Strong field and familiar site await Buckeyes in Orlando

COLUMBUS, Ohio After two weeks of match play, the Ohio State men’s golf team returns to stroke play tournament, facing a strong field at the Rio Pinar Invitational Feb. 23-24 on the par 72, 6,978-yard Rio Pinar Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Fla. The 54-hole tournament begins with the teams playing 36 holes Monday followed by the final 18 on Tuesday. It will be the first stroke play tournament Ohio State has played in since Nov. 10-12 in Oahu, Hawaii.

Rio Pinar Invitational
Course: Rio Pinar Golf and Country Club (Par 72, 6,978 yards)
Field: 21 teams (Golfweek rankings) Akron, Augusta State (43), Baylor (29), Connecticut, East Carolina, Iowa State, Kentucky (62), Louisville (40), Memphis (75), Mercer, UNC Greensboro, Ohio State (45), Ole Miss (30), South Alabama (98), Southern Miss, Texas-Arlington (65), Central Florida (24), South Florida, Vanderbilt (47), VCU (51), Wichita State (80)
Monday, Feb. 23: 36 holes (Tee times begin at 7:45 a.m.)
Tuesday, Feb. 24: 18 holes (Tee time begin at 8:30 a.m.)

    Traveling to Florida to compete will be captains Vaughn Snyder and Brad Wright, along with sophomores Bo Hoag, Brad Smith and Michael Cress. This is the first stroke-play event for Cress this season after playing in the Big Ten Match Play Championships last weekend.

   The Buckeyes finished ninth out of 18 teams at the 2008 Rio Pinar Invitational. Then senior co-captain Kyle Coconis led the Buckeyes, finishing tied for 17th at 1-under 215.

   Rio Pinar Golf and Country Club, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, features towering Florida Pines and has undergone extensive renovations the past few years, making it one of the premier courses in central Florida. Bunkers are strategically placed in fairways and green side to put a premium on accuracy. Water will come in to play on a majority of the holes. The course rating is 73.3 with a slope of 132.
Rio Pinar has played host to the PGA TOUR’s Citrus Open Invitational from 1966-82. Winners of the event include Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Hale Irwin.

    In the Golfweek/Sagarin college golf rankings released Feb. 15, Ohio State is ranked 45th in the country. The Buckeyes won the Memphis Intercollegiate earlier this season, which was shortened to 36 holes because of inclement weather, by three strokes over host Memphis. On the season, Ohio State has a record of 39-21 thru four events.
    Senior tri-captain Vaughn Snyder is the 22nd ranked individual. Snyder won the Turtle Bay Resort Invitational and Memphis Intercollegiate in the fall and has finished in the Top 20 in every event this season. He was named to the All-Tournament team at the Big Ten Match Play Championships after going
3-0-0 in the event.

    The Buckeyes went 1-2-0 at the inaugural Big Ten Match Play Championship last week in Coral Springs, Fla. In first round action, OSU tied Wisconsin 3-3 but lost out on a total holes played tiebreaker. The Buckeyes lost 4.5-1.5 to Minnesota before defeating Penn State 5-1. Senior Vaughn Snyder was named to the All-Tournament team after a perfect 3-0-0 in the event. Brad Smith followed with a 2-1-0 mark and Michael Cress was 1-0-2. Bo Hoag and Brad Wright were each 1-2-0 and rookie Alex Redfield finished 0-1-2.

    Ohio State head coach Jim Brown was the recipient of the Labron Harris Sr. Award presented by E-Z-GO in cooperation with The PGA of America and the Golf Coaches Association of America. He was presented the award Jan. 26 in Orlando. The Harris Award is given to the college or high school coach and PGA Professional whose support of the game through teaching, coaching and involvement in the community has helped ensure the continued growth of the game and represents the finest qualities the game has to offer.
    Vaughn Snyder was named Ohio Golfer of the Year by Ohio’s Golf Magazine and the Ohio Golf Group. Along with his two collegiate victories this fall, Snyder won the Ohio Amateur and finished second in the Summit Country Amateur last summer. In July, the Massillon, Ohio, native won the 102nd Ohio Amateur and was the only player in the field to finish under par. He overcame a five-shot deficit in the final round to capture the title.

    The Buckeyes will compete in five tournaments this spring that they did not compete in last season after playing in three new ones in the fall. Following the inaugural Big Ten Match Play Championship, Ohio State continues their spring schedule with the familiar Rio Pinar Intercollegiate in Orlando, Fla. Ohio State next competes in The General Jim Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and a spring break tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla.
    The first Saturday of April will feature a quad match at the Scarlet Course. The Buckeyes will go up against in-state foes Cleveland State, Dayton and Youngstown State. The following weekend gives way to Ohio State’s own 40th annual Robert Kepler Intercollegiate also played at the Scarlet Course. Next up, the Buckeyes travel to College Station, Texas, and rounds out regular-season play at the Texas A&M Tournament.
    The 2009 Big Ten Championships in State College, Pa., starts postseason play. The six NCAA Regional sites are: The Club at Olde Stone (Bowling Green, Ky.), Galloway National Golf Club (Galloway, N.J.), Red Tail Golf Club (Sorrento, Fla.), University of Texas Golf Club (Austin, Texas), Karsten Creek Golf Club (Stillwater, Okla.), and Lake Merced Golf Club (Daily City, Calif.). This season, the NCAA championships are only a short distance at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

    The alumni bested the Buckeyes in the annual Alumni Match, 6.5 to 5.5, Feb. 7 at the Bear’s Club 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.
    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.

