Hawkeyes Host Annual Golfweek Conference Challenge

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The University of Iowa men’s golf team is set to host the annual Golfweek Conference Challenge this Friday through Sunday. The event will be held at Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa, for the seventh consecutive season. 

Friday, Sept. 30 — 18 holes, tee times starting at 9:00 off holes 1 and 10
Saturday, Oct. 1 — 18 holes, tee times starting at 9:00 off holes 1 and 10
Sunday, Oct. 2 — 18 holes, shotgun start at 8:30 

Fans can follow this weekend’s action by visiting golfstat.com for live scoring. Links can be found on the men’s golf schedule page on hawkeyesports.com

For an inside look at the Iowa men’s golf program and to access exclusive coverage, “like” Hawkeye men’s golf on Facebook and follow @IowaHawkeyeGolf on Twitter and Instagram.

Iowa is joined by an elite field of 11 teams from 11 different conferences. Charleston Southern (Big South), Idaho (Independent), James Madison (CAA), Kansas (Big 12), Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun),  McNeese State (Southland), Miami, Ohio (MAC), San Jose State (Mountain West), Southern Illinois (MVC), Texas A&M (SEC), UMKC (WAC). 

Spirit Hollow Golf Course will host the Golfweek Conference Challenge for the seventh consecutive year, playing as a par-72, stretching 7,301 yards. Spirt Hollow was ranked the No. 1 golf course in the state of Iowa in 2012. Opening in 2000, the course was designed by Richard Jacobson (ASGCA). Spirit Hollow has played host to the 2007 U.S. Amateur qualifier, the 2009 Iowa Senior Amateur Championship, the 2010 U.S. Open Qualifier, the 2011 Iowa Match-Play Championship and the 2012 Iowa Amateur Championship. The Hawkeyes have won the event at Spirit Hollow two times in program history, in 2010 and again in 2015. 

Iowa finished eighth at the Windon Memorial Classic in Glenview, Illinois, Sept. 25-26. Sophomore Matthew Walker guided the Hawkeyes, opening with back-to-back 70’s (-2) in the first two rounds. Walker finished with a 77 (+5) in the final round for a three-round total of 217 (+1) to tie for eighth overall. 

Iowa will defend its Golfweek Conference Challenge title this weekend. The Hawkeyes claimed the team title with a 54-hole total of 842 (-22) — the fifth best 54-hole score in program history. It marked Tyler Stith’s first win as head coach at Iowa. Raymond Knoll is the defending individual medalist from the 2015 GolfWeek Conference Challenge. He claimed co-medalist honors with a 54 hole total of 205 (-11; 66, 67, 72) — the lowest three-round total in program history.

In its short history, the Golfweek Conference Challenge has attracted some of the top teams and players from around the country. Some of the most notable names include Bryson DeChambeau (SMU), Brooks Koepka (Florida State), Max Homa (UC Berkley), Harold Varner (ECU), and Albin Choi (N.C. State).

“Spirit Hollow is a golf course the guys enjoy playing. They feel comfortable there. Ray’s (Knoll) score last year was the best in school history. Every year is going to be a little different. The course will be set up different, and the playing conditions will be different, but I know it’s a place everyone enjoys playing, and we anticipate being in contention on Sunday.”

Seniors Raymond Knoll and Carson Schaake, and sophomore Matthew Walker were named to the 2016 Big Ten Men’s Golf Preseason Watch List.
Knoll competed in every tournament for the Hawkeyes last year, averaging 73 strokes-per -round. He led Iowa with 10 rounds at par or better in the spring. Knoll finished in the top 20 in four events in the spring, including a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. 
Schaake — the 2015 Big TenChampion averaged 72.97 strokes-per-round in his junior  campaign. He finished at or below par in eight rounds and was Iowa’s top finisher in each of the last three 2016 spring events. 
Walker competed in every tournament last season, becoming the first true freshman to do so since 1992 (Sean McCarty). Walker averaged 73.33 strokes-per-round in the spring and shot at or below par in eight rounds.  

Carson Schaake and Raymond Knoll are the lone seniors leading the Hawkeyes this season.  Knoll is the defending individual champion from the 2015 Golfweek Conference Challenge . He won the prestigious event with a 54-hole total of 205 (-11; 66, 67, 72) — the lowest three-round total in program history. Schaake won the individual Big Ten Championship title as a sophomore in 2015, becoming the third Hawkeye in program history to win a Big Ten Conference Title. 

Sophomore Matthew Walker competed in every event for the Hawkeyes as a freshman. The Ottumwa, Iowa, native was the first true freshman to compete in every fall tournament for the Hawkeyes since Cole Peevler in 2005. 

Iowa’s adds four freshmen to the its 2016-17 roster. Ryoto Furuya (Georgia), Alex Schaake (Nebraska), Jack Simpson (Ontario), and Benton Weinberg (Maryland).

2015-16 RECAP
The Hawkeyes ended the spring season at the NCAA Regionals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It marked the program’s eight straight NCAA Regional appearance. The spring season was highlighted by a second place finish at the Big Ten Championships, in Newburgh, Indiana, marking the third straight year that Iowa has placed third or better at the event. 
The highlight of the fall came at Iowa’s own GolfWeek Conference Challenge, where the Hawkeyes claimed the team title and junior Raymond Knoll earned co-medalist honors. As a team, the Hawkeyes averaged 75.25 strokes per round in the fall and tallied 15 rounds of at or below par golf.  Junior Carson Schaake led the team with five, including a fourth-place finish at the David Toms Intercollegiate.

Iowa has advanced to NCAA competition in each of the last eight seasons, joining Illinois as the only Big Ten teams selected to NCAA Regional competition in each of the last eight seasons. Iowa has advanced to the NCAA Championship finals three times in the last seven years (2009, 2011, 2012).

Iowa has won 12 tournaments since 2008 and has had 15 individual medalists since 2009, including Carson Schaake, who was crowned individual co-champion at the 2015 Big Ten Championships and Raymond Knoll who won last year’s GolfWeek Conference Challenge.  The Hawkeyes have also had three All-Americans since 2008.

Following the Golfweek Conference Challenge, the Hawkeyes will take a week off before traveling to Denver, Colorado, for the Paintbrush Intercollegiate from October 10-11.  The two-day tournament is hosted by the University of Denver.