, 7,003-yard Rio Pinar Golf Club.
   Senior co-captain Kyle Coconis was the low Buckeye of the tournament, shooting a 1-under-par 215 to finish in a tie for 17th. The Top 20 placing was the fourth of the season for the native of Zanesville, Ohio. Brad Smith secured his first Top 30 finish totaling 218 strokes to finish 2-over for the 54-hole event. Fellow freshman Bo Hoag and sophomore Patrick Simard finished tied for 37th and 69th, respectively. Hoag finished with score of 220 (+4) and Simard shot 226 (+10). Dan Rush, a junior from Avon Lake, Ohio, finished in 76th shooting rounds of 79-73-76 for a total of 12-over 228.

   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 is 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. He leads Ohio State with a 71.4 stroke average this season.

   Sophomore Patrick Simard has gotten off to a spectacular start this spring season with a career-low 65 in the Buckeyes tri-match Feb. 16 to earn medalist honors. The native of Marbella, Spain, has recorded three rounds in the 60’s this year and six rounds under-par. Already, this season, Simard has finished in the Top 5 three times. During the fall campaign, Simard finished in a tie for fourth at the Coca-Cola Duke Golf Classic (Oct. 7-8) and the Landfall Tradition (Oct. 26-28), shooting 7-under and 1-under-par, respectively.

   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.

   Five Buckeyes have a stroke average below 74 this season. Patrick Simard leads the way at 71.4, while Kyle Coconis averages a 72.1. Following them are Bo Hoag and Zach Sebert at 72.5 and 73.6, respectively. Brad Smith has continually dropped his average since his first tournament and now stands at 73.4.  The five have combined for 11 rounds in the 60’s and 22 rounds under-par.

   The Buckeyes will travel to five states to compete this spring in Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, West Virginia and Michigan. The Buckeyes will welcome teams as well when they host the annual Robert Kepler Intercollegiate April 12-13. A motivating factor for Ohio State this season is the possibility of a home course advantage at the NCAA Central Regional as the Scarlet Course hosts the event May 15-17.

   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.
   Already, they have had five individual Top 10 finishes, including four in the Top 5 after totaling eight all last season. 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).
   Fifth-year senior Kyle Coconis was one of the bright spots for the Ohio State and has become a cornerstone for the team heading into the spring portion of the schedule. After playing sparingly in his first four seasons on the squad, the Zanesville, Ohio, native broke out with a stroke average of 72 and was able to achieve both his lowest round in collegiate competition, a 68 at the Landfall Tradition, and his best finish, which also came at the Landfall where he placed second at 4-under 212.

   Freshman Bo Hoag of Upper Arlington, Ohio, was one of the most heralded freshmen in the country during the fall campaign. 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, Hoag had a season-best fifth-place finish with a score of 204 (-12).

   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.

   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.
   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. 
   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.

   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.

   The Buckeyes will head south to Greenville, S.C., and the Furman Intercollegiate, March 28-30.