Two weeks ago at the Boilermaker Invitational, the Iowa men’s golf team went into the final round of play fourth out of 15 teams.
Then the Hawkeyes shot the second-best round in school history on the final day, shooting 14-under par to win the tournament.
That’s how things have gone this spring.
Iowa finished fourth at the Big Ten Match Play Championships, won the Big Four Championship, and finished runners-up at the Arizona State University Thunderbird Invitational before winning the Hawkeye-GRE and Boilermaker Invitational. As coach Mark Hankins’ squad heads to the Pete Dye Course in French Lick, Ind., for the Big Ten Championships this weekend, the team is on one of its best runs in recent history.
“We were fortunate to not be in the lead group. The lead group tends to focus on each other, and we just went about our business,” Hankins said of the Boilermaker Invitational victory. “We talk about it all the time: Take care of your individual goals, and the team goals kind of come along with it. As we started playing well, the other teams were not really doing much. We had a couple guys who scored really well, and that’s all it takes.”
The Hawkeyes enter this weekend’s action ranked 35th nationally by Golfstat and second in the Big Ten. Illinois is No. 11.
Steven Ihm, Brian Bullington, Ian Vandersee, Raymond Knoll and Carson Schaake will step to the tee for the third straight week as Iowa’s starting lineup. Ihm won the individual title at the Hawkeye-GRE and Boilermaker and will likely enter the professional ranks this summer. Bullington and Vandersee are seasoned juniors within the program, while Knoll and Schaake round out the group of five as freshmen.
Iowa has accumulated a lot of success under the direction of Hankins, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament each of the last five years and advancing to the NCAA Finals three out of those five seasons. The program is now housed adjacent to Finkbine Golf Course at the Hoak Family Golf Center, a $2 million facility that includes an indoor putting green.
“Some of it is the scheduling,” Hankins said. “We try to schedule so we can be as successful as possible. This team has continued to grow in confidence. We train really heavily on our spring break time in Arizona, and it is really concentrated practice. It’s nine days there, and we’re going all day. You don’t ever get that in college.”
Every golfer competing in the Black and Gold this weekend has proven their medal thus far, with Ihm leading the pack.
Now, the Hawkeyes hope to continue their storied spring.
“Everybody takes the confidence from the last two weeks and will hopefully apply it this week along with being very strategic and being patient on the golf course,” Ihm said. “French Lick is a course where you have to be super patient. You really can’t force too many things, so I think if we stick to our game plan and limit our mistakes, we’ll come out on top on Sunday.”
Category: Iowa men's golf