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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Big Ten golf tightens up

The Hoosiers finished the Northern Invitational Sept. 23 with an 898 three-day score for a sub-300 average round. But the results netted them only a tie for fourth place in a field that was without three of the potential top teams in the Big Ten. \nLast year at the same tournament, an 898 would have been only two strokes out of first place. While the team agrees that there is room for improvement, the strengthened play of the Big Ten figures to make tournaments this year even more competitive.\n"We were very excited about breaking 300, but, evidently, that's just not good enough," sophomore Danah Ford said. "In the past, just a couple of years ago, that's what (a top score) was. You broke 300 and you were pretty much in there. We just have to shoot lower, we know that, and we just have to have some under-par rounds. But I think the Big Ten is a very strong conference." \nAt the Northern Invitational, Michigan took first -- with an 873 cumulative score -- by a 14 stroke margin over second place Northwestern. Four Michigan players finished in the top 10 in individual standings, with a fifth tied for 11th place. Meantime, Northwestern featured two players in the top 10 individual standings. \n"Michigan came out really strong, they really surprised me," sophomore Karen Dennison said. \n"Northwestern played well. Penn State came up and had a good last round. It's a very tough division." \nHead coach Sam Carmichael echoed those sentiments but stressed that the toughness of the conference isn't an excuse for the Hoosiers not to take first. \n"I don't think there's any doubt that all the teams are better than they were in the past," Carmichael said. "There's about five or six teams that are really strong. Michigan has a great team with four excellent seniors. Northwestern has everyone back from last year except one, and they picked up a couple freshmen that are just outstanding. But we've just got to get better with our putting and continue to improve our short game."\nCarmichael also said Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State, who all competed in an NCAA fall preview on Sept. 24-25 instead of the Northern Invitational, figure to be top contenders in the conference. \n"They've got an outstanding recruiting class, plus the players that they had, so they're going to be really good too," he said. \nAt the NCAA fall preview, a 24-team field that pitted some of the nation's top teams against one another, Ohio State and Michigan State finished fourth and fifth with scores of 594 and 601 in the rain-shortened, two-round event. Purdue finished tied for 16th place with a 613 score. Their success amid a pack of the nation's top teams further adds to the competition level necessary to win in any Big Ten tournament. \nThe strengthened play of the Big Ten may be because increased dedication from schools in the conference to their golf programs. Northwestern built a $1.1 million state-of-the art indoor practice facility in 1998 while Michigan State added a $1.2 million dollar MSU Golf Center in 1997. On their Web sites both schools cite improved performance and recruiting as reasons behind building the centers, goals that are perhaps beginning to pay dividends. IU opened a golf practice facility this season for the men's and women's teams.\n"It's a lot tougher than it used to be," sophomore Mary Lidester said. "There's a lot of good players and a lot of low numbers now. You really have to have four solid scores in there, every day. You really need to shoot right around par or under."\nThe Hoosiers will get their next taste of the Big Ten at the Legends Shootout Monday and Tuesday in Franklin, Ind.

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