Men's preview: Big Ten Conference

Men's preview: Big Ten Conference

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Men's preview: Big Ten Conference

The message was delivered during a meeting late last April, before Purdue’s Tyler Duncan went home for the summer after another maddening season.

“Just play golf,” implored his coach, Devon Brouse.

No more tinkering with mechanics. No more trying to create the perfect swing. Duncan was a good player — he played out of the No. 1 spot during his freshman season — who endured a sophomore slump that, unfortunately, had lasted another year.

That simple reminder from Brouse — just play golf — apparently made a significant impact, as Duncan went out a few weeks later and won the Indiana Amateur. Now, after a spectacular fall season in which he finished in the top 8 in four of his five starts, he has ascended to a career-best 25th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.

“It was a watershed moment,” Brouse said. “Since that time, he’s just been a different player.”

For a senior, Duncan still doesn’t have much experience contending in tournaments, and he’s still learning how to win. That much was evident in September at the Northern Intercollegiate, where he was tied for the lead when he three-putted the final green to lose by one. Nonetheless, it’s a marked departure from his play in the past two seasons, when his national ranking dipped into the 400s.

Said Brouse: “In retrospect, he was probably getting too much information and listening to too many people instead of playing golf and doing what comes naturally to an athlete.”

Duncan’s emergence comes at an ideal time for Purdue as it attempts to compete in a Big Ten Conference that, outside of favorite Illinois, is more wide-open than it has been in years.

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Top of the class: Illinois

Best player this fall: Luke Guthrie, Illinois

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Past champions

2007: Michigan State/Minnesota

2008: Michigan State

2009: Illinois

2010: Illinois

2011: Illinois

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Conference capsules

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Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

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