Feb. 14, 2013
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The University of Iowa men’s golf team returns to action this weekend in a battle for in-state bragging rights, competing at the Big Four Match Play Championships. The Hawkeyes will face Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake at the Lone Tree Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., on Saturday.
The annual competition, which is an exhibition event, pits the state’s four major programs in a six-on-six medal-match competition. Iowa will meet Drake in the morning round before meeting either Iowa State or Northern Iowa in the afternoon.
Iowa is the highest ranked team in the field, checking in at 50th in the Golfstat.com NCAA Head-to-Head Rankings. The Cyclones rank 92nd, while Northern Iowa (215) and Drake (251) currently sit outside the top-100. The Hawkeyes are also ranked 56th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. TOP INDIVIDUALS
Two competitors in the field are ranked in the top-100 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Individual Rankings, led by Iowa State sophomore Scott Fernandez. Fernandez is ranked 11th. Iowa’s Steven Ihm has climbed to the No. 95 spot.
The Lone Tree Golf Club plays as a 6,984 yard par-71 from the tips. The course was designed by architect Darryl Wilson of the CMX Group and opened in January of 2001. This semi-private, traditional-style course features five holes with water and one with an island green. The course’s main feature is its 573-yard, par-five 18th hole.
LAST TIME OUT
The Hawkeyes earned a third place finish at the Big Ten Match Play Championships last week, closing with a 2-1 record and a 9-5-1 record in individual matches.
Third-seeded Iowa received a bye in the first round and defeated Purdue, 4-1, in the quarterfinals. Ihm, Ian Vandersee, Brian Bullington and Nate Yankovich won their matches. Iowa fell, 3-2, to Michigan State in the semifinals despite victories from Joseph Winslow and Nate Yankovich. Iowa rebounded in the third-place match with a 3.5-1.5 win against Ohio State. Winslow, Vandersee and Bullington won their matches, while Ihm halved his.
Winslow, Vandersee, Bullington and Yankovich each had a 2-1 record, while Ihm finished 1-1-1.
Freshman Nate Yankovich was inserted into the No. 5 position in the Big Ten Match Play Championships, and the Blacklick, Ohio, native didn’t disappoint.
Yankovich picked up two of Iowa’s most decisive victories. He defeated Ben-Marven Egel, 3&1, to help Iowa reach the semifinals. He also defeated Michigan State’s Garreth Blease, 7&5. Yankovich finished with a 2-1 record at the event.
VANDERSEE CLOSES FALL WITH TITLE
Sophomore Ian Vandersee provided fireworks for Iowa in the final fall event, winning the individual title at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. Vandersee shot a seven-under, 206, which is tied for the lowest three-round score in program history. His opening round 65 (-6) is tied for the third lowest 18-hole score in program history. Vandersee became the 50th Hawkeye to win medalist honors, and was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week for his efforts.
IHM LEADING THE WAY
Junior Steven Ihm recorded nine rounds at or below par and had two top-10 finishes in the fall, both of which were team highs. Ihm placed second at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (209/-7) and fifth at the Rod Myers Invitational (216/E). The Peosta, Iowa, native carded his best round of the season in the opening round at Spirit Hollow Golf Course, a four-under par, 68. Ihm is currently ranked 96th in the Golfweek/Sagarin individual rankings.
2012 BIG FOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Iowa claimed the team title at the 2012 Big Four Match Play Championships. Iowa opened with a 5-1 victory over Drake, and closed with a 3-3 (413-419) win against Iowa State. Ihm, Vandersee and Winslow competed at the event last year. Ihm went 2-0.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
The Hawkeyes have the 19th-ranked strength of schedule in the nation, according to Golfweek.com.
Every player on the roster has seen action in at least one tournament this season. Four players played all 15 rounds (Ihm, Vandersee, Bullington, Marks), while Winslow played 12. Freshman Landon Kowalski made his collegiate debut at the season-opening Golden Gopher Invitational. Each freshman (Kowalski, Aussarassakorn, Yankovich) competed individually at the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational in Ball State as well.
A PROGRAM ON THE RISE
Under head coach Mark Hankins, the Hawkeyes are a program heading in the right direction. Iowa has advanced to NCAA postseason play in four consecutive seasons. The Hawkeyes have also reached the NCAA Championships three of the past four seasons, and are one of just 22 teams in the nation to do so. Iowa has won eight tournaments since 2008, had six individual medalists since 2009 and has had three All-Americans since 2008.
HEAD COACH Mark Hankins
Head coach Mark Hankins enters his sixth season as head coach. Under Hankins’ guidance, Iowa has advanced to NCAA postseason competition the past four seasons. The Hawkeyes have advanced to three NCAA Championships in the past four years, and is one of just 22 teams in the nation to do so. Iowa was ranked 155th when Hankins took over the program in 2008, yet the Hawkeyes have been consistently ranked within the top-30 for the past three years. Hankins is a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and a graduate of Iowa State.
The Hawkeyes will take a month off before competing in their Spring Break Match in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 24. Iowa begins its competition spring season four days after the event with the U.S. Intercollegiate in Palo Alto, Calif.