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B1G Competition: Championship season arrives for Wisconsin


April 30, 2014

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MADISON, Wis. – The Badgers officially tee off championship season May 2-4 as they travel to French Lick, Ind., for the 2014 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championships.

UW will look to improve upon last year’s 12th-place finish (80-over par 304-308-304-316--1232) when the first 36 holes of the 72-hole tournament begin Friday at 7 a.m. CT. The 12-team field – which features some of the nation’s top-ranked programs on the national Golfweek/Sagarin rankings – will compete on the 7,152-yard, par-72 Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort.

2014 Field: No. 8 Illinois, Indiana, No. 36 Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, No. 44 Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, No. 49 Purdue, Wisconsin

“Obviously it is an exciting time of year and going to French Lick is a great opportunity to test ourselves against the entire league,” UW head coach Michael Burcin said. “Mental fortitude and patience is so important at the Pete Dye Course as it always is when you face a difficult test.”

Play continues with round three at 8 a.m. CT on Saturday, and the competition concludes with the final 18 holes on Sunday starting at 7 a.m. CT.

Competing for Wisconsin will be redshirt seniors Zachary Balit, Robert Jacobsen and Jack Watson, and senior John Gullberg, junior Thomas O’Bryan and freshman Ben Skogen.

“We expect our three horsemen in Jacobsen, Watson, and Balit to continue to lead and be patient while they chase another great performance,” Burcin said. “O’Bryan and Skogen will fill the four and five spot while we continue to search for consistent contributors in the back of the lineup.”

“This is a great opportunity for Ben and Thomas to show consistency and help those top three guys.” Burcin continued. “While we expect the top three to show continued improvement as well, it is no secret that Rob, Jack, and Zach have put us in position every week to compete favorably within a difficult schedule.”

The Badgers have been led by consistent play from veterans Balit, Jacobsen and Watson. The trio recorded 27 rounds at 74 or lower during the regular season.

Jacobsen leads Wisconsin individually with his 18-hole career-best average of 74.26 strokes per 18 holes (1708 strokes/23 rounds). Watson is averaging a career-best 74.55 (1491/20), while Balit has a career-low average of 75.17 (1729/23).

As a team, UW tallied five top-10 finishes and is averaging 299.26 strokes per 18 holes (6883/23).

“We took a big step this year in really competing at a high level in almost every event in the top of the lineup,” Burcin said. “What will allow us to take the next crucial step in being an NCAA contender will to be consistent throughout the entire lineup for 54 holes and not just one round. 

“This will come with continued depth and guys like Skogen and O’Bryan taking advantage of another opportunity.”

Live scoring from the Big Ten championships can be found on Golfstat.com, and results will be posted daily on UWBadgers.com.

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