ST. LOUIS -- Illinois State has been picked to win the 2009 State Farm MVC Men’s Golf Championship, according to a pre-championship poll of league coaches. The Redbirds received 77 points and five first-place tallies and edged defending team champion Wichita State, which received the remaining four first-place votes and 76 total points.
|Team (First Place Votes)
|| Total Pts.|
| 1. Illinois State (5)
| 2. Wichita State (4)
| 3. Southern Illinois
| 4. Drake
| 5. Missouri State
| 6. UNI
| 7. Evansville
| 8. Creighton
| 9. Bradley
Illinois State is led by Player of the Year candidate Joe Emerich. He is one of four league players to win medalist honors at a tournament this year, and he ranks fourth-best in scoring average with a 73.97 figure. Emerich trails three Wichita State players in the stroke average rankings, including Dustin Garza (70.97), Connor McHenry (73.83) and Zachariah Potter (73.94). That Shocker trio hopes to lead Wichita State to its eighth championship since 1999. Notably, in the past 10 years, either Illinois State (3) or Wichita State (7) has won the conference title.
Southern Illinois is picked third in the pre-championship coaches poll, and the Salukis have three players in the Top 10 in the regular-season stroke average rankings. Todd Obergoenner leads SIU with a 74.39 stroke average. In his last tournament, Obergoenner shared medalist honors (losing in a playoff) at the 14-team ASU Red Wolf Classic. SIU, meanwhile, has the league’s only team wins this year, most recently winning the GEICO Intercollegiate in mid-March. SIU was runner-up to Wichita State at last year’s championship.
Drake is picked to finish fourth in the pre-season rankings, with 55 points, while Missouri State (40 points), UNI (37), and Evansville (31) closely follow. Creighton (20) and Bradley (9) round out the voting.
Southern Illinois University and Dalhousie Golf Club (par-72, 7,080 yards) will host this year’s championship in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The tournament is Monday-Tuesday, April 27-28. Teams will play 36 holes on Monday and the remaining 18 on Tuesday. Play begins Monday with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.
Last year, Wichita State had a dominant performance at the 2008 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship, played at the Davenport Country Club in Pleasant Valley, Iowa. The Shockers won the tournament by 24 strokes over second-place Southern Illinois, while Connor McHenry claimed individual medalist honors by finishing four strokes better than teammate Dustin Garza, who finished in second. All five Shockers earned all-conference honors as the Shockers enjoyed the largest margin of victory at the MVC championship since Tulsa won by 26 strokes in a rain-shortened 36-hole tournament in 1995.