Hawkeyes Set for Big Ten Match Play Championships

Feb. 12, 2014

Iowa Golfers Talk About the Start of the 2014 Spring Season

The University of Iowa men’s golf team begins its 2014 spring schedule by traveling to Bradenton, Fla., to compete in the sixth annual Big Ten Match Play Championships, held at the Concession Golf Club. The two-day event begins on Friday, in which the first two rounds of the tournament will be played. The semifinals and finals will take place on Saturday. Iowa received the fourth seed in the event, giving them a first-round bye. The Hawkeyes will face the winner of the Nebraska-Ohio State match in the second round. Live stats will be available at http://www.ajga.org/big10MPC/.

Each team will play five players per match, with the option of substituting a sixth player between matches. Each match will be comprised of five singles matches, using USGA match play scoring. The winner of each singles match will be awarded one point, whereas ties will garner a half-point. Team totals will be calculated by adding all singles match points together, with the team with the most points being declared the winner.

All 12 members of the Big Ten Conference make up the field, of which four are currently ranked in the top 50 of the Golfstat.com rankings. Illinois leads the pack with a No. 5 ranking, followed by Northwestern (32), Purdue (35), and Iowa (48). All four schools ranked in the top 50 received a first-round bye.

The event will air on March 16 on the Big Ten Network at a time to be determined.

In 2013, the Hawkeyes earned a third place finish at the Big Ten Match Play Championships. The Hawkeyes defeated Ohio State in the third place match by a score of 3.5-1.5. Brian Bullington, Ian Vandersee and sophomore Nate Yankovich finished with a 2-1 record, while Steven Ihm ended the tournament with a 1-1-1 record.

The Concession is a 7,474 yard, 18-hole, par-72 course. Designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, The Concession was named one of America’s 75 Toughest Courses by Golf Digest in 2012. The course, which is hosting the Big Ten Match Play Championships for the third-consecutive year, will host the 2015 Men’s and Women’s NCAA Championships.

The Big Ten Match Play Championships allow teams to play five golfers per match, with the option of substituting a sixth golfer in between matches. Junior Ian Vandersee will make his second consecutive appearance in the event. Vandersee participated in the 2013 Big Ten Match Play Championships, where he defeated Ohio State’s Tee-K Kelly in the third place match. Senior Steven Ihm makes his third consecutive appearance in the event after posting a 1-1-1 record in the 2013 event. Junior Brian Bullington will compete in the event for the third consecutive year. Bullington posted a 2-1 record in the 2013 event. Freshman Raymond Knoll will make his first ever appearance in the Big Ten Match Play Championships. Knoll competed in three events in the fall. Senior Ryan Marks will make his first ever appearance in the Big Ten Match Play Championships. Marks played in three events in the fall and tied for 13th place individually at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Sophomore Nate Yankovich will compete in the event for the second consecutive year. Yankovich finished with a record of 2-1 in last year’s event.

The Hawkeyes finished in the top-half of the standings in three of their five events in the fall, closing out their schedule with a tie for sixth place at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. Senior Steven Ihm led the squad with nine rounds at or below par. Ihm carded the low score in two of Iowa’s five fall events. Junior Ian Vandersee led the Hawkeyes with a 71.78 18-hole average while posting the squad’s low score at the Rod Myers Invitational and the U.S. Collegiate Championship.

Since taking command of the University of Iowa men’s golf program in 2007, head coach Mark Hankins has established the Hawkeyes as a competitive force in collegiate golf. Iowa has advanced to NCAA Regionals each of the past five seasons, and has advanced to the NCAA Finals three of the last five seasons.

Senior Steven Ihm joined elite company as he won the 60th Annual Sunnehanna Amateur on June 16th, 2013. PGA TOUR professionals such as Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, and Lucas Glover won the same event early in their careers. The Peosta, Iowa, native shot an eight-under par (272) for the four-round tournament, winning by two strokes over Cory Whitsett of Alabama. A month later, Ihm earned a sponsor’s exemption to the John Deere Classic, making his first career PGA TOUR appearance. The senior birdied his first hole of the tournament, and is believed to be the first UI golfer to earn a sponsor’s exemption to the Silvis, Ill., tournament.

Iowa captured two tournament titles in 2013, and will return to both venues to defend their championships this spring. The Hawkeyes won the Big Four Championships in Chandler, Ariz., last February, with five players going 2-0 in match play. Iowa beat Drake, 6-0, in the first round and defeated Iowa State, 5-1, in the final round to take the title. Iowa’s second title came at the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind., tying for first-place out of 18 teams. Steven Ihm earned co-medalist honors just one week after medaling at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa has won eleven tournaments since 2008, had twelve individual medalists since 2009 and has had three All-Americans since 2008. Last season, Steven Ihm and Joseph Winslow became the 11th and 12th Iowa players to be named to the all-regional team since 2009.

HEAD COACH Mark Hankins
Head coach Mark Hankins is in his seventh season as head coach. He has guided the Hawkeyes to five straight NCAA Regional appearances, and to the NCAA Championships three times in the past five years. Iowa was ranked 155th when Hankins took over the program in 2008, yet the Hawkeyes have been consistently ranked within the top-60 for the past three years. Hankins is a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.