Sept. 18, 2012
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By BRADY JOHNSON
BURLINGTON, Iowa — Playing in a three-some featuring elite players of the 2012 Golfweek Conference Challenge, University of Iowa junior Steven Ihm fed off the competitive atmosphere to lead the Hawkeyes for the second straight day.
When the dust was settled, Ihm carded another under-par round and left himself within striking distance of the individual title, which will be settled Tuesday. Ihm shot a one-under par 71 on Monday at Spirit Hollow Golf Course after opening with a four-under par 68 on Sunday. Ihm’s 139 two-day total placed him third individually, two strokes off the lead.
“I played really well again, and got off to another great start on the front nine,” said Ihm, a native of Peosta, Iowa. “The course played a little tougher coming in on the back, and the scores showed that. It’s still a good round, and I’m going to be happy with it. I’m within striking distance.”
Spectators at the second day of action in Burlington found themselves following the feature pairing of the tournament, which including Ihm and Missouri’s Jace Long and Ball State’s Alex Stinson. Long, who has a stroke average under 68, will be leaving Spirit Hollow immediately after the tournament to play a PGA Tour Q-School event in Nebraska.
“I played really well again, and got off to another great start on the front nine. The course played a little tougher coming in on the back, and the scores showed that. It’s still a good round, and I’m going to be happy with it. I’m within striking distance.”
Junior Steven Ihm
Ihm and Long each went four-under to open the tournament while Stinson went three-under, and the trio would each leave themselves within range of the top of the leaderboard entering the final day.
“With Long, it felt a little bit like a match-play event,” said Ihm. “I’d make a birdie, then he would make a birdie, he’d make a long putt, then I’d make a long putt. It’s fun. It’s good to ride off each other’s success, and I thought we both were doing that today.”
After making birdie on each of his first four holes on day one, Ihm again started his round on fire. He made birdie on four of five holes through holes No. 4 and 8, and finished three-under par on the front nine.
Ihm made consecutive birdies on No. 13 and 14 and would bring his round to four-under par. As Ihm wrapped up his round, a stretch of inclement weather rolled through the course, increasing the difficulty of play with much stronger winds. Ihm finished with consecutive bogeys, leaving himself more to desire heading into the final day.
“I hit a few bad shots today and was a little disappointed after my round, but it’s still a decent score and I’m going to be happy with it,” said Ihm. “You can’t let bad shots affect you, and I’ll bear down for my last round and come out ready to go again.”
Ihm has led the Hawkeyes in four of five rounds this fall season and is beginning to catch the eye of the college golf world, according to Golfweek.com’s college golf analyst Lance Ringler.
“Last year, he was in the shadows of (Chris) Brant and (Barrett) Kelpin, so this is a great time for him to be breaking out,” said Ringler. “With coach Hankins, there is always a player on his team that isn’t very well known nationally that bursts on to the scene. Ihm fits that mold, and he’s off to a great start at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.”
Ihm will tee off hole No. 5 on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. looking to claim an individual title, and lead the Hawkeyes to the team title. Iowa currently sits in sixth place with a 583 (+7), 11 strokes behind tournament leader Missouri.