IOWA CITY, Iowa — The No. 43 University of Iowa men’s golf team got off to a hot start at the Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday, finishing with a six-stroke lead and in first place after the first two rounds of competition. Iowa is seeking its 16th team championship at the event, which the Hawkeyes host annually at the par-72 Finkbine Golf Course.
Iowa notched a first-round score of 272 (-16), good for the fourth-best 18-hole round in program history.
Fifth-year senior Alex Schaake put in a dominant 11-under par (133) performance to position himself alone in first place heading into Sunday’s final round. Schaake’s bogey-free first round score of 65 (-7) matches sophomore Mac McClear’s final round at the Spartan Collegiate for Iowa’s lowest score of the season and the fourth-lowest 18-hole score in school history.
Schaake carded five birdies on the front nine to start the day and finished the first round with seven birdies. His second-round score of 68 puts him five spots ahead of the field on the leaderboard.
“I’m just having so much fun, honestly,” says Schaake. “I want to go out there [tomorrow] and do the same thing I did today, home golf course, going out there and pretending like it’s another day at the course playing Finkbine.”
The Hawkeye veteran shattered records at the 2019 Hawkeye Invitational, finishing with a program-best 54-hole score of 199 (-17) alongside teammate Matthew Walker. Schaake recorded a round of 63 that year that was good for the second-best 18-hole round in program history. For Schaake, to win the event again this season would be a great accomplishment in and of itself.
“As long as I have been at Iowa, we have never won twice in a season,” Schaake says. “We’ve never had multiple winners from our team in a season. Hopefully, we can get it done tomorrow. I have total faith in all my teammates. We are all playing pretty well, we can use some of the course knowledge we have and go out there and play smart but play aggressive.”
McClear and junior Gonzalo Leal-Montero round out the top five for Iowa, finishing fourth and tied for fifth, respectively. Leal Montero sank 12 birdies to bring himself to 4-under par (138) for the day. The Seville, Spain, native fired off four birdies in five holes on the back nine in the first round, including three in a row. McClear opened the day with four birdies on his first eight holes and had just four bogies on the day.
HEAD COACH TYLER STITH
“What I’m going to talk to them about tonight is I want them to go out and play with the aggressive mindset that they would on any day out here. This is our home golf course. We don’t want to think about it too much or do anything different than we normally would. Do the same things that we did this morning that led to our success and go out and enjoy being in the final group with a chance to win.
“It would be great to pick up another win. I look at it as another step towards preparing towards our ultimate goal; to compete for a Big Ten championship and make it to NCAA’s. I think it would be a good way for our super seniors to go out, but we have got a lot of work to do. Two good teams are close behind us, so we have got to play well and close this out.”
|Gonzalo Leal Montero
- Iowa sank 46 birdies on the day, which was the best in the field on Saturday. Alex Schaake and Gonzalo Leal Montero led the Hawkeyes in birdies with 15 and 12 apiece; that marks the two best totals among all competitors.
- Schaake recorded zero bogies in the first round. He has recorded scores of 63, 72, 64, 65, and 68 in his last five rounds at the Hawkeye Invitational.
- Leal Montero’s round of 68 (-4) ties a season-best 18-hole score for the junior.
- Five Hawkeyes ended the first round below par (Schaake, McClear, Leal-Montero, Rowe, Jahn).
- Sophomore Garrett Tighe, who is competing unattached, is tied for eighth place on the leaderboard at 4-under par on the day. His second-round score of 68 is a new personal best. His previous best was 73 at the Gopher Invitational, which he matched in the first round on Saturday.
- Tighe is 1-under on par threes, which ties for second best in the field.
The Hawkeye Invitational concludes on Sunday with an 8:30 a.m. (CT) shotgun start at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa.