April 27, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's golf team captured its second consecutive Big Ten Championship on Sunday, April 27 at Forest Akers West Golf Course in East Lansing, Mich. The Spartans shot a final round 301 to hold off a hard-charging Minnesota squad. For the tournament, the Spartans shot a four-round total of 21-over par 1,173 (291-295-286-301), bettering the Golden Gophers (293-301-290-293) by four strokes. It is MSU's third conference title in the last four years, and fourth overall.
The Spartans entered Sunday with an 11-stroke lead, but saw it shrink to two with only a few holes to play. However, a birdie and a par on the final two holes by senior Ryan Brehm clinched the title.
"Patience was the key to this weekend," said head coach Sam Puryear, who wins the title in his first year at the helm of the Spartans. "Patience by the players and by the coaches. We really made some good decisions the last two days as a team to pull this out."
Brehm was the top Spartan finisher, taking second place with an eight-under par 278 (72-69-69-70). He began the day with a par and a birdie, but would bogey three of the next four holes. However, from there he settled down and finished his round error-free, including a back-nine four-under par 32.
"This year's championship transitioned into a different generation of Spartans," said Brehm. "It's really cool to see the younger guys rise to the occasion and play the way they did, I'm proud of them."
Brehm, the lone MSU senior in the competitive lineup, has three team titles and three runner-up individual finishes in his four Big Ten Championships. For the tournament, Brehm played the par fives at eight-under, and posted three birdies on the fourth, 13th and 17th holes over his four rounds. In all, he fired 20 birdies this weekend, second to Indiana's Jorge Campillo (21) for the most in the tournament.
Sophomore Jack Newman held on for a tie of fifth place at five-over par 293 (70-74-70-79). The par-four, fourth and fifth holes, were kind to Newman as he played the pair at eight-over for the tournament, posting six birdies and an eagle.
In his Big Ten Championship debut, freshman Payne Gniewek tied for 22nd with a four-round total of 14-over par 302 (74-75-74-79). Gniewek had seven birdies and 45 pars, second most over the four rounds, for the tournament and played the par-fives at one-under par.
Also, making his championship debut, fellow freshman Graham Baillargeon was in a group, including junior Randy Hutchison, in a tie for 41st at 21-over 309. Baillargeon carded his best round of the tournament today with a two-over 74, which included an eagle on the par-five eighth and four birdies. For the championship, he was second on the team with 11 birdies and led with two eagles. Meanwhile, Hutchison finished today with a six-over 78.
After Michigan State and Minnesota (25-over par 1,177), Illinois placed third (30-over par 1,182), Indiana was fourth (31-over 1,183), Michigan was fifth (42-over 1,194), Northwestern and Ohio State were tied for sixth (44-over 1,196), Wisconsin was eighth (47-over 1,199), Purdue was ninth (57-over 1,209), Iowa was 10th (60-over 1,212) and Penn State was 11th (79-over 1,231).
Both Brehm and Newman earned All-Championship honors with their top-five finishes. Joining the Spartan pair on the team was Campillo, Illinois' Scott Langley and Michigan's Bill Rankin.
Campillo, the 2008 Les Bolstad award winner, was the individual medalist with a 10-under par 278 (69-71-71-67).
The Spartans earned an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Regional Championship, held May 15-17 at a to be determined location.