Last June, Jim Brown announced this year would be his last as Ohio State men's golf coach. So he's had a lot of time to think about what would be a perfect send-off.
Brown, a Martins Ferry, Ohio, native, has one of the most accomplished coaching resumes in college golf history. And his final event will be just how he imagined it - guiding the Buckeyes in the NCAA championships this week at Inverness Club.
"It's really exciting to be here," Brown, 65, said Monday. "That was one of our goals, for my last tournament to be in Ohio. The guys got it done in the regionals.
"I couldn't think of a better way to end my coaching career than in the state of Ohio."
The nation's top 30 teams begin the first of five days of competition this morning at Inverness.
Ohio State tees off along with Virginia and Northwestern at 7:47 a.m. on the first tee.
The 23rd-seeded Buckeyes will compete in the NCAA championships for the first time in 11 years after tying for third in their regional. Brown, who played at OSU and graduated in 1966, has taken the Buckeyes to 32 NCAA regionals in 36 years as coach.
He is the winningest active coach in the country and has won a Big Ten-record 17 conference championships. The pinnacle of Brown's career came in 1979, when the Buckeyes captured the national championship.
"Right now we're saying, we won it in 1979, so maybe nine's our good year now that it's '09," Brown said. "Maybe we're due."
The Buckeyes came into the Bowling Green, Ky., regional two weeks ago as the No. 9 seed and were in ninth place after the first day of competition. OSU used the second round to forge into contention, even though half of the round was pushed back until the final day because of bad weather. In the third round, Brad Wright had a team-low 70 to keep the Buckeyes in the top five.
Sophomore Bo Hoag led OSU with a tie-for-seventh finish, his sixth top-10 placement in his last seven tournaments.
Hoag said this week, OSU is focused on the competition and not as much on its longtime coach.
"We don't really talk about it a whole lot with him," Hoag said. "It's cool to have him back here. He really wanted to get to Toledo."
Brown knows Inverness will be challenging and hopes his team's experience of playing on difficult courses in the Columbus area such as Scioto, Muirfield Village and their home Scarlet Course will be adequate preparation. The players feel confident knowing their coach has played Inverness numerous times.
"He's been around, he's seen everything," senior Vaughn Snyder said. "There's nothing we come across that we're not prepared for and that he hasn't seen. It makes our lives a lot easier."
Brown has rarely allowed himself to think past this week. He wants to enjoy the moment as much as possible.
"They've had a couple retirement parties for me, and our banquet," Brown said. "I kind of get choked up at those things when it finally hits me. Out here I don't think about it. I'm just trying to work hard and give the kids all the information I know about the course.
"Come Sunday, when it's all over, it will be sad. But the time's right, I'm not second-guessing myself. It's time for someone else to have the opportunity I did."
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