Hawkeyes Aim for Four-Peat at Finkbine

April 9, 2013

Media Day Photo Gallery

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Many University of Iowa men’s golf student-athletes echoed the same sentiments at Tuesday’s media day at Finkbine Golf Course — they’re ready to get out and defend their home golf course.

Iowa hosts the 20th annual Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational this weekend, hosting a quality 12-team field on the par-72, 7,180-yard course. The Hawkeyes will be aiming for their fourth consecutive championship in the event and 14th in program history.

Thirty-six holes will be played Saturday with a shotgun start beginning at 9 a.m. (CT), while Sunday’s final round will also be played at 9 a.m. (CT).

“It means a lot of have that type of tradition at your home event,” said junior Steven Ihm, a second-team All-Big Ten selection last year. “It’s awesome winning your home tournament, and that’s everyone’s goal when you get to host. We’re definitely trying to continue that tradition this year. We’re prepared and are feeling good, so now it all comes down to going out and executing.”

After playing seven of their first eight events out of state, head coach Mark Hankins and the UI men’s golf team return to Finkbine Golf Course for a tournament that has steadily grown each year. The event has been played each of the past three years after a four-year hiatus. Thanks to the efforts of numerous involved with the program, the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment has evolved into a premiere tournament.

Great River Entertainment’s contributions as title sponsors have made the tournament as affordable as possible to the teams. Finally, bringing in a quality field and hosting on a premier course goes a long towards the tournament’s perception.

“It all comes down to us making sure we are doing the best job we can to run a great event and make it a quality one,” said Hankins. “We do a lot of things that the top-national tournaments do and a few things that are unique to this event, and it adds up to a great tournament. We’re very excited to be hosting this.”

The Hawkeyes set a tournament record score at this event last year, carding a three-round tally of a 840 (-24). Iowa returns five players that competed at this event in 2012, including three that placed in the top-11 of the leaderboard; Ian Vandersee (7th), Joseph Winslow (10th) and Ihm (11th).

It will take three great rounds from the entire Hawkeye lineup to pull off the four-peat.

“This field keeps improving, so it has meant a lot more for us lately to win the championship here,” said Hankins. “I think a top-three finish would be a quality one. If we take care of what we need to and manage our individual goals, it can really be a successful tournament for us.”

The three-round tournament features six Big Ten teams (Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin), two Big 12 teams (Iowa State, Kansas) and teams from the Big East (Notre Dame), Pac 12 (Washington State), Atlantic 10 (Charlotte) and Mid-American (Miami).

Live results will be available at http://www.golfstat.com/. Stay tuned to hawkeyesports.com for complete coverage of the 2013 Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational.

JUNIOR Steven Ihm

On hosting a tournament… “It’s a lot of fun to be playing a tournament on a course you are really comfortable with, and it’s also fun to have friends and family be able to come out and watch. It makes for a great atmosphere.”

On his experience at Finkbine… “I lived an hour north of here, so I played numerous high school events on Finkbine. I had played this course quite a bit when I came here as a sophomore, and I think that really helped me in qualifying that season because I was so familiar with the course.”

SOPHOMORE Ian Vandersee

On the team’s experience last week at the U.S. Intercollegiate… “We learned a lot through two and a half rounds at Stanford and almost finished it off, and we know that’s something we need to correct. I think that this tournament is going to be a great way to start building confidence and make that final push toward where we think we need to be as individuals and as a team.”

On the improvement of the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational… “With the re-establishment of the tournament four years ago, it’s been stronger every year. It gets more recognition each time as people start to talk about it. It has the potential to be a really good tournament.”

SOPHOMORE Joseph Winslow

On the team’s goals this weekend… “I think every here wants to finish in the top-10 of this tournament, and we all have the ability to do that. We always want to win and every guy is motivated to do that. I definitely think that we can. I know we’ve all been feeling good about our games, and everybody was in that same mentality last year when we won.”

On what he’s learned from Finkbine… “It’s a good thinking man’s course. You have to manage the tight tree line and quick greens, so it teaches you a lot about how to think on the course. For me, one of the biggest things I’ve picked up on is having creativity around the trees and the ability to shape your shot.”

SOPHOMORE Brian Bullington

On Iowa’s history of success at the event… “It means a lot to have that success at this event. It’s a home event and that means playing in front of your own fans on a course you are very comfortable with. We all know how to play this course and that definitely plays a role in it.”

On his confidence after a career low three-round score at Stanford… “My confidence level is good. It was a good tournament. I left a lot of shots out there, but then against I played really well for most of the tournament, too. It’s a good building block, and I look forward to building on that this week at home.”

FRESHMAN Nate Yankovich

On playing for the first time in the varsity lineup last week… “It will help a lot because I learned a few things as far as my pre-round routines goes and how to manage my emotions. I was pretty amped and nervous at times. I settled down coming in on the back nine and felt confident in my play, so it was important to get through that. It was a good first event and learning experience.”

On his experience at Finkbine… “This course is actually a lot like my home course. It’s tree lined and can challenge you in a variety of areas, but there are also a lot of birdie opportunities to take advantage of.”

JUNIOR Ryan Marks

On managing expectations at a home event… “You try not to set the expectations any higher when you play at home so you can stay relaxed out there and in your routine. I’m looking to be as patient as possible and let the score come to me.”

On the quality of the event… `We can tell that it’s been getting stronger each year. We seem to bring in a good field each year and it always provides a great test for us.”

FRESHMAN Landon Kowalski

On getting to practice last week at Finkbine… “It was great to get out last week and play four or five days out here. I was surprised how good the greens were, and they’re only getting better each day. The course is in good shape and we are prepared for it.”

FRESHMAN Voramate Aussarassakorn

On being excited to play at Finkbine… “It’s exciting to be playing at home. We played here almost every day last week and worked hard, and I think that’s helped prepare me to play this weekend.”

On how we wants to play the course… “It’s a tough course. It’s very tight out there. My goal will be to try and hit every fairway and keep my patience.”