Feb. 8, 2011
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THIS WEEK — The University of Iowa men’s golf team, ranked 11th in Golfstat’s most recent rankings, will travel to Palm Beach Gardens, FL for the third annual Big Ten Match Play Championships Feb. 11-12. Competition will be held at the Champion Course at PGA National Resort and Spa. The two-day event will include four rounds before a champion is crowned.
THE COURSE — The Champion Course is home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic and was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990. The 7,048-yard par 72 features “The Bear Trap,” a three-hole stretch crafted by Nicklaus himself. Considered one of Florida’s most notable golf challenges, USA Today calls The Bear Trap “one of the toughest stretches in golf.”
THE COMPETITION — Rated as the 12th-strongest field of any college golf tournament this spring by Golf World, the Big Ten Match Play will feature seven of the top 100 individual competitors in the NCAA, including Iowa senior and eighth-ranked Vince India. This marks the season-opening event for all 11 conference teams.
MATCH PLAY BRACKET — With seeds based on end-of-fall Golfstat rankings, the Hawkeyes are seeded second and will face the winner of the play-in match between Indiana and Wisconsin. Each team will compete head-to-head with six competitors apiece. Each individual match-up will be worth a point, with three and one-half points needed to win the team match.
BIG TEN NETWORK — The Big Ten Conference was the first to have a college match play event, making it a marquee event throughout the nation. Competition will be televised by the Big Ten Network. It is the nation’s only televised collegiate golf tournament.
HEAD COACH Mark Hankins — Hankins is in his fourth year as Iowa’s head men’s golf coach after spending seven years as the head coach at Michigan State University. Under Hankins, the Hawkeyes finished the 2010 season with the highest national ranking in school history. Ranked 36th among all NCAA Division I teams, Iowa earned its best Big Ten finish (second) since 1992 and produced an NCAA Regional berth for the second-consecutive year. Additionally, the Hawkeyes picked up four tournament titles in five events last fall. Hankins is a native of Mt. Pleasant, IA, and a graduate of Iowa State.