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Home course unkind to Ohio State in Kepler Invitational

The Ohio State Men’s Golf team fell short of their expectations in defending their home course over the weekend, finishing seventh out of 11 teams at the Robert Kepler Invitational.

The Buckeyes totaled a score of 894, 42-over par for the tournament, which trailed champion Eastern Michigan by 33 strokes.

“We didn’t do too well this weekend, to be honest. We kind of struggled. We didn’t really take advantage of our home course,” said Bo Hoag, a junior from Upper Arlington, Ohio. “I don’t know if we were kind of pressing, because sometimes when you’re playing at your home course you feel a little more pressure to play well, and I think that may have gotten to us a little bit.”

Brad Smith, a senior from Cambridge, Ohio, led the Buckeyes with a 1-over par 214 for the weekend, finishing sixth among all golfers at the tournament.

“I played well this weekend, obviously anytime anyone tries to play in a golf tournament, they want to go out and win,” Wright said. “I might not show it, but I’m really competitive. I wanted to defend this week, but I think that any time you finish inside the top 10 you’ve got to be happy with that.”

Hoag started off well with a 1-under par 70 on the first day, but struggled as the tournament went on, finishing Sunday with a 6-over par 77, and a 9-over par 222 for the weekend.

“I didn’t really play that well today. I got off to a tough start, and I had to press just to get back to even par all day, which is not a spot you want to be in,” Hoag said. “The positive from this is that I was tied for the lead or a shot back, and I learned how to deal with all that and get back into the flow of things.”

Coach Donnie Darr was not pleased with the tournament’s results.

“It’s a disappointing weekend, because we were playing really well coming into the event. I still feel that if we go out tomorrow, we are going to play well,” Darr said. “The big thing is our guys have struggled a little bit when they go between the ropes in a competition, and we haven’t figured out just how to relax and let good golf come to us.”

Darr went on to say that the weather couldn’t have been better, and that the wind was negligible and the course played just about how he expected it to.

Darr didn’t think that there was any pressure to defend their home course, and that it should’ve been an advantage rather than a weight on their shoulders.

“I think the big thing was, that the pressure was all self-induced. It’s been that way all year where guys have gotten a lot better individually, but we haven’t gotten the team result out of it,” Darr said. “We have a lot more talent, more natural golf talent than what we’ve shown, and I think we’re just lacking a little confidence.”

The Buckeyes have one last tournament at Purdue in two weeks before the Big Ten championships start up on April 30.

“The way things are looking right now, both are looking like must-wins for us,” Wright said. “Especially the Big Tens if we want to see any postseason play.”

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