Hawkeyes Head to Tempe for Thunderbird Invitational

March 19, 2014

The University of Iowa men’s golf team travels to Tempe, Ariz., to compete in the 42nd annual ASU Thunderbird Invitational at Karsten Golf Course on March 21-23.

The 14-team field team includes Arizona State, Arizona, Colorado State, Denver, Fresno State, Hawaii, Iowa, Iowa State, New Mexico State, Pepperdine, San Diego, St. Johns, Tulsa, Washington State, and Wichita State. Arizona State has captured seven of the last 15 tournament titles. Iowa comes in to the tournament as the second-highest ranked team (46) according the Golfstat Relative Rankings, behind host Arizona State (33).

Arizona State’s Karsten Golf Course will play as a par-71, 7,026 yard course. Given a 4 1/2 star rating by Golf Digest, Karsten Golf Course was built in 1989 and has served as Arizona State’s home course since.

Steven Ihm, Ian Vandersee, Brian Bullington, Voramate Aussarassakorn and Raymond Knoll will see action for the Hawkeyes at the ASU Thunderbird Classic.

This is Iowa’s first appearance in the event.

The Hawkeyes captured their third consecutive Big Four Exhibition title on March 1, defeating Drake in the first round (6-0) before moving on to best Iowa State in the finals (3.5-2.5). Steven Ihm led the charge for Iowa, finishing with a record of 2-0 and posting the lowest 36-hole score of all participating golfers with a seven-under par 135 (67-68). In his career at Iowa, Ihm is 6-0 in Big Four Exhibition individual matches. Ian Vandersee excelled in the No. 1 position for the Hawkeyes, as he also finished with a 2-0 record. Vandersee posted a three-over par 145 (73-72) on the day. Juniors Brian Bullington, Ryan Marks finished with a 1-1 record while sophomore Nate Yankovich posted a 2-0 record on the day. Freshman Raymond Knoll closed with a 1-0-1 record. Bullington and Yankovich tied for the third-lowest score in the event, as both fired a three-under par score of 139. Two Hawkeyes competed as individuals in Saturday’s event, as sophomore Voramate Aussarassakorn posted rounds of 70-73 (+1) and freshman Carson Schaake shot 72-71 (+1).

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.

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. Knoll will appear in his fifth consecutive event at the ASU Thunderbird Classic.

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 championships in 2013, and have successfully defended one of its titles this spring with a third consecutive crown at the Big Four Exhibition on March 1. 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. They again bested Drake and Iowa State by scores of 6-0 and 3.5-2.5 respectively to retain 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. The Hawkeyes will travel to the 2014 version of the Boilermaker Invitational on April 19-20.

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.

Iowa will host the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational on April 12-13 at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes finished 2nd in last year’s event.

The Big Ten Match Play Championships, which were played on Feb. 14-15, will air on tape delay on the Big Ten Network at the following times: Thursday, March 20 at 7 A.M. (ET) and Monday, March 24 at 12:30 P.M. (ET).