Buckeyes play in second-annual event featuring all 11 conference teams in Florida

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s golf team will tee-off for the first time in 2010 at the second-annual Big Ten Match Play Championship, Feb. 12-13 in Coral Springs, Fla. The two-day event will take place on the par 72, 7,268-yard Heron Bay Golf Club.

Traveling to Florida this weekend will be senior Brad Wright, juniors Bo Hoag, Michael Cress and Brad Smith, and freshmen Zack Sobel and Matt Turner. The four upperclassmen are making their second appearance at the Big Ten Match Play Championship.

This will be the second-consecutive year the Big Ten has held the Match Play Championship, which began after changes were made to the format of NCAA Championships effective at the 2009 event to include an eight-team match play finale after the conclusion of 54 holes of stroke play.

Competition begins Friday with 10 conference squads vying in first-round competition. Defending Big Ten champion Illinois received a first-round bye by virtue of their top seed in. The Fighting Illini will face the winner of eighth-seeded Penn State and ninth-seeded Purdue in quarterfinals.

The remaining quarterfinal matchups pit fourth-seeded Minnesota against fifth-seeded Indiana, third-seeded Michigan facing the winner of the Northwestern (sixth seed)-Wisconsin (11th seed) match, and second-seeded Iowa facing the victor of the seventh-10th seed match between Ohio State and Michigan State, respectively. Each paring consists of six individual matches between the schools.

Semifinal and title matches for both championship and consolation brackets will be contested on Saturday.

The Big Ten Network will be on hand to televise the conference event, airing tape delay coverage Sunday, March 14 at noon (ET).

The first year of the Match Play Championship brought a successful finish for Ohio State. After losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota in the first two rounds, the Buckeyes came out strong against Penn State and never took the pressure off as they defeated the Nittany Lions 5-1.

Then-senior Vaughn Snyder led the way for Ohio State, posting a perfect 3-0-0 mark in three matches on his way to an All-Tournament Team selection. Indiana defeated Michigan to claim inaugural Big Ten Match Play Championship.

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. Junior Bo Hoag, who finished in a tie for 10th place as he claimed his 14th career top 10 finish, paced the team’s effort.

The best individual Buckeye finish of the fall 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 Matthew Turner. In the first event of his collegiate career, the Dubai native led the Buckeyes to a sixth-place finish at the Memphis Intercollegiate.

In his four tournaments of the 2009 fall season, junior Bo Hoag has compiled two top-10 finishes. The Upper Arlington, Ohio, native has now compiled 14 top-10 finishes in his career at Ohio State. He also has finished in the top 5 in four of these occasions.

As a sophomore, Bo Hoag collected a number of awards. The Upper Arlington, Ohio, native was named a PING All-America Honorable Mention selection by the Golf Coaches Association of America, becoming the first Buckeye to earn a spot on the team since Zach Doran in 2003. Hoag also was a PING All-Midwest Region honoree as well as a First Team All-Big Ten award winner.  Hoag led the Buckeyes in 2008-09 with a stroke average of 72.59 while playing in all 37 rounds. Hoag posted 15 rounds of even-par or below with eight top-10 finishes, including six in the last eight events.

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.

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.

The Buckeyes return to stroke play when they travel to the Puerto Rico Classic, Feb. 21-23.