Buckeyes will play in their first national championship since 1998 as Jim Brown closes career in home state

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. The Ohio State men’s golf team held strong in its final two rounds of the NCAA Central Regional Saturday and finished in a tie for third to advance to the 2009 NCAA Championships. The Buckeyes, who are making their first championship appearance since 1998, will battle for the national title in their home state at Inverness Club in Toledo, May 27-30.

Ohio State tied with Georgia Tech with team scores of 880 (+16) on the par 72, 7,372-yard Club of Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Ky. Defending NCAA champion UCLA surged ahead in the final round to take the regional crown at 1-under 863, while top-seeded Washington was second at 870. Duke is the fifth and final team to advance from the site at 881.

“I really wanted to play my last tournament in Ohio,” Jim Brown, Ohio State’s head coach who is retiring at the end of this season after 36 years, said. “I’m just so happy for the guys and if I could write a script for my list tournament, this would be it. Now let’s go win it.”

This will be the 19th NCAA championship Brown has led the Buckeyes to, and the program’s 30th championship appearance overall.

After play for the second round was suspended Friday, the Buckeyes had to play up to 27 holes Saturday to finish round two and then play the entire third round. Ohio State had scores of 289 and 291, respectively, in the two rounds.

Maintaining his spot at the top of the Buckeye lineup was sophomore Bo Hoag. The always steady Upper Arlington, Ohio, native shot a 73-72 to tie for seventh place at even-par 216. It was his sixth Top 10 finish in the last seven tournaments. For the tournament, he never had worse than a bogey and made par on a total of 36 holes.

In the second round, sophomore Michael Cress and senior Vaughn Snyder each posted a 1-under 71 to lead the team. Snyder, a tri-captain from Massillon, Ohio, closed out the round with two birdies and followed with a score of 75 on his final 18 holes to tie for 20th at 221.

Cress, from Dublin, Ohio, was 2-under on his first nine holes with an eagle on No. 18. He had a good start after making the turn, but bogeyed two of his last three holes. Cress struggled in his third round with a 78 and finished tied for 39th at 226.

The final round was highlighted by junior tri-captain Brad Wright, who made a stellar comeback and knocked 10 strokes off his previous round for a 70 the lowest round by a Buckeye in the tournament. He had three birdies in the round and his only hiccup was a bogey on the par 4 No. 6. The Cambridge, Ohio, native finished with 227 to tie for 44th.

Brad Smith bounced back from a rough opening round of 87, shaving 13 strokes off his last two rounds with 74-74. The sophomore from Peru, Ind., placed 64th with a total of 235.

The three-day tournament was delayed a total of five times, including twice Saturday. The second round concluded at 11:45 a.m. (CT) and the third round immediately followed. Play was suspended at 12:51 p.m. when another storm came through the area. The afternoon delay was limited to 34 minutes and action resumed at 1:25 p.m. An hour and 45 minute-long delay greeting the teams at the start of play in the morning.

The Top 5 teams from each of the six regional sites advanced to the NCAA championships. Other Big Ten teams to move on are Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern.

NCAA Central Regional Final
The Club at Olde Stone, Bowling Green, Ky.
Par 72, 7,372 yards

Team Standings Scores
1. UCLA   292-285-286863 (-1)
2. Washington  282-288-300870 (+6)
T-3. Georgia Tech 292-293-295880 (+16)
T-3. Ohio State  300-289-291880 (+16)
5. Duke   298-292-291881 (+17)
T-6. Louisville  296-293-296885 (+21)
T- 6. Mississippi  296-299-290885 (+21)
T-6. N.C. State  294-295-296885 (+21)
9. Middle Tenn. St. 310-287-289886 (+22)
10. Vanderbilt   305-294-290889 (+25)
11. East Tennessee St. 299-301-297897 (+33)
12. Cleveland State 308-305-307920 (+56)
13. Austin Peay State 315-320-313948 (+84)
14. Bucknell  317-319-316952 (+88)

Ohio State Results Scores
T-7. Bo Hoag  71-73-72216 (E)
T-20. Vaughn Snyder 75-71-75221 (+5)
T-39. Michael Cress 77-71-78226 (+10)
T-44. Brad Wright 77-80-70227 (+11)
64. Brad Smith   87-74-74235 (+19)