Hawkeyes Look for Third Straight Big Four Title

Feb. 27, 2014

Iowa Golfers Talk About the Start of the 2014 Spring Season

The University of Iowa men’s golf team travels to Chandler, Ariz., to participate in the Big Four Exhibition at the Lone Tree Golf Club on March 1. The one-day match play event pits Iowa against a field of in-state rivals: Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Drake.

The annual exhibition event uses a medal-match format, in which Iowa will face either Drake in the first round. The winner of the match will face either Iowa State or Northern Iowa in the final round, while the remaining teams will battle for third place.

Iowa is the highest ranked team in the field at 46th in the Golfstat.com Relative Rankings, followed by Iowa State at 53rd. Northern Iowa and Drake hold the 200th and 234th, respectively. In the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, Iowa comes in at 44th while Iowa State holds the 46th position. Steven Ihm and Ian Vandersee are currently ranked in the Golfstat Cup Standings at 171st and 203rd respectively, while Iowa State’s Nick Voke and Scott Fernandez hold the 96th and 122nd positions.

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.

All eight golfers on the Iowa roster will see action for the Hawkeyes this weekend. Sophomore Voramate Aussarassakorn and freshman Carson Schaake will make their first appearances of the season. Steven Ihm, Brian Bullington, Ryan Marks, Ian Vandersee, Nate Yankovich and Raymond Knoll all saw action in the Big Ten Match Play Championships.

The Hawkeyes earned a fourth place finish at the Big Ten Match Play Championships on Feb. 14-15, defeating Ohio State in the second round before falling to Michigan and Northwestern in the subsequent matchups. Freshman Raymond Knoll and junior Brian Bullington stole the show for the Hawkeyes, posting 2-1 records over Friday and Saturday’s matches. The event will be broadcast via tape delay on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, March 16 at a time to be determined.

In 2013, the Hawkeyes captured the Big Four Championships title, defeating Drake in the first round, 6-0, and Iowa State in the championship round, 5-1. Steven Ihm, Ian Vandersee and Brian Bullington all went 2-0 in their matches, while Ryan Marks finished with a 1-1 record. Iowa also won the 2012 event, beating Drake in the first round, 5-1, and edging Iowa State in the championship round. The Hawkeyes and Cyclones tied, 3-3, but Iowa won on the tiebreaker of total 18-hole scores (413-419). Ihm posted the low-round for Iowa with a 2-under 69, while collecting a 2-0 record for the event.

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.

In the first four events of the fall, head coach Mark Hankins employed four different starting lineups. All eight golfers on the Hawkeye roster have made appearances thus far in the 2013-14 season, including two freshmen, Raymond Knoll and Carson Schaake.

Senior Steven Ihm joined elite company as he won the 60th Annual Sunnehanna Amateur on June 16th. 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 season. 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. Senior 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, senior Steven Ihm and junior 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.