The Hoosiers did not post a strong enough regular season to qualify for regionals and will have to win their conference championship to earn a postseason berth.
“As it stands right now, we’re not going to make regionals unless we go out and win this tournament,” freshman Will Seger said. “So that’s our expectation, that’s our goal.”
The four-round tournament will feature each of the Big Ten teams competing at the Pete Dye Course May 2-4.
Senior David Mills will spearhead the attack as the only Hoosier with Big Ten Championship experience.
The other four golfers in the lineup are sophomore Max Kollin, Seger, junior Nicholas Grubnich and senior Hugo Menendez.
Mills has historically played well at both the French Lick Resort course and in the Big Ten Championship. He finished individually in the top 10 the last two years, fourth in 2012 and tied for eighth in 2013.
“This golf course fits him,” IU Coach Mike Mayer said. “He needs to focus every shot of the tournament, which is easy to say, but hard to do. If he can keep that gas pedal pushed down, I think he can win this championship.”
Kollin and Seger have been two of the more consistent golfers on the team all year.
The biggest surprise in the lineup is Menendez, who has only played in the Hoosier starting five once, at Northern Intercollegiate, but has improved steadily during the course of the year.
Mayer said he believes Menendez’s experience will pay dividends for the Hoosiers at the Big Ten Championships.
“Hugo is a senior and has a lot of experience,” Mayer said. “He’s been on the cusp this year and did really well in the first couple rounds of a couple different tournaments. He might give us a round we don’t like, but he also has the ability to give us that spark we may need.”
Mayer and Seger said the two biggest obstacles the team has faced all year have been the lack of a low score to carry the team and a strong fourth score to keep the numbers consistent.
“Two things we’ve been missing this year is we’ve been missing a fourth scorer, and we haven’t really had a real low round that we’ve been able to count on,” Seger said. “But, I think everybody will be ready for this tournament and we’ll be able to count on all five guys instead of just two or three.”
The Hoosiers have historically been successful the past two years at the course, finishing second in 2012 and tied for fourth in 2013. But the Hoosiers enter this tournament as heavy underdogs in a strong Big Ten conference.
“To beat all these good teams at the same time may take a herculean effort, but we’ll see if we have that effort in us,” Mayer said. “We’re in a situation where we don’t have much to lose right now so hopefully we can free-wheel a little and have some fun.”
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