The Ohio State men’s golf team is set to compete for the program’s 24th Big Ten title in the 2015 Big Ten Golf Championships this weekend in Newburgh, Ind., at the Victoria National Golf Club.
The five-man squad consists of sophomore Clark Engle, redshirt-junior Grant Weaver, redshirt-senior Logan Jones, junior Tee-k Kelly and senior Boo Timko.
While the Buckeyes started the spring season with three straight match play losses, Kelly said OSU is starting to turn its season around.
“Our spring season always starts out a little slow, but ever since the middle of March we’ve been playing really well. We finished top five in our last five events of the spring,” Kelly said. “We’ve been playing some good golf and we feel like we’re getting better every time we step on the course.”
Kelly has consistently excelled throughout the season, averaging 73.42 strokes per round. A native of Wheaton, Ill., Kelly has been a key contributor to the Buckeyes since his freshman year.
In his freshman campaign, Kelly participated in all 12 tournaments and notched a 75.31 average, with three top-20 finishes.
In 2014, the then-sophomore was one of only two Buckeyes who played in all 36 rounds, averaging 73.92 strokes. Kelly also contributed 32 points to the team tally and finished in the top three among Buckeyes in nine of 12 events.
The now-junior has been competing in golf competitively since he was 9 years old and has collegiate golf in his blood.
“Golf is deep in my family tradition,” Kelly said. “I’ve been around the sport of golf my whole life. My mom was a collegiate golfer for the University of Tulsa and my little brother will be playing for Florida Gulf Coast University as a freshman next fall.”
Kelly’s mom, Blue, was a member of the Tulsa golf team from 1986-90 and was a part of the 1988 NCAA Championship squad.
The Buckeyes are ranked at No. 54 in the Golf Stat rankings and as Kelly enters the 2015 Big Ten Championship, he was quick to emphasize that the team is motivated to come out on top.
“Things are heating up now because our game is starting to get good,” Kelly said. “We don’t think we are the underdogs, but everyone else thinks we are. We know how good we are, we are just going to go down there, do what we do and hopefully pull out a big win.”
The Big Ten Championship is set to be played in four rounds with the first two played on Friday as 36 continuous holes. With at least a 10-hour day on Friday and a long weekend ahead of him, Kelly said patience and confidence are going to be key aspects for him.
“Patience is a big thing because you never know what’s going to happen next,” Kelly said. “You have to have a swagger, an inner belief in yourself. You have to know how good you are, that you’ve practiced and prepared enough to play well.”
Kelly went on to explain that in golf, the game is much as much mental as it is physical.
“You have to learn how take yourself away from it for a little bit and focus in certain spurts,” Kelly said. “You have to learn how to escape from the moment a little bit and kind of relax because you can’t be so mentally focused for 10-straight hours, you’ll get burnt out.”
The tournament is set to start Friday with the first tee times scheduled for 7 a.m. Round three tee times are set for Saturday at 9 a.m., and round four is set for Sunday at 8 a.m.