With the Big Ten Championship just over two weeks away, the Michigan State men’s golf team will look to fine-tune its play in West Lafayette, Ind. this weekend at the Boilermaker Invitational.
The Spartans are coming off a tie for ninth at the Hawkeye Invitational last weekend, and have not placed in the top three in a tournament since early March when they finished third in the Colleton River Collegiate.
Despite the up-and-down season, third-year head coach Casey Lubahn believes that this could be an opportunity for his team to hit its stride at just the right time.
“This is an important week for our guys as we get closer to the championship season. We have been struggling to get over the hump, but have been close,” Lubahn said. “I like where the guys are at emotionally and physically so I expect us to play well at Purdue. This is a good ball-striking team and the Kampen course rewards guys who can manage their golf ball.”
In addition to Michigan State and Purdue, the field will include Drake, Indiana, Iowa, Kent State, Louisville, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State, Toledo, UCLA, Wichita State and five-time defending Big Ten Champions Illinois.
The Spartans will hope to improve on their finish from last year when they finished 10th overall, nearly 20 strokes behind Iowa and Louisville who tied for the team title at a 14-over par 878.
Sophomore Mitch Rutledge will look to set the tone for the Spartans this weekend; he will be the only golfer to have played the course last year, shooting a six-over par 222 for the tournament (71-77-74) good for a tie for 21st.
The men’s team features just two seniors this season, and coach Lubahn want to keep things straightforward for his young team this weekend.
“The keys for us will be simple – manage our misses and get the ball up and down around the greens. If we can do that, we can have a great finish,” Lubahn said.
Play will begin on Saturday, April 19 on the Kampen Course (par 72, 7,465 yards) at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, and conclude on Sunday April 20.
Aaron Whitlock is the host of 19th Hole for Impact Sports.
Photo: Michigan State University Golf