Back From Break, Hawkeyes Ready to Compete

Oct. 11, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s golf team had a 24 day mid-season break between tournaments and will use that rest as an advantage at the Rod Myers Invitational this weekend. The team did a little bit of everything, whether it was working on their swing, catching up in class or preparing for a busy upcoming golf schedule.

With their batteries re-charged, the Hawkeyes are ready to get back in the thick of things.

“Golf is an individual sport, so we had a lot of guys working on a variety of things they felt needed attention,” said UI head coach Mark Hankins. “More than anything, they had to manage their time between academics and athletics appropriately. We’ve done a good job of that, and now it just comes down to executing when we get there.”

The Hawkeyes entered the three-week hiatus with momentum, coming off their best finish of the year at the Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa. Iowa finished with a three-round total of 877 (+13) to place fourth in a competitive field.

Iowa will be looking to build off that, considering the competition is going to stay strong, and perhaps get stronger, beginning with the Rod Myers Invitational. Iowa is one of 11 teams in the field, and is one of 10 teams in the field that is ranked within the top-100 of the rankings. Five teams playing are either ranked or receiving votes in the Golfworld/Nike Golf Coaches Poll, and five teams are ranked within the top-50 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.

“Were familiar with a few of these teams already,” said Hankins. “We gain confidence from being up against this level of competition, and we also realize that we need to just worry about what we’re doing, and if we stick to that we will be able to compete well against any team out there.”

Iowa has had success at this tournament before, especially in 2010 when the Hawkeyes set the Rod Myers Invitational record for low team three-round score, a blistering 13-under par, 851. Iowa’s first round that year was an 11-under, 277. The Hawkeyes also fared well at the event last season, placing fourth (883/+19) out of 11 teams.

Three players competing this weekend will have experience at the tournament, with junior Steven Ihm and sophomores Ian Vandersee and Brian Bullington competing at the event last season. Ihm finished runner-up and went three-under, which would kick start a tremendous rookie season for the Indian Hills Community College transfer. Vandersee tied for 36th (228/+12) and Bullington tied for 38th (229/+13).

“Steven had a great result at Duke last year, and that is something he is capable of building off of,” said Hankins. “We have three of five guys that saw the course last year and learned from that experience, and will be ready to improve from that.”

Ihm, Vandersee, Bullington, junior Ryan Marks and sophomore Joseph Winslow will round out Iowa’s five-man team at the Rod Myers Invitational. Meanwhile, freshmen Landon Kowalski, Nate Yankovich and Voramate Aussarassakorn will be traveling to the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational, hosted by Ball State at the Delaware Country Club in Muncie, Ind.

Bullington said he and his teammates were happy with the break, but are more than ready to get back into action.

“We’re excited for the competition, especially after all this time off,” said Bullington. “I think having that break really helps get that bug back. We’re all itching to get out there, and we’re excited about the three-week stretch we have ahead of us.”