In each of the past two seasons, the Ohio State women’s golf team has celebrated a Big Ten championship — but with a catch. While OSU’s name has appeared on the trophy, it has done so as a co-champion.
Now with a chance to stand alone as champion for the first time in the three-year span, the Buckeyes are gearing up for the Big Ten tournament this weekend.
After securing a second-place finish at the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational last weekend, the team will attempt to carry that momentum into the conference championship.
“We are peaking at the right time,” said junior Jessica Porvasnik. “We just finished second at our home tournament, and we’re looking forward to the Big Tens this week.”
Coach Therese Hession said she has been happy with her team’s solid season thus far but is hoping that the team can produce a couple of standout performances during the postseason.
“We’ve had a pretty steady season. We’ve only really had one bad tournament in my opinion, so we’ve been very consistent,” Hession said. “If we can get one or two people to break out of the pack a little bit and post some under-par scores, I think that’s something we’re really going to need heading into this weekend.”
One of the team’s goals is to win the Big Ten title outright. Despite being the two-time defending Big Ten champions, both team titles have been shared with other schools: Michigan in 2014 and Northwestern in 2015. Northwestern is currently ranked No. 15 in the country and has been the clear front-runner in the conference during the regular season.
Despite the Wildcats being the favorite to win the conference title, Hession said they’re vulnerable.
“Last week (Northwestern) shot 30 over par in a tournament, though, and lost by 42 strokes, so that’s the thing about women’s golf this year, there’s so many good teams,” Hession said. “You never know what’s going to happen week to week. So, you know, hopefully this will be our week.”
The Buckeyes think a key to the weekend will be following their plan and knowing when to push for certain shots.
“Be aggressive when you can be aggressive,” Porvasnik said. “Strategically, I think everyone needs to figure out when is the time to go for it and when not, and I think making the right choices is really going to benefit us in the long run.”
Porvasnik, who finished fifth at last weekend’s home tournament, won the Big Ten tournament individual title as a freshman and is hoping to recreate her success from two years ago.
“I definitely want to win the Big Ten again, but I’m just focusing on small goals and going into it just sticking to our game plan and playing smart golf,” she said.
Four of the six Buckeyes competing have played on the course before, so they are familiar with its challenging elements. Hession said she thinks driving and putting execution will be critical components in the formula to win a Big Ten championship.
“I would say hitting greens in regulation and staying out of the rough will be one factor,” Hession said. “You know it always comes down to if it’s your week, making some putts, and I feel like we’ve worked a lot on putting and trying to get the ball in the hole. Hopefully those two things come together, and it should work out pretty well then.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to begin play in the Big Ten tournament on Friday at The Fort Golf Course in Indianapolis.