After winning the inaugural Big Ten Match Play Championship in 2009 and not appearing in the final since 2011, IU men’s golf ended both streaks with a win over Iowa on Saturday to open the season.
IU opened up competition on Friday against Ohio State, coming away with a 4.5-0.5 victory. The Buckeyes had no wins against the Hoosiers, with the match between IU senior Ethan Shepherd and Ohio State freshman Adam Wallin being halved.
The team saw similar results against Minnesota later Friday, ending the match with another 4.5-0.5 victory.
IU felt as though it had a deep team heading into the competition, head coach Mike Mayer said, and he thinks they proved it.
“We got contributions from everybody in the lineup, which is what it takes to win in this league,” Mayer said after the event.
After two dominant performances against the Buckeyes and Golden Gophers, the team spoke about staying aggressive in the matches to come, Mayer said.
The Hoosiers defeated the Wisconsin Badgers by 3.5-1.5 in the semifinals Saturday, advancing to the Championship Match against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Championship Match was a close affair, with individual golfers trading leads and ties throughout the afternoon. The Hoosiers were able to come back for a 3-2 victory after the Hawkeyes led by as much as 3.5-1.5.
The match was ultimately decided by the matchup between IU junior Mitch Davis and Iowa senior Alex Schaake, the No. 1 golfers for their teams.
“I kinda thought his match might be very pivotal,” Mayer said. “Little did I know it was going to be the match that determined the outcome.”
Davis won hole 17 to tie the match, leading to a pivotal 18th hole. Both Davis and Schaake hit a chip shot late as they neared the green.
Davis’ shot pulled him closer to the green than Schaake. All Davis had to do to win was make this one putt.
His mind cleared as the metal of his putter made contact with the ball, Davis said, which promptly cruised into the hole to end both the match and a 12-year championship drought.
“I couldn’t really think about anything except for making it,” Davis said.
Davis’ win, which came after consecutive ties against Minnesota and Wisconsin, added to those of Shepherd and junior Harry Reynolds to lift the Hoosiers above the Hawkeyes.
IU will return to play Feb. 14 in the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate at the Crossings Course of RTJ Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama.