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Ihm leads men's golf to fourth-place finish at Golfweek Conference Challenge

BY TOMMY REINKING | SEPTEMBER 19, 2012 6:30 AM

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A 7-under three-round total by junior Steven Ihm led the Iowa men’s golf team to a fourth-place finish among the 15 teams in the Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington.

The host team finished with a combined score of 13 over and flew past Ball State and Arkansas on the final day of play.

Ihm’s performace placed him tied for second behind Jace Long of Missouri, who finished 2 strokes ahead of him. He also tied for most birdies in the event.

“It was a really fun tournament,” Ihm said. “I’m definitely happy with finishing in second. Hopefully, I can get that elusive first-place finish some time this season.”

Ihm was tied for first place after the first day of the tournament with a score of 4 under. He dropped to third place after a 1 under second round but jumped back up to second with a final round score of 2 under.

“You could tell he felt really comfortable on a course he’s played a few rounds on,” Hawkeye coach Mark Hankins said. “He was really focused and made a lot of birdies. There were a few bogeys, but he got past them and turned it around.”

Ihm wasn’t the only Hawkeye finish strong. After a 10th-place finish at the Golden Gopher Invitational on Sept. 10, Hankins was pleased with the progress the team made in such short time.
“After a shaky start [to the season], this is an indicator of how we’ve improved,” he said. “I was hoping for a top-five finish, and that’s what we got. We had a lot of different guys contributing throughout the tournament. It was one more week of growing together as a team.”

The Black and Gold shot a first round 4 over, followed it up with a 3 over second round, and clubbed a 6 over in the final round. Iowa finished behind Missouri (7 under), Wake Forest (1 over), and Tulsa (3 over).

Joseph Winslow impressed observers in his first tournament of the season. After hitting 4 over in the first round, the sophomore bounced back with a 1 under second round. Winslow continued to play well in the final round, shooting 1 over.

“It was a good first tournament back for me,” Winslow said in a release. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in a competitive environment like this, so I was happy to get back in action and finish with a decent score. At the same time, I know I can do a little bit better, too.”

Ryan Marks was another Hawkeye who improved as play went on. After a first-round 5 over, the junior finished the tournament with a 1 over second round and 3 over final round.

After stroking a two-round total of 6 over, sophomore Brian Bullington appeared to have the course figured out after the first nine holes in round 3. He was 1 under but then bogeyed five of the final nine holes to end the day at 1 over.

Iowa will have plenty of time to practice before its next tournament. The Black and Gold won’t face competition again until the Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club on Oct. 13-14. Hankins said the Hawks’ short game is one aspect that could be improved, but he has faith in the team.

“We keep track of all our shots within 100 yards,” he said. “Our chipping and putting could use a little bit of work. The greens were perfect, and putting is the No. 1 place to pick up strokes. Hopefully, the overall confidence from this tournament will carry over to our next one.”


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