2009 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS: The Minnesota men’s golf team travels to State College, Pa. for the 2009 Big Ten Championships this weekend in hopes of garnering the school’s eighth conference title. The Gophers last came away with the title in 2007. Last season, the Gophers finished second to Michigan State.
The 72-hole championship will be played at Penn State Blue Course located near the Penn State University Campus. The 7,150 yard, par 72 layout consists of two par 5’s, five par 4’s and two par 3’s on the front nine as well as on the back nine. The teams will play 36 holes on May 1 and 18 holes on May 2 and May 3. The entire tournament can be followed live at www.golfstat.com.
THE FIELD: The Indiana Hoosiers are the highest ranked Big Ten team heading into the championships at 13th, according to the most recent Golfweek rankings. Illinois is right behind at 14th. Other rankings include: Michigan State (31), Michigan (45), Ohio State (52), Northwestern (56), Penn State (59), Iowa (60), Minnesota (68), Purdue (80) and Wisconsin (81).
Jorge Campillo of Indiana is the highest ranking individual in the championship at 2nd overall with a rating of 69.27 while Illinois’ Scott Langley is ranked 25th with a rating of 70.67. Minnesota junior Ben Pisani is the highest ranked Gopher at 141st.
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: The Gophers have won seven Big Ten Championships since the inaugural 1921 event, including three (2002, 2003, 2007) in seven years, tied with Michigan State for the most in that span. The 2003 Gophers won the title with a tournament-record 72-hole score of 1,122. Ohio State has dominated the event, taking home a conference- best 23 championships. Michigan and Purdue have each won 12 titles while Indiana and Northwestern have seven titles apiece.
Individually, seven Minnesota golfers have brought home medalist honors, including two by Minnesota golf pioneer Les Bolstad (1927 & 1929). Other Gopher medalist were James Teale (1943), Bill Brask (1968), Dave Haberle (1971), Jim Bergeson (1972), John Harris (1974) and Matt Anderson (2003).
THE GOPHERS: The Gophers lineup will consist of seniors Victor Almstrom and Yu Katayama, juniors Thomas Campbell and Ben Pisani and freshman Derek Chang. Almstrom, Campbell and Pisani all competed in the 2008 Big Ten Championships, finishing in a tie for fifth, a tie for 31st and ninth, respectively. Katayama and Chang are making their Big Ten Championship debuts.
UP NEXT: The NCAA regionals are scheduled for May 14-17. Minnesota will know it’s regional fate on May 4.