IU Men's Golf Season Preview
Sept. 1, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana Hoosiers enter the 2008-09 campaign in pursuit of tournament titles. With the top four players from last season's squad that finished 21st in the NCAAs all returning, the Cream and Crimson look to be in contention for Big Ten and NCAA Championships in May '09.
"From top to bottom this has to be one of, if not the most, talented group of players we've had since I've been here," said Head Coach Mike Mayer. "We'll be led by a strong group of experienced upperclassmen with a bunch of talented, hungry younger guys fighting for time in the lineup."
Big Ten Champion and Player of the Year Jorge Campillo headlines the Hoosier lineup after finishing in a tie for second place at the 2008 NCAA Championship. Campillo's 72.68 career scoring average through his first three seasons at IU ranks second all-time in the Hoosier record books. The Caceres, Spain native continued to shine over the summer, serving as captain for the victorious European team in the Palmer Cup. He also earned medalist honors at the Spanish National Amateur and ended the summer ranked #3 in the World Amateur Rankings. "Jorge's goal is simple, to lead this team to Big Ten and NCAA Championships," said Mayer. "He's one of the best players to ever play at Indiana University and it's going to be an honor and privilege to coach him his senior year."
Fellow senior Seth Brandon is also one of the premier golfers in the Big Ten, earning second team all-conference honors in 2008. Brandon has shown the ability to place his name at the top of the leaderboard, winning a pair of individual tournament titles in his career. His 216 at last season's Pinehurst Intercollegiate earned him medalist honors and led the Hoosiers to their second consecutive team title at the event.
"Seth has the skills to challenge Jorge for the top spot," said Mayer. "He has that level of talent, he just needs to put it all together. From a ball-striking standpoint, there's none better."
Academic All-American Drew Allenspach also brings a load of playing experience to the table this year, having donned the Cream and Crimson the past three seasons. He tallied three top-10 finishes last year, including a fifth place showing at the Mizzou Tiger Classic. Allenspach exemplifies what it means to be an IU student-athlete, giving 100-percent on the course and in the classroom.
"What Drew Allenspach brings to this program is passion and he brings a lot it," said Mayer. "He has the talent, the ability, the passion, he has it all and we're really looking for him to be the guy that gives us a spark when we need it most, shooting some unbelievable rounds of golf."
As a sophomore, Alex Martin played in all 14 events for the Hoosiers and looks to remain in the lineup again in 2008-09. The St. Xavier High School (Ohio) product racked up seven top-25 finishes and placed 19th at Big Tens last season. Martin put in a lot of work on his golf game over the summer, playing in multiple tournaments and winning the Cincinnati Metropolitan Amateur.
"Alex continues to get better after another big summer," said Mayer. "He is going to come in this fall and push the top of the lineup. He's a guy we are really going to count on this year to fight for a top spot on the team."
The fifth spot in the lineup is likely a seven-man battle that includes two upperclassmen, two sophomores and a trio of freshmen. Senior Brandon Pike has shown the potential to find some time in the lineup following an outstanding summer. Pike is a confident, committed golfer that plays with a lot of passion.
"We are looking for someone to seize the lineup spot and Brandon Pike is definitely one of the people who can do it," said Mayer. "He wants to have a big senior year and he has the ability to do so."
Sophomore Ren Han earned several opportunities in the lineup as a freshman and is expected to be in the mix for more chances this season. Han posted a 217 at the '08 Pinehurst Intercollegiate, giving him a share of second place at the event. "You don't finish second in an intercollegiate tournament like Pinehurst without a ton of talent," said Mayer. "Once he learns to understand the game a bit better, he will play with the best of them. He is going to fight for a starting spot."
Paul Park is another second-year player that cracked the lineup as a rookie. Park got the starting nod at the UNCG Bridgestone Classic, shooting a 230 and finishing in a tie for 69th place.
"Paul is as athletically talented as anybody on the golf team," said Mayer. "He has a great golf swing and I think he will push for a spot in the lineup."
Redshirt junior Eric Serch and redshirt freshman Ben Bellville will also be vying for a slot in the starting five. Serch is a walk-on that found his way into three events in 2008, playing eight rounds for the Hoosiers.
"Ball-striking wise, Eric's as good as anybody else on the team," said Mayer. "We just have to get him better around the green. If we can do that, this guy can play some high-level golf."
After taking a redshirt, Bellville looks to ride his red-hot summer play into the collegiate season. Bellville's most impressive performance was at the Indianapolis Amateur Championship, winning the event with a 10-under total of 130 (66-64).
"Ben can hit the ball a long way, has the strength to play and has the desire to play," said Mayer. "This could be an interesting year for Ben."
Rounding out the competition for time in the lineup is a pair of true freshman in David Erdy and Chase Wright. Neither player is a stranger to big-time golf having played in multiple national-level tournaments over the summer.
"They are both going to come in here with confidence like most freshman do and think they can defeat the world," said Mayer.
"They will immediately push the older players. If either one of those two are in the top-five of this golf team this year we're going to be pretty good."
The schedule for 2008-09 is stacked with big-name courses and big-time intercollegiate golf tournaments. A group of four `majors' serves as the base for this season's docket with other competitive events surrounding the `majors,' including the adidas Hoosier Invitational on April 11-12.
"We built this schedule around the four major tournaments," said Mayer. "These are arguably the top four collegiate golf tournaments in the nation all year long."
The first of the majors is the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational from Sept. 19-21. Indiana's next major tournament will be held at Tiger Woods' home course, Isleworth. The UCF Isleworth Collegiate is scheduled for Oct. 26-28. The spring season begins with back-to-back major competitions in the Collegiate Match Play Championship (Mar. 22-24) and United States Collegiate Championship (Apr. 5-7).
"This schedule was developed to challenge our team," said Mayer. "We have the right nucleus on this team to be pushed. It is the toughest schedule we've played in my 20 years of being involved with the team. We're not doing it just for the sake of playing a tough schedule, we're doing it to prepare the players for a run at the NCAA Championship."
Check back soon