EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State men’s golf started the Spring where it ended the Fall by capturing the 2016 Big Ten Match Play Championship title Saturday held at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Fla., playing on the Conservatory Course (par-72, 7,776-yards). The Spartans earned a pair of dominating 5-1 wins to capture the title, stopping Penn State in the third round and Northwestern in the championship.
The win against the Wildcats avenged a first-round loss, 3.5-2.5, which was MSU’s only loss of the two-day, four-round tournament.
“I think after the first round you look back at what we could have done. We did a lot of that after the first round loss to Northwestern, but after that point, we just had a different look in our eye. We had a different level of play,” MSU head coach Casey Lubahn said.
“I am just proud of our guys. They really pushed through and believed in themselves. We had a lot of standout performances this weekend from our guys. Charlie Hetzel and Josh Heinze were stellar, as was Mitch Rutledge, going undefeated. They are experienced guys that just know their game. One through eight, everyone on the team contributed. Every single guy was a part of this win.”
The Spartans started the day with a 5-1 win against Penn State. Junior Josh Heinze continued his impressive first season with Michigan State, setting the pace with a win over the Nittany Lions’ JD Dornes. Junior Sam Weatherhead righted the ship after going 0-2 on Friday with a win over Cole Miller (5&3), while sophomore Michael Sharp continued his winning ways against Geoff Vartelas (5&3). MSU clinched the victory with wins by junior Charlie Netzel (3&2) and senior Mitch Rutledge (3&2).
In another exciting match, MSU turned the tables on Northwestern, 5-1. Heinze finished match play 4-0 with a win over Andrew Whalen (3&2). Weatherhead helped create distance between the Spartans and the Wildcats with a win over Harley Abrams (5&4). Sharp birdied 18 to stop Ryan Lumsden (2up). Rutledge made the win official by defeating Luke Miller (2&1).
“There was a level of comfort out there today. There was a lot of distraction being the co-host. The guys decided they were going to play as well as they could play. They didn’t press or panic just pushed through. What I have been seeing on the playing field is what I have seen in practice all the time. This level of success with three wins already this season hasn’t been seen since 2007. It is very, very exciting. We can’t wait to get back out there in a few weeks and see if we can continue it,” Lubahn said.
Northwestern finished second, followed by third-place Purdue, Indiana in fourth place, fifth-place Penn State, Minnesota in sixth place, seventh-place Michigan, Iowa in eighth place, ninth-place Nebraska and Rutgers rounding out the event in 10th place. BTN will broadcast the 2016 Big Ten Match Play Championship on Sunday, Feb. 27 at Noon ET.
MSU is back in action on Saturday, Feb. 27 in Houston, Texas at the Challenge at Champions Dual.