Buckeyes battle for 24th Big Ten title after six Top 4 tournament finishes this season

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State men’s golf team begins postseason play in East Lansing, Mich., at the Big Ten Championships, April 25-27. Michigan State hosts the event at the par 72, 7,013-yard West Course at Forest Akers Golf Club. Teams will play 72 holes over three days, with 36 Friday and 18 Saturday and Sunday. Teams will tee off at 9 a.m. all three days.

Name: Big Ten Championships
Course: Forest Akers Golf Club, West Course (Par 72, 7,013 yards)
Field: 11 teams Michigan State (host), Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Friday, April 25: 36 holes (9 a.m. tee times)
Saturday, April 26: 18 holes (9 a.m. tee times)
Sunday, April 27: 18 holes (9 a.m. tee times)

    Live scoring for the Big Ten championships is available online at Links to the live scoring will be available on the Ohio State men’s golf page on the official athletics site of the Buckeyes,

   Competing in the team portion of the tournament for the Buckeyes are senior co-captains Kyle Coconis, and Zach Sebert, junior Vaughn Snyder and freshmen Bo Hoag and Brad Smith. Sebert is the lone Buckeye with experience at the Big Ten championships, tying for 27th at the event last season at Ohio State.
  Considered one of the best golf courses in the state of Michigan, the West Course at Forest Akers is a very demanding par 72, 7,013-yard golf course. The course was underwent a restoration process in 1992 by Michigan State alum Arthur Hills. Renovations included lengthening the course to its present length, bent grass greens, bent grass tees, rye fairways and all new bunkers. The course rating is 74 with a slope rating of 136.

   Last season, the Buckeyes had a fourth place finish at the Big Ten championships with team score of 1205 (+69). The tournament, held at Ohio State’s own Scarlet Course, tied for the best finish of the season for the team. David Vallina and Colin Biles led the Buckeyes and finished tied for fourth and seventh, respectively. Zack Sebert is the lone repeat Buckeye that will compete this week to play in the Big Ten championships. He finished tied for 27th at 23-over par last year at the event.
   The Buckeyes last appearance at Forest Akers was also last season for the Bruce Fossum Intercollegiate. Ohio State finished tied for eighth in the event at 11-over 875. Sebert finished tied for 38th at 5-over 221.

   Ohio State is the most successful team in the history of the Big Ten championship. Since the events inception in 1920, Ohio State has won 23 team titles and 18 Buckeyes have earned medalist honors, both are records. Second to the Buckeyes in team championships is Michigan and Purdue, who have each won 12. Michigan is also second in individual champions with 15.
   The Buckeyes also have set many records in Big Ten championship play. In 1981, Joey Sindelar set the 72-hole scoring record at 13-under 271 and holds the record by three strokes. In the second round of that tournament, Sindelar tied the low-round total by shooting a 64 (-7). Kevin Hall shot the lowest 54-hole score in 2004, an astounding 14-under 199. Indiana’s Jeff Overton tied the record the following year. The Buckeyes finished at 10-under 852 for the 2004 tournament, which also set the 54-hole team record.

   Ohio State last won the Big Ten championship in 2004 at the University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Buckeyes set two records that year for lowest 54-hole team score and individual score. Led by Kevin Hall, OSU shot 10-under 852, topping second place Illinois by five strokes. Hall broke the 54-hole scoring record by carding a 14-under 199. He now shares the record as Jeff Overton of Indiana tied it the following season, but they are the only two players to break 200 in a 54-hole Big Ten championship.

   Senior co-captain Zach Sebert is the only Ohio State golfer who has experience in the Big Ten championships and at the Forest Akers Golf Club in East Lansing, Mich. Last season at the Big Ten championships held at the Scarlet Course, Sebert finished in a tie for 27th after shooting 23-over in the 72-hole event.
   At Forest Akers, Sebert competed in the Bruce Fossum Intercollegiate last season. He finished at 5-over 221, tying for 38th.

   Head coach Jim Brown, making his 35th appearance at the Big Ten championships, has won a record 17 conference crowns. Brown personally has more Big Ten titles than Michigan and Purdue (12), who tie for the second-most program crowns. From 1973-98, Brown led Ohio State through the most successful span in conference championship history, winning an astounding 16 conference titles with eight runner-up finishes in the 25-year period. Ohio State has put together spans of winning the Big Ten championship for six years (1982-97), five years (1976-80) and three years (1995-97).
   Ohio State golfers have won the individual conference championship 12 times during Brown’s tenure, including four straight from 1976-79, during which John Cook won twice. Brown has also overseen a record 16 Les Bolstad Award winners, the Big Ten award for the lowest stroke average, including 10 consecutive from 1976-85. John Cook and Chris Perry each won the award three-consecutive years.

  Ohio State concluded its regular season by finishing fourth at its own 39th-annual Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, April 12-13. The Buckeyes had a 54-holes total of 909 (+57). Playing conditions were not ideal the entire tournament as the par 71, 7,455-yard Scarlet Course was cast under gray skies and temperatures in the low 40’s.
   Zach Sebert, competing as an individual, had his first Top 10 finish as a Buckeye after rounds of 71-74-78 to tie for fifth at 10-over 223. The senior from Grove City, Ohio, led the field in birdies with 10. Junior Vaughn Snyder and freshman Bo Hoag led the Buckeyes at 13-over 226 to tie for 13th. Freshman Brad Smith tied for 23rd at 17-over 230. Senior co-captain Kyle Coconis tied for 32nd with rounds of 76-77-79 for a total of 19-over 232. It was the Zanesville, Ohio, native’s first finish outside the Top 20 this spring. Sophomore Patrick Simard tied for 47th.

   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. A month 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 289.8 mark, a drop of 11 strokes. In nine tournaments this season, the Buckeyes have finished in the Top 4 six times after just two last year. Overall, Ohio State is 100-35-3 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 72.45 mark through 132 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 nine in the Top 10 of the individual tournament standings in 2006-07 and already has 10 this year with at least one event remaining on the schedule.

  The Scarlet Course will play host to the NCAA Central Regional, May 15-17. Should the Buckeyes make it to the regionals, their most likely destination in the Central Regional at the Scarlet Course, giving them a very familiar road to the NCAA Championships, which will be played on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

   Junior Vaughn Snyder transferred from the University of Akron to Ohio State during the winter break and has hit the ground running as a Buckeye. In his first tournament with OSU, the Massillon, Ohio, native tied for ninth at the Marshall Invitational (April 4-5) with scores of 70-71. Snyder also led the Buckeyes at the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate (April 12-13), tying with teammate Bo Hoag for 13th, opening with a round of 72 and closing with a 73.

   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 72.6. 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.

  Six Buckeyes have a stroke average below 74 this season. Kyle Coconis leads the way at 72.6, while Bo Hoag is just behind him with a 72.9 average. Following them is Patrick Simard and Zach Sebert at 73.1 and 73.4, respectively. The four have combined for 16 rounds in the 60’s and 29 rounds under par. Vaughn Snyder has a stroke average of 73.4 in his five rounds. Zach Sebert rounds out the group with a stroke average of 73.8.

   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.

   Freshman Bo Hoag of Upper Arlington, Ohio, 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). This spring, Hoag finished the regular season tying for fifth and 13th in the last two tournaments and dropping his stroke average to 72.9, second lowest on the team.

   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.

   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.

   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).

   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 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.

   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.

  Ohio State awaits the announcement of the NCAA tournament field Monday. The NCAA regionals will take place May 15-17 at host sites in Chattanooga, Tenn., Columbus, Ohio, and Bremerton, Wash.