By: BRANDEE BRITT
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Fresh off a pair of top-three tournament finishes, the University of Iowa men’s golf team enters this weekend’s Big Ten Championships with confidence.
“All we need to do is have everyone come out with the confidence that we can all win and not worry about the end result,” said senior Carson Schaake. “We have put in the work, now we just have to go play and have fun.
“If we are all focused I think we can come home Sunday night as Big Ten champions.That’s something I have wanted since I was a freshman. It’s going to be fun.”
After finishing second in a 14-team field at the Hawkeye Invitational on April 16, the Hawkeyes notched a third-place finish out of 15 teams at the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate on April 23. Iowa finished behind No. 10 Illinois and No. 12 Kent State, and defeated six Big Ten teams in the field, including 49th-ranked Penn State.
Individually, the Hawkeyes have posted six top-15 finishes in their last two tournaments. Carson Schaake carded a five-under-par 211 — his best 54-hole performance of the year –to finish fourth at the Hawkeye Invite, before notching a third-place finish at the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate.
“My game has evolved over the past couple of months,” said Carson Schaake, the 2015 Big Ten co-medalist. “When I won Big Tens a couple years ago, everything just came together at the perfect time. I feel like my game is peaking at the right time, and I’m confident the late night and early morning practices will pay off and make a difference when it comes down to the end.
“I am happy with how I am playing. As long as I keep giving myself chances to win it will happen.”
Sophomore Matthew Walker (twice), senior Raymond Knoll, and freshman Jack Simpson also notched top-15 finishes in the past two weeks.
“As a team, we need to stay patient and play our game,” said Walker. “We have been trending in the right direction this spring, and I expect that to continue at the Big Ten Championships. If we just play our game then good things will happen.”
Five Hawkeyes — seniors Carson Schaake and Knoll, Walker, and freshmen Alex Schaake and Simpson — will tee off today at Baltimore Country Club’s Five Farms East Course. The tournament consists of 54 holes.
Three of Iowa’s five competitors all notched top-10 finishes at the 2016 Big Ten Championships. Carson Schaake finished fourth, while Knoll and Walker finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
“The team is starting to come together and play strong at the right time,” Carson Schaake added. “As a team, we always look forward to the Big Ten Championships. We want to win this, because we know the importance it holds.”
The Hawkeyes begin competition at the Big Ten Championships at 8:45 a.m. (CT). Iowa is paired with No. 50 Penn State and No. 54 Michigan. Live stats are available on golfstat.com.