May 5, 2005
The 2005 Big Ten Men's Golf Championship will take place May 6th-8th at the University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wisconsin. The three-day event will determine the Big Ten Champion and award the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Big Ten Conference boasts 13 of the top-200 golfers in the country and eight of the top-100 teams.
The Illinois Fighting Illini come into the Big Ten Championships ranked 72nd in the country, after finishing tied for second at the Bruce Fossum/TaylorMade Invitational in East Lansing on the last weekend of the regular season. The Illini are led by senior Garrett Chaussard, who has recorded a 72.86 stroke average on the year, including being the Illini's top finisher in six tournaments. Chaussard, the 100th ranked player nationally, has been flanked by sophomore Kyle Hosick all year. He has fired a 74.25 average on the season, and is coming off a fifth place finish at the Fossum Invitational. Senior Mike O'Neal (75.38), junior Blair Harkins (75.48), and freshmen Danny Zimmerman (75.42) and Andy Mack (76.05) round out a well balanced team that is looking to improve upon its second place finish a year ago. At the 2004 Championships, despite a second round score of 291, the Illini finished just five strokes behind the champion Buckeyes.
The No. 55 Indiana Hoosiers enter the postseason with the conference's highest-rated player, Jeff Overton. The No. 7 nationally ranked senior earned his ninth career Big Ten Player of the Week honor after tying for first with Minnesota's Ben Greve at the Fossum Invitational. The victory marked Overton's seventh career individual title, and second of the season. Overton leads the Big Ten in scoring average heading into the championships, with a mark of 70.25 per round. He also holds the best round by a Big Ten golfer on the season, having shot a 61 at the Xavier Invitational in October. Fellow senior Heath Peters has performed well during his last campaign as well, posting a 73.86 stroke average and coming off an 11th place finish at the Fossum. The Hoosiers have recorded top-five finishes in seven of their ten tournaments this year.
When the Iowa Hawkeyes take to the University Ridge Golf Course they will look a little different than they have in recent weeks. Junior Luke Miller will see his first competitive action since April 16th after spraining his ankle. Miller leads the Hawks with a 73.9 scoring average. Four of the five golfers representing Iowa at the Big Ten Championships have experience at University Ridge. Freshman Dan Holterhaus, who holds the team's low round of the year at 68, is the lone golfer not to have played the course. Each of his teammates has played the track at least twice. Along with Holterhaus, sophomore Jon Feldick recorded the low finish at the Fossum Invitational during the regular-season's final week.
The Michigan Wolverines come into the 2005 Big Ten Men's Golf Championships led by Christian Vozza. The junior has been the low-man in six of the team's 10 tournaments this season. During the 2004-2005 campaign, he has fired a scoring average of 74.89 and has a low round of 66; both marks are team-bests. Senior Rob Tighe has also performed solidly this season, recording a 75.24-shot per round average. Earlier in the season, the Wolverines finished sixth at the Northern Intercollegiate played at University Ridge. The 13-team field included five Big Ten squads. The sixth-place finish was the best for the Maize and Blue this season.
The country's 21st ranked team, the Michigan State Spartans come into the Big Ten Golf Championships as the number one seed, having finished in the top four in all but one tournament this season. The team's impressive record is highlighted by two tournament victories. During the last weekend of the regular-season, MSU hosted the Bruce Fossum/TaylorMade Invitational, in which the team finished tied for third. The squad is anchored by sophomore Matt Harmon and senior Andrew Ruthkoski. The pair are both in the nation's top 60, Harmon at 52nd and Ruthkoski at 58th. Both players have four top-five finishes this season to lead the team. Harmon has earned the fifth lowest stroke average in the conference this season, 72.80, and Ruthkoski owns the sixth, 72.84. Also contributing significantly for the Spartans is Ryan Brehm, ranked 140th nationally.
