April 10, 2013
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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.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — One person’s distraction is another person’s motivation.
There are many positives to playing a golf tournament on your home course. The University of Iowa will experience that Saturday and Sunday with the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational on Finkbine Golf Course (7,180-yards, par-72). A potential drawback is how a player handles the larger-than-usual fan support.
For UI freshman Nate Yankovich, this weekend’s event will be the first time his father, Frank, gets to watch him in a collegiate setting.
“I’m excited because I’m comfortable with my dad,” Yankovich said. “It doesn’t add any pressure; it motivates me because I want to make him proud.”
Iowa looks to win its fourth consecutive championship in the 13-team field that begins Saturday with a 9 a.m. (CT) shotgun start. Action resumes Sunday at 9 a.m.
One player the Hawkeyes count on is Yankovich. So far in the spring season he has compiled a record of 2-1 at the Big Ten Match Play Championships, and a 2-0 mark at the Big Four Championships. He tied for 62nd with a 10-over par 220 at the U.S. Intercollegiate on March 28-30 in Palo Alto, Calif. — the first stroke-play tournament of the spring for the Hawkeyes.
“As a freshman, everything is brand new. My message to Nate is to play within yourself, try to manage your activation level — your nervousness, your relaxation. Since we’re playing on our home golf course, I don’t think anything will be surprising for him — it’s more about friends, family, crowd — a lot of distractions at our home tournament.”
UI head men’s golf coach
“As a freshman, everything is brand new,” UI head coach Mark Hankins said. “My message to Nate is to play within yourself, try to manage your activation level — your nervousness, your relaxation. Since we’re playing on our home golf course, I don’t think anything will be surprising for him — it’s more about friends, family, crowd — a lot of distractions at our home tournament.”
Yankovich hails from Blacklick, Ohio, and at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he has the strength to hit the ball far. He also has the ability to absorb instruction quickly and incorporate the new tricks into his repertoire.
“When he learns something, he is able to take it to the highest level,” Hankins said. “He has gotten substantially better because of the way he practices and the amount that he practices. His physical condition is much better than when he got here. Technically, his swing and putting are better.”
The tournament field includes five players ranked in the Golfstat Cup Standings, led by Iowa State’s Scott Fernandez (12th) and Iowa junior Steven Ihm (119th). Hankins believes any of the players on the Hawkeye roster have a chance at medalist honors, especially since they are playing Finkbine.
Predicting a numbers goal for a tournament is something Yankovich refuses to do; predicting a placement goal is not.
“Whenever I play an event, I want to win,” he said. “I’m going to try to win this golf tournament and take it one shot at a time. If I do that, I feel the sky is the limit.”
Yankovich carries an 18-hole average of 72.5 during six rounds this season with a low of 68. He is tied for lowest stroke average on the team with Ihm, who has played 18 rounds.
The Hawkeyes are the highest-ranked team in the tournament (No. 58). Other teams are Charlotte, Iowa State, Kansas, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Penn State, South Dakota State, Washington State, and Wisconsin. Iowa has a junior, three sophomores and a freshman in its varsity lineup.
“This is huge for us,” Hankins said. “We get to play on our home golf course and we need to take advantage of that.”
To read more coverage of the Hawkeye-Great River Invitational, click HERE.