Streaking to the Finish Line

May 1, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s golf team is firing on all cylinders heading into the Big Ten Golf Championships, set for May 2-4 in French Lick, Ind.

Iowa has recorded strong finishes in all five of its events this spring, winning its last two tournaments.

The Hawkeyes ran away with the team title at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational on April 12-13 in Iowa City, shooting team scores of 286(-2), 282(-6), 285(-3) for a 853(-11) total, topping second-place finisher Iowa State (+4) by 15 strokes. Iowa led throughout the entire tournament and tied the seventh-best 54-hole score (853) in program history.

The Hawkeyes followed that up by defending their title at the Boilermaker Invitational, April 19-20. Iowa carded a one-over-par 54-hole score of 865, with a 14-under-par final round score of 274. Iowa entered the final round in fourth place and trailed Big Ten opponent Illinois by 10 strokes. The Hawkeyes used the second-best round in school history (-14) to surge into first place, jumping nationally-ranked UCLA and Louisville.

The two titles came on the heels of strong finishes in Iowa’s first three spring events. The Hawkeyes placed fourth at the Big Ten Match Play Championships (Feb. 14-15), won the Big Four Championship (March 1), and finished runner-up at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational (March 21-23).

Iowa finished third at last year’s Big Ten Championships, trailing only eventual NCAA runner-up Illinois and Minnesota.

“We won at Purdue last year and carried some of that momentum into the Big Ten Championships,” said UI head coach Mark Hankins. “We played pretty well, finished third and lost to a good Illinois team. Minnesota had a good week that week and we were not far off.

“We have three guys with experience in Steven (Ihm), Brian (Bullington), and Ian (Vandersee) that will be familiar with the golf course and tournament,” said Hankins. “We have two new guys traveling in Carson (Schaake) and Raymond (Knoll). Just like the entire field at any tournament, you are going to have to adapt quickly and post the best numbers that they can individually to contend for a top finish.”

Impressive individual finishes have guided Iowa to team success.

Senior Steven Ihm was named Co-Big Ten Golfer of the Week for the second-consecutive week and fifth time of his career on April 23 after he successfully defended his individual title at the Boilermaker Invitational and won medalist honors for the second-straight week.

Ihm carded a seven-under-par 54-hole score of 209 at the Kampen Golf Course, highlighted by a career-best final round eight-under-par 64 in which he birdied seven of his first eight holes. The 18-hole score is the second-best in program history. Ihm was also named the Golfweek Player of the Week and Iowa was named the Golfweek Team of the Week following the Hawkeyes’ victory in the 15-team Boilermaker Invitational.

“With this Big Ten field, a top-three finish is solid,” said Hankins. “We will put all of our focus and concentration on the things we can control, try to perform individually to reach our team goals. This is another important tournament in qualification for NCAA Regionals and Finals.

“It’s a special tournament, but you have to treat it mentally and physically like we have each week and believe in your process. Dealing with nerves and expectation is something these guys do every week and even in the summer. You have to keep pushing yourself to stay in the present and ride that until you sign your scorecard after the final round.”