COLUMBUS, Ohio - The 26th-ranked Michigan State men's golf team finished in a tie with 29th-ranked Minnesota (307-293-298-294--1192) at the 88th Big Ten Championships on Sunday afternoon, claiming its third Big Ten Championship in the program's 56th year. The Spartans turned in a fourth round of 303, to complete the par-71, 7,444-yard Scarlet Course with a 56-over-par 1192 (298-295-296-303). With the win, Michigan State received the Big Ten automatic bid into the NCAA Regional Championships based on the final Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Senior Matt Harmon led the team with a third-place finish after posting a round of 72 on Sunday.
"I'm really excited for these five guys," MSU head coach Mark Hankins said. "They fought hard today. I think it is amazing that we won two championships in three years. We put in a lot of hard work and it paid off today."
After finishing 36 holes on Friday in second place carding a 25-over-par 593 (298-295--593), then falling behind Purdue by two strokes, the 26th-ranked MSU team propelled into first place after turning in the lowest round of the third day, a 296. After 54 holes, the Spartans sat on top of the 11-team field and led second-place Purdue by six shots.
Minnesota came roaring back on Sunday, after trailing the Spartans by nine shots after three rounds. The Gophers were down by one shot on the par-4, 439-yard No. 18, and a birdie by Minnesota's Bronson LaCassie on that hole tied Minnesota with the Spartans for the first tie for the top spot in the history of the men's golf Big Ten Championships. The Gophers finished the fourth round with a 294, the lowest round of the day.
The Big Ten Championship win is MSU's third conference title, and the second under Hankins. Michigan State took home the championship in 1969 under then-head coach Bruce Fossum and won again in 2005. The win is also the third tournament title this season, and the second consecutive for the squad. The Green and White also won the Boilermaker Invitational and last week's Fossum/Spartan Invitational. This is the third time in MSU golf history that a team has won three titles in a season, and first since 1979.
"It feels great," Hankins said. "Obviously it was a goal of ours this year was to win a Big Ten Championship. All the credit goes to my players. They did what I asked them to do and I definitely trust them to make good decisions. We played some good golf this weekend and at in the end, you can only compare your team to the other teams, and this time we came out on top."
Pariya Junhasavasdikul (69-72-73-71--285) of Purdue finished with the individual medal after leading the tournament wire-to-wire and Minnesota's Bronson LaCassie (78-72-71-7--293) claimed second, eight stokes behind the leading Boilermaker.
Senior Matt Harmon recovered from yesterday's 78 with his second lowest round of the tournament, a 1-over-par 72. The 15th-ranked golfer combined three birdies on the front nine for 1-under, but a double bogey on the par-4, 442-yard No. 10 put him one over. The senior was able to recover with a birdie on No. 16, to bring him to even par. A bogey on the par-3, 221-yard No. 17, left him at 1-over-par 72 at the end of the round. He completed the tourney with a 10-over-par 294 (73-71-78-72), trailing the leader by nine stokes, for his second third-place finish of his career at the Big Ten Championship.
"Matt showed a lot of courage today," Hankins said. "He probably had one of his worst rounds all spring yesterday, but he came back and played really well today."
Junior Ryan Brehm shot a 78 in the final round on Sunday, bringing his tournament total to 11-over-par 295 (72-73-72-78). The junior double bogeyed on the par-4, 378-yard No. 16, but recovered with two par shots on Nos. 17 and 18 to finish in fourth place. The fourth-place finish was his third top-5 finish at the Big Ten Championships - in 2005 and 2006, he posted 2nd-place finishes.
Jack Newman posted a 75 in the fourth round, which included birdies on the par-3, 202-yard No. 8 and the par-5, 562-yard No. 12 hole. Newman tied for 12th-place in his first appearance at the Big Ten Championships and his second top-20 finish of his career.
Sophomore Grant Tungate tied his first round score of 78 for a 27-over-par 311 total (78-74-81-78). Tungate finished in 38th place after posting seven birdies and 34 pars in the four-round tournament.
Steve Cuzzort carded an 80 in the third round after turning in 76-83-74 for a 28-over 313 total. The sophomore finished in 42nd place.
The Spartans take next weekend off before returning to action on May 12-13 at The Maxwell in Ardmore, Okla., and then head to NCAA Regionals on May 17-19 in Sugar Grove, Ill.