Since then-senior Brant Peaper graduated in 2013, IU men’s golf has not had a single golfer named to the All-Big Ten team.
While struggling to find an individual player with the ability to carry the team, it is no surprise the Hoosiers have found themselves towards the bottom of most tournaments.
Despite a 14th place finish at their most recent tournament— the Fighting Illini Invitational in mid-September— it was sophomore Brock Ochsenreiter who stepped up and showed signs of potential to be that go-to guy.
Ochsenreiter’s 30th place finish may not look flashy on paper, but considering the strength of the playing field, IU Coach Mike Mayer believes it was Ochsenreiter’s best collegiate finish.
“He’ll say he had a mediocre tournament,” Mayer said. “The reason he says that is that he didn’t make a lot of birdies, but what he did that impressed me was that he didn’t have any big numbers. Against the field we’re playing against, if you make those big numbers, you can’t be that go-to guy.”
With the Windon Memorial in Evanston, Illinois, starting this weekend, the team will send Oschenreiter along with juniors Jake Brown and Jack Sparrow, freshmen Ethan Shepherd and Evan Yakubov and senior Brendon Doyle.
“It’s been a good two weeks of preparation,” Mayer said. “I think our attitude's as good as I’ve seen it. There’s some really good energy on this team right now.”
Yakubov’s role in the individual slot means that his score will not affect the team score. Despite being a freshman, Yakubov quickly caught the attention of Mayer, who credits Yakubov’s quick acclimation to the collegiate game to his work ethic.
“He’s arguably the hardest worker on this team, and he wants it as much as anybody,” Mayer said. “They all want it, but he spends a lot of time working on his game. He eats, sleeps and drinks the game of golf. When you get somebody like that, you’ve got to run with him.”
With the country club course coming up, the Hoosiers spent much of their time this past weekend practicing on similar courses in Indianapolis.
“We worked a lot on that type of golf course and not just trying to hit everywhere, but instead placing your ball off the tee,” Brown said. “I think we have prepared pretty well, and we really look forward to playing well up there.”
With a field of 15 schools competing— four of which are Big Ten rivals— the Hoosiers know they must improve on not letting their struggles on one hole affect the next ones.
“That’s something I am working on right now for sure,” Brown said. “It’s a mental grind out there, so the better I can do that, the better my rounds will be. It’s just being able to forget the bad mistakes and move on from them.”