Michigan State Wins Big Ten Men's Golf Championships

Freshman Ryan Brehm (pictured) and sophomore Matt Harmon led the championship charge for the Michigan State Spartans, finishing second and third respectively.

Freshman Ryan Brehm (pictured) and sophomore Matt Harmon led the championship charge for the Michigan State Spartans, finishing second and third respectively.

Madison, Wisc.-- With temperatures in the mid-70s and steady winds above 20 miles per hour, Michigan State claimed its first Big Ten Men's Golf Championship since 1969.  The Spartans shot a one-over, 289 to move out of a two-round tie with Indiana at Madison, Wisconsin's University Ridge Golf Course. 

The Spartans again used solid rounds from all of their golfers to maintain their lead.  While no Spartans had record-breaking rounds on Sunday, consistent play allowed them to preserve at least a share of the lead throughout the 54-hole championship.  After tying Indiana's Jeff Overton for the course record on Saturday, freshman Ryan Brehm found himself in the tournament's last group.  Brehm played steady throughout the final round of his first Big Ten Championship.  The freshman birdied two of the last three holes to finish the day at two-under, moving him to a 13-under, 203, good for second overall.  Senior Jimmy Chestnut fired the next low round for the Spartans, with an even, 72.  Sophomore Matt Harmon (+2) and senior Andrew Ruthkoski (+1) also contributed to the effort on Sunday. 

Despite his team falling out of contention, Overton held on to his personal lead to claim the individual title.  After back-to-back course record 65s, the Hoosier carded a three-under, 68 on Sunday to distance himself from Brehm.  His championship performance moved Overton's scoring average to 69.87 to win him the Les Bolstad Award, given annually to the Big Ten's golfer with the lowest scoring average of the season.  His 199 tied him with Ohio State's Kevin Hall for the lowest stroke average in Big Ten Championship history at 66.3.  

Overton used an incredible short game to work himself out of the rare trouble in which he found himself.  Up four strokes Overton attempted to drive the green on the 343-yard, par four, 15th.  However, his drive drifted right and landed in a green side bunker.  After Brehm played a conservative iron to the middle of the fairway and got to the green in two, Overton hit his 45-yard chip from the sand to within three feet of the hole.  With Overton's up and down, he increased his overall lead to four. 

Behind the winners, the day's best story came from the second straight round of impressive play from the Northwestern Wildcats.  After an eight-under, 280 on Saturday to move into a tie for fourth with Minnesota, the `Cats shot a nine-under, 279 on Sunday to finish third.  The `Cats were led by an impressive round by freshman Kyle Moore. After birding three of the first seven holes, Moore got to the green in two on the 554-yard ninth hole.  Moore drained his 20-yard putt for eagle, the second of the day on that hole for Northwestern.  Sophomore David Merkow had eagled the ninth hole in the previous group en route to a two-under, 70 in Sunday's final round.  With his impressive final round, Moore moved from a tie for ninth after Saturday to a tie for third place with MSU's Harmon after Sunday. 

Despite shooting two-under, 286 on the day, the Minnesota Golden Gophers were overtaken by the Wildcats.  The Maroon and Gold finished in fourth at 10-under.  None of the Gophers four scoring competitors on Sunday finished above par.  Junior Josh Persons led the final round effort with a two-under, highlighted by an eagle on nine. 

The Purdue Boilermakers went one-under on Sunday, but dropped a spot in the team standings, moving from a tie for fourth to fifth place overall.  The Boilers finished at three-under, 861. 

The defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes turned in the second best round of the day by shooting a five-under to move into sixth place.  Scarlet and Gray senior Scott Anderson led the way with a four-under, 68.  Junior Zack Randol and sophomore Colin Biles each posted one-under, 70s to aid the Buckeye cause. 

The host Wisconsin Badgers finished seventh after shooting a two-over, 290 on the last 18 holes.  Senior Kevin Tassistro shot a four-under, 68 in his last round of Big Ten competition. 

Penn State finished the championship in eighth place at a 12-over, 876.  The Nittany Lions were led throughout the three-day event by senior Mark Leon.  On Sunday he shot a one-under, 71 to end the tournament in fifth. 

Rounding out the team scoring was Iowa in ninth with a 14-over, and Michigan at plus-18, and Illinois in 11th at 26-over.