4/4/18 Boilermaker Invitational, Jason Hong

Then-sophomore Jason Hong cleans his club during the 2018 Boilermaker Invitational.

Spring has officially arrived in West Lafayette, as the weather won’t be dropping below freezing, and the trees are finally starting to bud.

That also means that conditions will finally be good enough to once again hit the local golf courses. The Purdue men’s golf team will be returning to competitive play on their home course this weekend, as they will be competing in the Boilermaker Invitational.

The team is coming off of a two-week break and is looking to bounce back from two subpar team performances in March.

On March 24-26, the team finished 11th out of 15 teams in the Hootie at Bulls Bay tournament in South Carolina. That performance was followed up by a placing of 14th out of 15 teams at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational in Florida. Needless to say, the team is expecting to finish much better than that this weekend, especially considering they will be playing on their home course.

“This is our home event. We’ve been preparing really well for it,” head coach Rob Bradley said. “The guys are comfortable on this golf course. It’s an event that we’ve played well in in the past, so I totally expect that we’ll bounce back well this weekend. I feel like we’ve gotten things back on track with scores that we’ve been shooting at home.”

The Boilers will be teeing off on Saturday and Sunday at Purdue’s Kampen Course for the two-day invitational. As always in golf, weather will surely play a factor.

For Saturday, the weather forecast predicts highs in the area in the mid-50s with light winds, so the first day of action should be smooth sailing and players should be able to score well.

On Sunday, however, things aren’t looking great. Currently, there is a 100-percent chance of rain with thunderstorms rolling into the West Lafayette area, but weather patterns in the Midwest are hard to predict and subject to change. That being said, the team is keeping the possible storm in mind as they prepare for the weekend.

“I think we look forward to (the weather being inclement). Our win on the year came when the weather was way worse than it could be Sunday,” said senior Timmy Hildebrand. “It was 38, basically snowing and blowing snow. I think we’re used to the cold weather and a lot of other teams aren’t.”

Hildebrand is the team’s lowest average scorer this year, as he is averaging a score of 71.67, and has become the team’s star player and senior leader this season. He is specifically looking to bounce back personally after shooting a final round score of 80 in the team’s last event.

The Boilermakers’ travel schedule so far this season has featured more vacation hot spots than normal collegiate sports season destinations. Purdue has made two separate trips to Florida and has also traveled to South Carolina, Hawaii and Puerto Rico this season.

Not surprisingly, playing in those warm weather environments contrasts greatly with playing in Indiana, which the team fully understands.

“I think, more than anything, it’s a grass difference and not so much a weather difference,” Bradley said. “Down there you’re playing on Bermuda grass and up here you’re playing on bent grass.”

The Boilers hope that their performance in their home invitational sparks a strong finish to their regular season as they gear up for the Big Ten Golf Championship at the end of the month at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.

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