Men's spring preview: Big Ten Conference
During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the spring season for each conference. Today, we look at the Big Ten Conference:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Illinois
• Player to watch: Brian Campbell, Illinois: After opening with T-23 at the Fighting Illini Invitational, he didn’t finish outside the top-10 and won the MacDonald Cup.
• Freshman to watch: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Northwestern: The U.S. Amateur champion tied for medalist honors at the Rod Myers Invitational, where the team won its second event.
• Conference championship: May 2-4, French Lick (Ind.) Resort
• Past champions (since 2009): Illinois (2009-13)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Illinois (No. 6) : The Illini won two events this fall – the Wolf Run Intercollegiate and The MacDonald Cup. The team finished sixth at its own Fighting Illini Invitational and then fifth at the season-ending Isleworth Collegiate Invitational. Brian Campbell finished 18 th in the Golfweek Rankings as he finished the fall with a win and two other top-10 finishes. Sophomore Thomas Detry also picked up a win this fall at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate and had two other top-10 finishes. The NCAA runners-up will be able to contend in years to come as the team is very young.
- Northwestern (No. 31) : The Wildcats finished 15th out of 15 teams at the Fighting Illini Invitational, but when they played in its next four tournaments, they never finished outside the top-five, including two wins at the Windon Memorial and the Rod Myers Invitational. Senior Jack Perry ended the fall with four top-10 finishes, while freshman Matthew Fitzpatrick earned his first college victory and was runner-up at the Windon Memorial.
- Purdue (No. 42) : Four players – Austin Eoff, Enzo Perez, Philippe Schweizer and Adam Schenk – played in all five tournaments this fall. Each player had a stroke average under 75.00. After leading the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate, the Boilermakers finished in second for its best result of the season. The team also finished second at the Crooked Stick Invitational.
- Iowa (No. 43) : T-6 at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate were the team’s best finish of the fall. At No. 122, senior Steven Ihm is the highest ranked player in the Golfweek Rankings.
- Indiana (No. 61) : The Hoosiers best finished was 5th at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate and the Pinetree Intercollegiate. Senior David Mills had three top-12 finishes this fall and ended with a 73.73 stroke average. Mills, Max Kollin, Nicholas Grubnich and Will Seger played all 15 rounds this fall, while Andrew Havill played 12 rounds.
- Ohio State (No. 62) : The team’s best finish was at the Windon Memorial, where the Buckeyes finished T-4 at The Knollwood Club. Junior Boo Timko was the only Buckeye to record a top-10 finish this fall at the Rod Myers Invitational (T-4).
- Minnesota (No. 68) : The Gophers played in a whopping six tournaments this fall and walked away with a victory at the Barnabas Health Intercollegiate and the programs first since the 2006-07 season. Just the week before, at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, the team finished under-par for the first time since 2010. Both of these feats are accomplishments in themselves.
- Michigan (No. 111) : The Wolverines didn’t collect a victory this fall, but sophomore Chris O’Neill did. O’Neill won his first collegiate victory at the Windon Memorial. He was also the low man for the team in each of the first tournaments.
- Michigan State (No. 134) : Won the Wolverine Intercollegiate and finished second at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic. Sophomore Mitch Rutledge and redshirt freshman Sean Friel claimed the Spartans two top-fives of the fall as individuals.
- Nebraska (No. 137) : Best finish was a sixth place finish at the Price’s ‘Give Em Five’ Invitational.
- Penn State (No. 138) : The Nittany Lions finished sixth at the Wolverine Intercollegiate. J.D. Dorners, Xander McDonald-Smith and Jens Talbert played all 15 rounds and racked up four top-10s between them.
- Wisconsin (No. 148) : Sixth place finish at the team’s first tournament – the Wolf Run Intercollegiate – was the highlight of the fall season.