Iowa men's golfers head west for tournament

BY KEVIN GLUECK | MARCH 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s golf team is doing something that it hasn’t done all year — heading west to play in California.

The Hawkeyes have had a month off from competition to begin the second half of their spring season today in Palo Alto, Calif., for the U.S. Intercollegiate, hosted by Stanford. It’s the first time in school history Iowa golf has visited the Cardinal.

“We’re going to try to adapt to this golf course. We’ve played six or seven straight days of golf last week, so our golfing is in pretty good shape,” Iowa head golf coach Mark Hankins said. “Now, it’s a matter of adapting to a new golf course, new green speeds, and then trying to get the best out of it.”

Hankins noted that the Stanford Golf Course, which has held U.S. Open qualifying and NCAA championships, would be a little softer than the course they played while in Arizona over spring break, where the grass is a little drier.

Sophomore Joseph Winslow said the conditions of greens in California match up with his strong suits better than those of other states.

“I really like playing out in California; I think it fits my game pretty well,” he said. “I like the grasses out there. It’s a little heavier wind. I just like the way the courses set up for my game.”

The field is set to be a tough test for Iowa — the tournament features 10 top-50 players and seven top-50 teams according to the Golfstat rankings. No. 1 California headlines the teams in the event, followed by two other Pac-12 teams in the top 10, No. 7 USC and No. 9 Stanford.

“We try to play all over the country. When it comes down to the end, at NCAA regionals and finals, we’re not intimidated by anyone because we’ve seen everyone,” Hankins said. “We have a highly ranked schedule. What that allows us to do is see a lot of different golf teams from across the country.”

Freshman Nate Yankovich will make his first appearance of his career in the varsity lineup in California for the Hawkeyes, and he is embracing his shot to make a splash for the team.

“My confidence is pretty good right now. I played pretty well at the Big Ten Match Play and played pretty much to my expectations at the Big Four [Championships], placing second and winning all my matches,” he said. “This is my first real event with the team so I’m pretty excited.”

The Ohio native also said he is confident that he can play well against some top-flight competition.

“I played against some of these guys when I was a junior [in high school]. I love the competition,” he said. “I’m going to try to just stay within myself and not get sucked up in the moment playing with these big West Coast teams and focus on my own game.”

Hankins wants to keep the momentum of the squad built up from its last outing, the Big Four Championships victory in the first half of the season in mid-February.

“We’re trying to do our best,” he said. “I’d say out of those 16 teams [in addition to Iowa], if we finish in the top six or seven as our first real tournament out, I think we’ll have done a pretty good job and move forward from there.”

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