Alumni Match Results
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)

    For the second consecutive fall, Ohio State had a successful campaign. Last season, the Buckeyes carried that momentum into the spring and qualified for the NCAA Central Regional. The 2008-09 squad hopes to use the fall as a spring board again. Ohio State had three Top 5 finishes including a victory. The Buckeyes first place finish at the Memphis Intercollegiate was its first tournament victory since 2004.
    For the fall, the Buckeyes had six rounds in the 60’s, including three from Vaughn Snyder, and 15 rounds under par.
    Three Buckeyes Snyder, Bo Hoag and Brad Wright competed in all four fall tournament this season. All three carded at least three rounds under par, while Snyder finished in the Top 20 at all four events with two wins. Hoag had two Top 10s and Wright finished in the Top 20 on two occasions.

    Vaughn Snyder competed at the 2009 Jones Cup Invitational at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga. He shot rounds of 76-71-87 to finish tied for 52nd at 18-over. The 54-hole, three-day stroke play event featured one of the strongest fields in amateur golf. The Jones Cup Invitational, a biennial amateur competition, was first contested in 2001 and was born from the A.W. Jones family and its commitment to amateur golf.

    The NCAA has decided to expand the regional format from three to six sites. Beginning this season, each of the six regionals will host 75 players as opposed to 141 previously, with the Top 5 from each region advancing to the NCAA Championships.
    The NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee changed the format for 2009 with the individual champion determined after 54 holes of play and the Top 8 teams moving on to a final day of match-play. The team with the lowest score after three rounds will play the team with the eighth-lowest score, No. 2 will play No. 7 and so on until a national champion is determined.

    Ohio State is earning its frequent flyer miles this season as they will travel a total of 11,962 miles to 11 different tournaments, an average of 1,087 miles per trip. Two of the Buckeyes excursion stretch over 1,300 miles, including a 4,498 miles trip to Hawaii. However, if Ohio State advances to the NCAA Championships, it is just a short two hour (120 miles) drive to Toledo. 

    Senior tri-captain Vaughn Snyder transferred to Ohio State the middle of last season and has made an immediate impact in the Buckeye lineup. The native of Massillon, Ohio, has won two tournaments and never finished outside the Top 20 in eight career events while at OSU. Both of Snyder’s victories came during the fall. He led the team to a victory at the Memphis Intercollegiate, while he took medalist honors with a score of 6-under 138. A month later he won at the Turtle Bay Resort Intercollegiate at 11-under par.
    In the latest Golfweek/Sagarin college golf rankings, Snyder is No. 22 in the individual category. He has compiled a record of 305-36-9 against individuals this season. Snyder’s stellar play has helped the team to a ranking of 44th and a record of 39-21-0.
    For the season, Snyder has shot in the 60’s three times, including two 67’s in Hawaii. Out of 11 rounds in the fall, he was even or under par for seven of them. His stroke average leads the Buckeyes at 71.27, a full stroke better than the second-best average on the team. He was named to the all-tournament team at the Big Ten Match Play Championship after compiling a 3-0-0 record.
    In the postseason last year, Snyder tied for 13th at the Big Ten championships and tied for 20th at the NCAA Central Regional to lead the Buckeyes.

    Vaughn Snyder’s stellar play didn’t end when the fall season came to a conclusion. The senior placed second at the 78th annual Dixie Amateur held Dec. 20-23 at the Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, Fla. Snyder finished with a four-round total of 275 (-13), two strokes behind medalist Gavin Dear of Scotland. For the week, Snyder carded rounds of 69-65-70-71 on the par 72 course and led all collegiate players in the highly competitive field.
    Also competing in the Dixie Amateur from Ohio State was redshirt-freshman Dan Charen who tied for 45th with an even-par 288. He finished with scores of 69-68-76-75. Junior tri-captain Brad Wright opened with 76-70 to miss the cut.

