IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s golf team begins the 2019-20 in four short days at the Gopher Invitational in Independence, Minnesota. Led by seniors and Big Ten Preseason honorees Alex Schaake and Benton Weinberg, the Hawkeyes are looking to qualify for their 11th NCAA Tournament in the last 12 years.
Here are a few things to watch for this season:
Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Alex Schaake
Schaake’s junior season was one of the best in Hawkeye history, claiming Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Year honors, the Les Bolstad Award, Division I PING All-Midwest Regional honors, and unanimous All-Big Ten First Team honors.
“Alex is someone who has won at every level of golf he’s played,” head coach Tyler Stith said. “He wants to play professional golf. He’s not going to get complacent because he was Big Ten Player of the Year. He had arguably the best year in the history of our program with the lowest stroke average in school history. He’s someone that has high expectations for himself and he has big goals.”
Last week, the Omaha, Nebraska, native earned Preseason Third-Team All-American honors by Golfweek.
“With the accolades I have received, I don’t think there is any added pressure,” Schaake said. “It’s motivation for me to do better. I didn’t take the third-team All-American preseason ranking too well because I believe I’m ranked higher than that.”
The Hawkeyes have four fall events and five tournaments in the spring before the Big Ten Championships in early May.
Three Tournaments Hosted by the Hawkeyes
Throughout the season, Iowa will host three tournaments. First, Iowa hosts the 11th annual GolfWeek Conference Challenge, Sept. 15-17, at Cedar Rapids Country Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Hawkeyes have been runners-up at the event the last two years with Black and Gold in the crowd.
“Having GolfWeek in a couple weeks is exciting,” Schaake said. “Knowing we’ll be here for a home event – we’re looking forward to that.”
Fast forward to the spring and Iowa will host the inaugural Calusa Cup, April 6-7, in Naples, Florida, which will feature eight of the nation’s top teams. The annual Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course and its newly renovated club house will be held on April 18-19.
Three New Freshmen
A new year means fresh faces. Freshmen Matthew Garside from Bettendorf, Iowa, Mac McClear from Hinsdale, Illinois, and Garrett Tighe from Algonquin, Illinois, joined the Hawkeyes in the fall.
“Garrett (Tighe) is going to play right away,” Stith said. “He qualified this week and he’ll make his debut at the Gopher Invitational. The other guys are going to play at some point this year. They’re all strong players and have fit into the team well. It’s a matter of time before they show their talents.”
Garside was the runner-up low amateur at the Iowa Open this summer, posting a four-under-par (212). McClear won three high school state championships and finished fifth at state as an individual.