The 24th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers come in to the Big Ten Championships off of a first-place tie with Illinois and Xavier at the Fossum Invitational. The team was paced by senior Ben Greve who turned in a final round 66 to match Indiana's Jeff Overton for the tournament's medalist honor. Sophomore Bronson La'Cassie tied for 11th at the Fossum, but has been the leader on the course for the Gophers all year. With a scoring average of 72.2 for the year, he has led the team in five of their tournaments this season. Also in the school's five is Josh Persons. The squad's leader for the Maroon and Gold in the season's first two outings, Persons is ranked 149th in the country and has a scoring average of 74.2 on the year.
The Northwestern Wildcats are currently rated as the country's 64th best team, and are coming off of a fifth-place performance in the regular-season's final tournament. Led by sophomore Chris Wilson, the Wildcats have posted four top-five finishes this season. Wilson has paced the `Cats with a 74.36 scoring average and is tied for the team-lead in top-10 finishes, with three. Classmate David Merkow also has cracked the top-ten thrice this season, most recently at the Fossum Invitational, where he led the team with a fifth place-214. Merkow's final-round 67 at the Fossum tied teammate Dillon Dougherty for the low round of the season. The Wildcats will also be aided by freshman Kyle Moore, who has turned in a scoring-average of 75.82 during his first year in Evanston.
The defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes enter the 2005 conference championships ranked 73rd nationally. The Buckeyes are an underclassmen-dominated team, with three of their five competitors being either freshmen or sophomores, but they are led by the 112th ranked player in the country, senior Scott Anderson. His 72.7 scoring average is fourth in the conference this season. In addition to Anderson's success, sophomore Colin Biles has been very consistent since the beginning of the spring season. Pacing the Buckeyes in four straight tournaments before the season-finale at the Fossum, Biles has shot a 73.1 stroke per round average this year and has established the team's low score of the year at 65. After being out since the first week of March, sophomore Jamie Miller returned to the Buckeye lineup at the Fossum Invitational and finished tied for 11th, the highest Scarlet and Gray showing.
The Penn State Nittany Lions enter the 2005 Big Ten Men's Golf Championships coming off a first place finish at the Rutherford Intercollegiate Tournament during the regular season's final weekend. The win was fueled by the play of freshman Robert Rohanna, who finished the event in second with a nine-under, 207. Rohanna is currently second on the team in terms of scoring average at 74.57. Senior Mark Leon has paced the squad in that category with a mark of 74.32 shots per round. Leon enters the championships with two top-10 finishes in his last four tournaments. Also significant for the Lions will be senior Ted Neville. With a 74.60 scoring average, he holds the team's low round of the year at 66.
The Purdue Boilermakers enters the 2005 conference championships a well-rested team, having not competed in nearly three weeks. However, the 31st ranked team in the country comes in with some momentum nonetheless. The Boilers have finished in the top-10 of all 10 tournaments they have entered this season. The team is paced by four golfers who have jostled all season for the team's top spot. Sophomore Peter Richardson has barely edged out his teammates for the season's best scoring average at 73.3 strokes per round. Right behind are sophomores Pariya Junhasavasdikul (73.5) and Johan Edin (73.5) and senior Dustin Cone (73.8). In addition, freshmen Santiago Russi (74.6) will join the championship lineup. The last time the Boilermakers saw action was on their home course for the Boilermaker Invitational, in which they finished second overall and Edin, playing the tournament as an individual, took the title with a nine-under, 207.
The 87th ranked Wisconsin Badgers play host to the 2005 Big Ten Men's Golf Championship. After finishing first at the Northern Intercollegiate Invitational on their home course in the fall- over a field including four other Big Ten teams- the home-track advantage could be exceedingly favorable for the Badgers. The team is led by sophomore Garrett Jones who has a team best 72.8 scoring average and the squad's season-low round of 65. Jones finished the Northern tied for fourth, the highest of any Badger. In addition, freshman Jeff Kasier has been productive in his rookie campaign in Madison. Firing a 73.4 shot per round average, he has been a consistent top-20 finisher for Wisconsin all year.