    Sophomore Bo Hoag has continued his success this season, placing in the Top 10 in two of the four fall tournaments. Hoag posted his best career finish with fourth at the William H. Tucker Invitational. The Upper Arlington, Ohio, native had rounds of 70-69-74 for a total of 3-under 213 and was just two strokes back from the event’s co-medalists. He followed that up with a tie for eighth at the Memphis Intercollegiate.
    For his career, Hoag has six Top 10 finishes in 15 collegiate events. He has now shot under-par on 12 occasions as a Buckeye and had six sub-70 rounds. Last season, Hoag was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection as a true freshman. He had a stroke average of 73.13 and shot a career-low a 67 at the Tucker Invitational in his first collegiate round.
    Junior tri-captain Brad Wright started out his Ohio State career in stellar fashion, shooting a 5-under 67 in the first round of the William H. Tucker Invitational (Sept. 26). He finished the tournament tied for 14th with a three-round total of 216 (+3). Wright followed it up tying for 11th at the Memphis Intercollegiate. The native of Cambridge, Ohio, transferred to Ohio State last season and redshirted the year.
    Over the summer, Wright won three tournaments. In August, he won the 2008 Ohio Publinx Tournament at 10-under in four rounds, which included rounds of 66 and 68. He also won the Eastern Ohio Amateur and the Stark County Amateur Golf Association’s Envirite Tam O’Shanter Spring Classic. 

    Zachery Sobel, one of the top recruits of 2009, has signed an NCAA National Letter of Intent to play for Ohio State. Sobel, a native of Clearwater, Fla., is ranked as high as fourth in the nation by some recruiting publications. The Palm Harbor University-Medical Magnet School student had three Top 5 finishes in American Junior Golf Association events last summer. He won the AJGA Heritage Junior Championship after shooting rounds of 68-62-71 to finish 15-under. His round of 62 is the lowest round ever recorded in an AJGA event.
    A two-time captain of his high school golf team, Sobel placed third at the Florida State High School Championship and is a four-time winner of the Greater Tampa Bay Junior Championship. In 2007, Sobel made it to sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open. He also is a standout baseball player as the school’s starting shortstop and has earned seven varsity letters.

    Bo Hoag began his sophomore season by winning the team’s Jack Nicklaus Low Fall Qualifier Award for the second-consecutive season with an average of 69.25 in eight rounds. Hoag is just the sixth Buckeye to break with 70-mark in the 35 years of the award and the first since Colin Biles (69.4) in 2004. It was the third-lowest qualifying average with Doug Wade holding the all-time record at 68.6 in 2001.
    Fall qualifying for the team was held Sept. 12-21. The Buckeyes played eight rounds on the Scarlet Course and one round on the Gray Course at the OSU Golf Club with the highest score thrown out. Hoag, a native of Upper Arlington, Ohio, carded rounds of 69-72-68-70-70-70-69 with his score of 76 thrown out. He topped it off with a 66 on Gray.

    The 2008-09 season will be the last for Ohio State head coach Jim Brown. It will be Brown’s 36th season at the helm of the Buckeyes and 42nd year overall coaching college golf.
    Under his guidance, Ohio State has won a league-record 17 Big Ten championships. The Buckeyes won the conference crown every season from 1976-90, except for 1981 and ’88 when they were runners-up. He has produced 93 All-Big Ten honorees.
    Brown, a native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, has served as the head coach for the Buckeyes since 1974. He is currently the winningest active coach in the NCAA with a career record of 5,609-1,791-43 and 157 tournament victories. In his 35 seasons, Brown has led the Buckeyes to 31 NCAA appearances, including the NCAA Central Regional in 2008, and 11 Top 10 NCAA championship finishes. The Buckeyes won the national championship, the second in program history, in 1979.
    Individually, Brown has tutored an NCAA individual champion in Clark Burroughs (1985), 18 Big Ten medalists, 11 First Team All-America selections and 40 other All-America honorees. Chris Perry was named College Player of the Year in 1984 and Chris Smith earned both Big Ten Freshman of the Year (1988) and Player of the Year (1990) awards under Brown.
    Brown’s student-athletes also have excelled in the classroom. The Buckeyes have received 11 All-America Scholar awards, 55 Academic All-Big Ten honors and 84 Ohio State Scholar-Athletes nods since the inception of both awards in 1987.
    As a coach, Brown was named National Coach of the Year in 1979 and ’86, and District IV Coach of the Year in consecutive seasons from 1977-80 and again from 1982-87. He has earned Big Ten Coach of the Year laurels three times in 1995, ’96 and 2004.

    Ohio State men’s golfers posted good results throughout the summer, highlighted by Vaughn Snyder winning the 102nd Ohio Amateur and Brad Wright capturing the 2008 Ohio Publinx championship.
    Snyder won the Ohio Amateur in June with rounds of 71-71-70-71 at Findlay Country Club for a 1-under 283 total. The senior from Massillon, Ohio, was the only player to finish the tournament under par, holding off former teammate Kyle Coconis. The tournament was played under harsh conditions: high temperatures, thick rough, lightning-fast greens and nearly impossible pin positions.
    In August, Wright, a redshirt-junior from Cambridge, Ohio, won the event shooting rounds of 71-66-73-68 for a total of 10-under 278 to defeat Tom Ballinger, the 2007 champion, by two strokes on the par 72, 7,071-yard Cooks Creek Golf Course. Wright redshirted the 2007-08 season after transferring to Ohio State from the University of Akron.

    The Buckeyes will have nearly two weeks off before returning to tournament action March 8-9 at the General Jim Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. It is one of five new tournaments on the Buckeyes 2009 spring schedule.