SILVIS, Illinois — Former University of Iowa men’s golfer Alex Schaake said he wasn’t nervous as he hit his first PGA TOUR shot of his career Thursday morning in the first round of the John Deere Classic.
“I think I was prepared,” said Schaake. “I have been out here all week with these guys, practicing next to them on the driving range, and playing practice rounds with them. It feels normal. But to be out here and to be with the big boys, it is something that I have always dreamed of.”
Schaake posted a 1-over par 73 on the day, recording four birdies, including a stretch of three in four holes on the back nine. He sank a 15-footer from just off the 15th green, a six-footer on hole 14, and a 34-foot putt on 17 that sent a roar throughout the par-72 TPC Deere Run.
Schaake had a number of family and friends, as well as Hawkeye fans, were in attendance to support him on Thursday.
“My entire family is out here,” Schaake said. “I had to buy a lot of tickets for them and I’m glad they are all here. I heard “Go Hawks” a lot today. The support has been amazing.”
Alex joins his brother Carson, who competed in the 2015 tournament, as one of the very few brothers tandem to have competed in the 50 years of the John Deere Classic. Alex, who is on the Forme Tour this summer, is appreciative of this opportunity while also gaining experience of playing in a professional event.
“Any experience that I can get from these guys out here will help because I play on courses that you have to shoot really good scores,” said Schaake. “The guys out here shoot really good scores and seeing how they do that and how they handle themselves on the golf course when adversity hits, is something I have been paying attention to a lot this week.”
PGA veteran Zach Johnson, who received a sponsor exemption like Schaake 19 years ag0, agreed that he will learn a lot from this experience.
“I think my experience in 2002, is something that I can always dwell on and will continue to learn from,” Johnson said. “If he can remain positive with whatever his outcome is, he is going to learn a lot.”
Schaake’s driving distance on Thursday averaged 306 yards, including bombing a 364-yard drive on the 15th hole that led to his third birdie of the day. He also had a success on the greens, making 89-feet of putts in his opening round.
“I felt like I got off to a good start and I am happy how I finished,” said Schaake. “You need to keep it under par out here and that is the plan for tomorrow.”
Schaake will tee off at 2:11 p.m. (CT) on the 10th tee in Friday’s second round of the John Deere Classic.