Men's Golf

    IU Golf Showing Signs of Old

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!
    It has now been six years since Indiana University has had champion golf teams. Both the men's and women's teams captured their respective Big Ten titles in 1998, marking perhaps the most celebrated year in IU golf history.

    Upon the conclusion of the 1998 spring term, Sam Carmichael, who doubled as head coach for both teams, directed his attention solely to women's team, leaving his assistant Mike Mayer in charge of the men.

    In those five years, Mayer has had the difficult task of rebuilding the Hoosier golf program literally from the ground floor up. In his first year at the helm, Mayer's Hoosiers placed 10th in the Big Ten, followed by ninth and 11th-place finishes in 2000 and 2001, respectively.

    To Mayer's credit, just as the case with any new coach, Mayer was coaching another coach's kids.

    But little by little, and one recruit at a time, the rebuilding process has significantly progressed.

    And before we break down the key factors to the Hoosiers' success this year, the following are staggering statistics that only strengthens and supports the potential of the 2003 squad.

    • The Hoosiers continue to be a force in their district, defeating top-ranked teams each week, and increasing their stock for an elusive NCAA berth.

    • Indiana's single-round team average of 293.57 is two-and-a-half strokes better than the current school record of 296.06, set by the 1990-91 team.

    • By finishing in the top five Sunday, this is the first time a Hoosier squad has finished in the top-five in three consecutive tournaments since the 1996-97 season 4th, Southeastern Intercollegiate; 4th, Dr. Pepper Intercollegiate; 3rd, Marshall Invitational). Indiana finished second at the Johnny Owens and tied for second at the Marshall Invitational prior to the Kepler Intercollegiate.

    • Last week, sophomore Jeff Overton became the second Hoosier in as many weeks to walk away with Big Ten Men's Golfer of the Week honors, after taking second place in the Marshall Invitational. Overton's honor comes on the heels of classmate Heath Peters' Big Ten accolade two weeks ago.

    • Overton's fourth-place tie at the Kepler Intercollegiate and back-to-back runner-up finishes the last three weeks, marks the best outing for an Indiana men's golfer over a three-week span, since Steve Wheatcroft in 2000. (1st - Xavier Invitational, 2nd - Legends Intercollegiate, T-5th - Big Red Classic.

    • Currently, Overton, a member of last year's All-Big Ten team, holds a 72.43 stroke average through 30 rounds, which is third best in school history-bettered only by three-time Big Ten Player of the Year Randy Leen (72.02) and 1991 All-American and current PGA Tour star Shaun Micheel (72.08).

    • Indiana announced the hiring of Josh Brewer as its new assistant coach on March 1.

    • The Hoosiers hosted the Northern Intercollegiate in the fall, and are set to host the Big Ten Championships, May 2-4.

    Looking for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T
    Throughout the 2003 season, Mayer and the Hoosiers have been waiting for a little respect to come their way. Both the national polls and district rankings seem to pass on the Hoosiers each week, even though Indiana has been beating top-ranked teams in the past three weeks.

    IU has not been ranked in the Golfweek/Sagarin ranking's Top-100 in the past three weeks, but have continuously beaten teams ranked above them. The following table shows the results of the last three tournaments, including the teams' rankings and order of finish. The Hoosiers have clearly defeated some of the top teams in the region and should be rewarded with a higher position in the district rankings. The top six in the district receive NCAA berths on May 4.

    Distrcit IV Rankings
    Top Ten Teams (4/8)
    1 Minnesota
    2 Northwestern
    3 Illinois
    4 Michigan St.
    5 Kentucky
    6 Toledo
    7 Kent State
    8 Indiana
    8 Purdue
    10 Louisville
    10 Ohio State
    Johnny Owens (4/1)
    2nd - 15 teams
    1. #24 Vanderbilt
    2. #109 Indiana
    3. #41 Kentucky
    4. NR Eastern Ky.
    5. #77 Ark-L.R.
    6. #71 Miami (Ohio)
    7. #83 Louisville
    Marshall Invite (4/5)
    T-2nd - 16 teams
    1. #24 Vanderbilt
    2. #103 Indiana
    2 #41 Kentucky
    4. NR Eastern Ky.
    5. #77 Ark-L.R.
    6 #71 Miami (Ohio)
    NR Eastern Ky.
    NR Ball State
    9. #83 Louisville
    Kepler Invite (4/13)
    4th - 18 teams
    1. #74 Ohio State
    2. #26 Illinois
    3. #43 Kentucky
    4. #101 Indiana
    5. #80 Miami (Ohio)
    6. #68 Kent State
    7. #20 Northwestern
    . #64 Purdue
    9. #41 Toledo

    Seniors Key to Success
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    A champion team in any sport cannot be successful without senior leadership. In 2003, two seniors - Ben Davidson and Aldo Jordan - have continuously played in the top five for the Hoosiers and have contributed greatly to Indiana's success so far this year.

