Hoosiers Poised for Big Season
Sept. 4, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, ind. - Narrowly missing out on its fourth straight trip to the postseason, the 2007-08 edition of the Indiana men's golf team returns with great expectations. With a roster featuring seven returning letterwinners, three talented freshmen and a team that captured two team titles in the spring of 2007, Hoosier head coach Mike Mayer is excited with the prospects for his 10th season in Bloomington.
"This is the deepest roster we have ever had, and we have more talent than ever before," Mayer said. "We have the personnel on this team to make a run this season, and we won't back down from anyone. This could be the year we make a run on the national stage."
First team All-Big Ten honoree Jorge Campillo comes in as the team's No. 1 golfer after a dominant summer where he represented Europe on the Palmer Cup team, reached the quarterfinals of the British Amateur and won the prestigious Sofitel Biarritz Cup. The 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year carded his second straight first team All-Big Ten honor and finished the 2006-07 season with a 73.76 scoring average. His 73.21 career mark trails only PGA Tour member Jeff Overton in the Hoosier record book.
The Caceres, Spain, native claimed medalist honors on a pair of occasions last season. He shared first at the GADO North Texas Classic and followed that up with sole possession atop the leaderboard at the Pinehurst Intercollegiate. Campillo advanced to the NCAA Central Regionals, extending the Hoosiers streak to five straight seasons with a presence in the postseason.
"Jorge had the kind of summer he needed to have," Mayer said. "Going into last spring, Jorge plateaued a little bit. We made a couple changes and some of those changes started to pay off at the Palmer Cup. He played outstanding in making the final eight at the British Amateur. We continue to look for Jorge to improve and become a dominant force not only in the Big Ten but on a national stage."
Campillo is joined by a duo of classmates who are hungry to join him in the lineup. Seth Brandon closed the 2006-07 season with a 75.86 scoring average and played in all 12 of the Hoosier tournaments (35 rounds). The Dalton, Ga., native netted the second top five of his career with a tie for fourth (74-74) at the Boilermaker Invitational and carded his fourth-career top 10 after rounds of 76, 75 and 74 at the GADO North Texas Classic.
"Seth has as much talent as anybody on this golf team," Mayer said. "He has that kind of talent. We have to harness, control and help him understand his talent. If we can help him better understand what he is capable of doing, his results will continue to get better and better and better. Seth has an opportunity not only to be a great collegiate golfer, but he has a chance after his college career is complete to keep progressing in this sport."
Right behind Brandon, Drew Allenspach carded a 76.03 scoring average in 35 rounds of action. He joined Brandon and Campillo as the only three Hoosiers to appear in each of the team's tournaments. A first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V selection, Allenspach recorded his third-career top 10 and seven top-25 finishes last season.
"With what Drew has accomplished his first two seasons, expectations certainly have risen," Mayer said. "He has been a very integral part of what we have done the last two years, and I expect him to continue his role this year. He's a natural leader and he works harder than anyone else on this team. What we need from Drew is a little more consistency, especially in his short game. It is going to be difficult to keep Drew out of the lineup this season."
Santiago Quirarte returns for his senior season and looks to use his experience and leadership to bounce back from the conclusion of his junior campaign. Quirarte appeared in 29 rounds and posted a 77.24 average. He did record his fourth-career top 10 after tying for ninth at the Landfall Tradition, and his 75.01 career scoring average ranks 11th in school history.
"After a disappointing end to his junior season, Santiago worked hard this summer back home in Mexico," Mayer said. "I look for Santiago to have the kind of year he had his sophomore season when he was the No. 2 golfer on this team. If we get that kind of performance from him, this team is going to be an extremely good golf club."
Along with Quirarte, Alex Martin saw action in 29 rounds as a true freshman. He nearly matched Quirarte with a 77.34 average and gained valuable experience, which he used in an impressive summer. Martin qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship and finished third overall and as the low amateur at the Ohio Open Championship. During the season, Martin netted his best finish with a tie for 18th at the Pinehurst Intercollegiate.
"In addition to his qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, Alex played exceptional golf in his home state of Ohio this summer," Mayer said. "He won the Cincinnati Metropolitan Championships, played very well in the Ohio Amateur Championship and finished third in the Ohio Open Championship. We think Alex has a lot of positives to his game. He got himself in the lineup as a freshman, and we think it'll be very hard to keep him out of the top five this year."
A fourth junior, Brandon Pike, has shown promise and the potential to be a key contributor for the Hoosiers this season. Pike did play in five tournaments and 15 rounds last season after averaging a 76.00 in 11 rounds as a true freshman. The LaFontaine, Ind., native averaged a 78.67 in 2006-07, but he did corral two top-30 finishes, including a tie for 29th at the Pinehurst Intercollegiate.
