Hoosiers Finish Northern Fifth
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - After the last scorecard was signed on Sunday, the Indiana University men's golf team could smile a bit, even in the midst of disappointment.
The Hoosiers did not finish first in the Northern Intercollegiate, which was hosted at the IU Golf Course this weekend. They didn't even finish in the top-three. What they did do, was battle back from a horrid first-round 295 and answer with rounds of 282 and 283 - their lowest rounds of the year - and finish tied for fifth with 860 alongside Big Ten rival Ohio State.
The Northern marked the first collegiate event Indiana has hosted since the 1993 Big Ten Championships.
The golf course played soft, allowing golfers to aim at the pins this weekend. Hoosier freshman Scott Seibert holed out for an eagle Saturday on his very first collegiate golf hole played. Hole No. 15 provided fireworks Sunday, as in the same group, individual champion James Lepp (Illinois, -11, 202) lipped out from 120 yards only to be followed by Indiana's Jeff Overton who nearly broke the flagstick in half with his approach shot.
Needless to say, golfers were confident and scores were significantly lower than what had been predicted for the tournament.
Lepp maintained his lead throughout the day, carding a 1-under-par 70 to win the Northern Intercollegiate with a 202 (65-67-70). The young sophomore's Fighting Illini took home team honors, defeating defending national champion Minnesota by one stroke. Illinois finished 9-under-par (280-283-280--843), while Minnesota followed with 844 (281-283-280).
Michigan State carded an Intercollegiate low round of 273 Sunday to finish third with 848. Xavier placed fourth at 849.
For Indiana though, Hoosier head coach Mike Mayer is pleased with his team's performance in the last two rounds. Each of the last two rounds broke the Indiana single-round record of 286 in the Northern - a record set back in 1990.
"I am extremely pleased with how this team fought back after that first round," said Mayer. "I think we played in a fashion today that not only represented the University well, but showed everyone else that we can compete at the highest level. We were as high as 14th at one point Saturday, and just kept fighting back today."
Overton picked up Sunday where he left off when play was suspended Saturday evening due to darkness. The Evansville, Ind., native finished his final four holes of the second round to card a 4-under-par 67, which is one stroke shy of his career-best single round.
Overton finished fourth individually with 207 (69-67-71) - a total that ties the second best 54-hole round in school history. Teammate Aldo Jordan fired a 207 en route to winning the 2000 Legends Intercollegiate, while Randy Leen carded the total at the 1998 Wolverine Invitational.
The sophomore also set the Indiana individual 36- (136) and 54-hole (207) scoring records in the Northern. Former Hoosier Shaun Micheel, who has been finding much success on the PGA Tour, fired a 138 and 208, respectively, back in 1990.
"Jeff Overton continues to impress, but the sky is the limit for him," Mayer said. "He would be the first to admit that he left some shots out on the course. Jeff played with some of the best players in the nation and he showed that his game is at that level."
Heath Peters, a native of Garrett, Ind., was key to Indiana's final-round success as the sophomore carded a 3-under-par 68 to finish +2 for the tournament at 215 (74-73-68). Peters' final round betters his previous career-best 70, which was shot last year at the Big Ten Championships.
"I think that 68 is huge for Heath. He really needed a low round to ignite that flame in him," said Mayer. "Heath is another guy who can card the low scores, but he just needs that confidence and some breaks to go his way."
Senior Ben Davidson recorded back-to-back rounds of 70 to close tied for 28th at 217. Alongside the Hoosier captain was freshman Brad Marek who was playing in his first collegiate event this weekend.
Marek, an Arlington Heights, Ill., native, carded rounds of 74-71-72 to prove that age is just simply a number. IU had an impressive freshman class last year with Overton, Peters and Rob Ockenfuss, but Marek and classmate Scott Seibert are quickly increasing their class' stock.
Seibert began his collegiate career Saturday holing-out from over 100 yards out for an eagle. The Chesterfield, Mo., native played steady throughout the weekend, recording rounds of 76-72-74 for a 56th-place tie at 222.
Rounding out the lineup for Indiana was senior Mike Miller with 227 (76-76-75, T-77th).
Indiana also had a host of individuals competing in the event. Selected Hoosiers competed for individual honors, but their scores could not count towards the IU team score.
Marek led Hoosier individuals with his 28th-place tie at 217, with junior Kirk Wood the next closest at 225 (76-73-76), tied for 72nd. Ockenfuss tied for 74th at 226 (77-75-74) and junior Ryan Cassidy had a 229, T-84th finish. Senior Aldo Jordan finished tied for 84th with a 229 (77-73-79).
The Hoosiers will compete next weekend, October 5-6, at the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich.
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