    As a junior in 2002, Davidson tied for sixth at the Big Ten Championships, while averaging 74.94 over 33 rounds. The Indianapolis, Ind., native has played each position in the Hoosiers' top three this year, and has proved through his actions on the course in 2003 why he is the captain of this team.

    "This summer coach and I talked about how much I could help the team this year and I told him I was willing to do whatever was needed for our team to be successful," said Davidson. "Leadership is key for a team to succeed, and it was just an honor to be captain of this team."

    Jordan is coming off an impressive performance at the Kepler Intercollegiate over the weekend. The Lima, Peru native tied for 13th place overall at 8-over-par 224.

    "Aldo is really showing strong senior leadership for us down the stretch," said Mayer. "This is the type of play we expect out of him each tournament. He played very well last weekend at Ohio State, and we are looking to him for consistent low scores as we wind up the year."

    It's the "Relatively-Unknowns" That Make Champions
    In a remarkable two-year span, Mayer has landed "relatively-unknowns" from the region and has helped them become some of the top golfers in the Midwest.

    Mayer is coming off his most productive recruiting class of his tenure, as last year's freshmen ranked eighth in the nation according to Golfstat.

    The trio of Jeff Overton, Heath Peters and Rob Ockenfuss turned heads last year as the Hoosier newcomers and continue to do so in 2003.

    Overton is on pace to have one of the top season scoring averages in school history. Currently, Overton, a member of last year's All-Big Ten team, holds a 72.43 stroke average through 30 rounds, which is third best in school history. Last year, Overton ended the season with a team-leading 74.45 stroke average in 31 rounds. His average marked the lowest season average of any freshmen in school history. Overton was closely followed by Peters however, who ended the season with an average of 74.89 in 32 rounds.

    Overton is only the fourth freshman in school history ever to receive All-Big Ten honors. He is the first recipient since Rob Jackson received the honor for posting a 74.64 average in 28 rounds back in 1974. Hoosier All-American Gary Biddinger (1970) and Don Padgett II (1969) are the other two Hoosiers to have been awarded the honor.

    3!-- ... -->

    Peters is also backing up his freshmen debut with a solid second-year performance. Just two weeks ago, the Garrett, Ind., native was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week after he collected his first collegiate title at the Johnny Owens Invitational. En route to his win, Peters stormed past Vanderbilt's Brandt Snedeker, who was ranked by Golfweek/Sagarin as the No. 1 golfer in the nation.

    For Peters though, his win might never have happened if it wasn't for Mayer showing interest in him.

    "I mainly stuck around Indiana and played, while other guys would go off to national tournaments where all the college coaches would be. I wasn't sure if anyone knew about me," he said.

    During his junior year of high school though, Peters qualified for the United States Junior Amateur in Portland, Ore. After an impressive performance out West, where he was one of the first Indiana players to advance to the second round of match play in a number of years, college coaches began talking to Peters, and quite often to boot. One of those coaches was Mayer.

    "I really started to get recognized out in Portland," recalls Peters. "I met Coach Mayer there and he expressed quite a bit of interest in me."

    And the rest is just short, but successful history.

    Freshman Scott Seibert wasn't necessarily an "unknown" to the Missouri state junior circuit, but Mayer felt he could get a jump on other college coaches and snatch the young Chesterfield, Mo., product.

    While Seibert has remained in the lineup for the most part of the year, the Hoosier frosh made quite the impact in his first tournament. In fact, it was on his first hole.

    Seibert holed out for eagle on his first hole of his collegiate career at the Northern Intercollegiate, which led to a feature in Golfweek magazine. He competed as an individual in the event, and carded a 222 (76-72-74) to finish tied for 56th. His performance at the Northern earned him a spot in the Wolverine Invitational lineup, where there he carded a trio of 72s for a 10th-place tie at 216.

    Mayer's other top freshman in 2003 is Brad Marek. A native of Arlington Heights, Ill., Marek has seen limited action this year, but not so much because of any kind of bad play. There have been occasions this year, where players will shoot around par and be left at home, because they still can't break the top-five. The Hoosier depth can be awfully intimidating at times.

    But, when Mayer has given him the opportunity, Marek has stepped to the tee. In fact, over Spring Break, Marek and Ockenfuss competed as individuals in a 21-man field located close to the El Diablo Intercollegiate, which the men's team was playing in.

    Marek won the event with a two-round total of 3-under-par 141 (70-71). Ockenfuss finished second, one stroke back at 142 (-2).

    "I think this really shows the depth of our squad," Mayer said. "Brad and Rob had exceptional tournaments. We gave them a chance to go out there and impress us and they certainly did."

    Rejoining the Hoosier Family

    4!-- ... -->
    On March 1 of this year, Mayer selected former Hoosier academic All-American Josh Brewer, as Indiana's new assistant coach. Brewer replaced Mike Kemper, who elected to begin a sales position outside of the golf profession.

    Brewer is not new to Indiana, as he played on the IU men's golf team from 1995-98. During his tenure at Indiana, the Brownstown, Ind., native carded a 76.33 stroke average over 139 rounds.

    "I couldn't be more thrilled to have Josh come back to the Hoosier family," Mayer said. "Having been affiliated with this golf program for 14 years, I can honestly say that Josh was the hardest worker I have ever seen, and that's what I expect him to bring to this program. He also brings a lot of intensity to the table right away, which will do nothing but help this team."

    The new Hoosier assistant has stated that his top priority is to work and prepare the current Hoosier team for the same championship competition he longed during his stay at IU.

    "It is a great opportunity for me to come back to my alma mater," said Brewer. "Our goal is to get this program back to the top of the Big Ten. I would really like to see our program compete not only in our district, but on a national level as well."

    For Brewer, it was his performance in championship-caliber tournaments that highlighted his golfing resume.

    Known for his extraordinary work ethic and determination, Brewer made an immediate impact at Indiana as a freshman in 1994. He won the Legends Invitational with a 214 (73-68-73), en route to the team's third-best average that season of 77.36.

    Playing as Indiana's No. 2 golfer, Brewer finished tied for second place in the 1998 Big Ten Championships, Indiana's most recent conference title. One year prior, he finished tied for eighth at the conference championship. During his sophomore year, Brewer competed in 38 rounds, including the 1996 NCAA Championships.

    "When Josh played at Indiana, I felt that he was an overachiever," Mayer said. "His amazing work ethic is what helped him become a really good golfer. He brings a lot of enthusiasm, intensity, and a wealth of playing experience to the table for us."

    "In Order to Recruit, You Have to Have Facilities"
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    This past year, Mayer, who also serves as Director of Golf for the IU Golf Course, played a key role in opening a team-only practice facility for both the men's and women's teams. And this was just no ordinary pitch-and-putt practice green. This was an immaculate facility that gave the Hoosiers one of the top practice areas in the country.

    "In order to recruit, you have to have facilities," Mayer said. "I believe that this is the premier practice facility in the country and by far the best in the Big Ten. This is a huge recruiting tool, and we know that by the looks on a recruit's face when he sees this facility."

    Mayer has also been avid about renovations and upgrades to the 45-year old university course. Just this past fall, Mayer and course superintendent Brent Emerick, began an extensive facelift project on the course, which included resizing and configuring the existing bunkers on the course.

    "This golf course really needed new bunkers because our old sand traps were certainly not up-to-par as far as the current standards are concerned," said Mayer. "This was a great aesthetic project that was long overdue and we're going to be having this course looking really good in a few weeks. The white sand is very attractive to the eye and I think the course will gain a lot of interest from area golfers."

    As for Mayer's Hoosier squad, the men will now be able to practice and play under the same bunker conditions.

    "We will now have the same type of sand that we have at our practice facility, which will make my players extremely comfortable," said Mayer. "The sand won't be hard and I think the players will have better and certainly more accurate results with their shots."

    Each of the course's 20 bunkers are being resized and configured, edged and filled with Best Signature white sand. Zoysia grass will surround the outside of the finished traps. The old bunkers contained sand that was not only up-to-par for collegiate course bunkers, but was very susceptible to erosion.

    With the new lining and drainage system in place, the sand bunkers will be protected against erosion and soil contamination.

    "We're stripping the bunkers down bare and reshaping a lot of them," said Emerick. "In the past, our bunkers have been very susceptible to erosion and often had a lot of soil contamination in them. With this renovation though, the lining on bottom and the plastic edge that will surround the interface of the bunkers will prevent such occurrences from happening."

    The Fire Has Been Lit
    6!-- ... -->
    With another impressive freshman class expected for the 2003-04 campaign, Mayer and the Hoosiers are set to rekindle the fire that brought the Indiana men's golf team a Big Ten Championship in 1998. IU nearly accomplished that feat by contending for the title last season.

    That fire has been re-lit under this year's squad and the Hoosiers have shown in the past three weeks that they can compete with anyone. Recent performances have proven that IU men's golf appears to be on the verge of achieving greatness once again.

    Nonetheless, the Hoosiers have taken tremendous strides in the past five years and have done nothing but reestablish themselves as a championship-caliber squad and a contender in the Big Ten.



     

     


       

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