Indiana men’s golf began postseason play with a ninth place finish out of the 14 teams competing in the Big Ten Championship this past weekend at The Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Indiana.
Indiana finished with a total team score of 903, 39-over par after 54 holes were played in total. The Hoosiers finished 18 strokes behind the winner, top-seed Illinois.
It was an unpredictable tournament, as Maryland, the 14 seed, finished in third place, just two strokes behind Illinois. The third seed, Ohio State, finished twelfth after a second place finish last weekend at the Kepler Intercollegiate.
“As far as our performance, maybe I can grade us to a C," Indiana head coach Mike Mayer said. “Maybe.”
Senior Mitch Davis continued his strong spring season by finishing in the top-15 with a score of 223, 7-over par. It’s the third time this spring he finished at the top of the Indiana leaderboard, with the other two times coming at the Boilermaker Invitational and the Nexus Collegiate. Davis also propelled the Hoosiers to a second straight Big Ten Match Play Championship with a 3-0 weekend to begin the spring slate.
Mayer said Davis did a nice job not letting the ferocious conditions beat him down and said he thinks Davis has a lot of potential going into next season.
“I think he’s right on the cusp of potentially doing some really really big things,” Mayer said.
After round one Friday, sophomore Clay Merchent led Indiana by breaking par and shooting a round of 1-under 71. Merchent made birdie putts at holes No. 7, 9, and 15 to finish the day inside the top-10. As a team, Indiana stood at seventh place after the first day, shooting an overall score of 293, 5-over par.
Although Friday was Indiana’s best round of the tournament, Mayer said there was much to be desired following the first day.
“We didn’t play well in round one, but at the same time we didn’t wound ourselves too bad,” Mayer said.
The Hoosiers followed the first round up with back-to-back rounds of 17-over 305 to close out the tournament. In the second round, Davis bounced back after a first round 77 with a second round of 69 for the best Indiana round of the entire tournament. He had a team-high six birdies to tie Merchent for the team lead after two rounds.
Davis’ score of 69 was also tied for the lowest round of the day for any Big Ten golfer, matching Iowa’s Ronan Kleu. Davis was just one of eight players to shoot 69 or lower in either of the first two days of the tournament.
“We knew day two was moving day, unfortunately we moved in the wrong direction,” Mayer said. “Mitch Davis came back as the wind really picked up and shot an outstanding 69, but we can’t survive an 82 by our number one man in Drew Salyers.”
Salyers paced Indiana in the final round with a 74, with circles on the scorecard at the second and sixteenth hole. He finished the tournament 15-over and tied for 48th.
Davis shot another 77 in the third round despite recording four birdies. Three of those birdies came during the first six holes as he began his round on the back nine, just like the rest of the team both Saturday and Sunday.
“The win was consistently brutal throughout the day. It started much earlier than the forecast and got much worse than the forecast,” Mayer said. He also noted Indiana had trouble earlier in the year with the wind at the Nexus Collegiate in the Bahamas.
The Hoosiers were the only team in the field who didn’t shoot worse Sunday compared to Saturday. Mayer attributed that to the team’s resilience, but he said it also showed how bad Saturday’s performance was.
Mayer said he also talked to other teams after the final round, and the general consensus was everyone was thrilled to be done playing golf.
Indiana was once again without junior Noah Gillard, who is out with an arm injury, and was also without junior Eric Berggren, who suffered a wrist injury. Berggren, who led Indiana at the Butler Spring Invitational, would have definitely been in consideration for a spot in the starting lineup with Gillard out.
Indiana came into the event ranked No. 60 in the latest GolfWeek rankings, and with this result, the team will end up squarely on the bubble for an at-large bid. Indiana will find out if they receive an at-large bid Wednesday at 4 p.m., when the 2022 NCAA D1 Men’s Golf Selection Show airs on the Golf Channel. More information can be found here.