"Brandon has been a little streaky for us," Mayer said. "He has a lot of potential, can shoot low numbers and can play with most anyone in the country, but we have to get him to do that on a consistent basis. If we can do that, Brandon can play and challenge for a spot in the lineup. When he brings his `A' game, he is tough to beat."
The team's eldest statesman, Tad Sacheck, comes back as a fifth-year senior this season. Although he has seen action at just two events in his career, Sacheck is a hard-worker who is always up for a challenge. Last year, he tied for 42nd at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate played at the Wolf Run Golf Club in his hometown of Zionsville, Ind.
"Tad is a kid that is hard to figure out sometimes," Mayer said. "We have challenged him time and time again, and he has not given up. He had a great summer - without a doubt his best summer of golf since being here. Tad has the ball-striking skills, if he can show us he has the short game skills he can have a great senior season."
Eric Serch, just the third walk-on during Mayer's tenure in Bloomington, has not competed in an event in his two seasons. However, the junior is a grinder and can routinely be found on the golf course.
"Eric is another young man who is going to have to work extremely hard to find a way into the lineup, but he had a tremendous summer in his home country of Spain," Mayer said. "He also has the ball-striking skills, but he lacks the experience. Hopefully he gained some of that experience playing virtually every week this summer."
Ben Bellville (Granger, Ind./Penn), Ren Han (Richmond, British Columbia/Charles E. London) and Paul Park (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Valley) give the Hoosiers a trio of freshmen who add to the Hoosiers depth and could vie for playing time instantly.
Bellville was a member of the 2006 Northern Indiana Conference and regional champion teams at Penn High School. He captured conference medalist honors in 2005 and finished second in 2006. Bellville also won sectional medalist honors in 2005 and advanced to the state finals in 2004, '05 and '06.
"What attracted me about Ben was his willingness to play competitive golf," Mayer said. "Ben continues to work hard, and we think he has the opportunity to come in here and play. He had some very solid tournaments this summer and has the kind of experience we need from a freshman coming in. He doesn't back down from any competition."
Han is the first Chinese-born athlete to play men's collegiate golf in the United States. He moved to Richmond, British Columbia, in 2003 and played at Charles E. London High School. Han has played in five professional events in China, most recently the European Tour's Volvo China Masters.
"Ren is improving everyday," Mayer said. "We really think he will make an immediate impact on this team. He has that kind of ability, talent, passion and drive. Ren has played tournament after tournament after tournament this summer and played extremely well. I think he is going to be in the top five in this lineup."
Park will be the first New Jersey native to play golf for the Hoosiers. A two-time first team all-state honoree at Wayne Valley High School, Park also captured all-region honors on three occasions.
"Paul continues to get better and better," Mayer said. "The key thing with Paul is he has played golf at the highest level. He knows what he has to do, and I think he is going to outwork everybody on this golf team. If he does that, Paul has the ability to play golf with us right away."
The Hoosiers will play some of the most recognizable courses in the country, including Inverness Club (Toledo, Ohio), Olympia Fields Country Club (Chicago, Ill.), Sawgrass Country Club (Point Vedra, Fla.) and Pinehurst Country Club (Pinehurst, N.C.). Inverness, Olympia Fields and Pinehurst have all hosted U.S. Opens, while Sawgrass is the former home of the PGA Tour's Players Championship.
IU will also host three tournaments, beginning with the Wolf Run Intercollegiate (Sept. 22-23) at Wolf Run Golf Club in Zionsville, Ind. Indiana will host the Pinehurst Intercollegiate (March 16-18) for the third straight season before heading home for the Hoosier Invitational (March 29-30) at the IU Championship Golf Course.
Indiana will wrap up its regular season at the Big Ten Championships (April 25-27) hosted by Michigan State University on the Forest Akers West Course. NCAA Regionals will be hosted on May 15-17 at Council Fire Golf Club in Chattanooga, Tenn., (East Regional); Scarlet Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio, (Central Regional); and Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash. (West Regional). Purdue University will host the NCAA Finals at Kampen on May 28-31.
"This is, by far, the toughest and best schedule that we've put together for our men's golf team since I've been associated with the program," Mayer said. "I would match this schedule up against any program in the country. It not only gives us the opportunity to compete against the best programs in the country, it also gives us the opportunity to compete on some of the best golf courses in the country. I can't wait for the season to start. It is going to be exciting, it is going to be fun, and I think we will be up to the challenge."
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