Ihm, Hawkeye golfers give strong showing at Hawkeye-GRE Invitational

BY KEVIN GLUECK | APRIL 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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While most eyes on the golf world were fixed on Augusta National during Sunday’s last round of the Masters, an exciting, down-to-the-wire finish took place in Iowa City’s golf community.

The Hawkeyes began the day 8 strokes behind Kansas, which led the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational after 36 holes with a team score of 576 (even). Despite being down 12 strokes at one point early in the morning, the Black and Gold shot up the leaderboard, shrinking the Jayhawk lead as the day went on.

The Hawkeyes wittled the lead down to just 2 strokes in the final few holes, but fell just short; Steven Ihm couldn’t make up the last stroke on the 18th green, and he and Kansas golfer Stan Gautier both carded a par to finish in front of the crowd gathered around the final green. The Jayhawks won the team tournament by a single stroke over Iowa, carding an overall score of 867 (plus-3).

“I thought we were in it all day as far as competitive mindset,” Iowa head coach Mark Hankins said. “We threw out a 74, that’s a pretty good day. We can’t ask for much more from our guys.”

While Ihm’s final putt didn’t clinch a share of the team title, it clinched something else — a share of the individual title.

Ihm was the only player to shoot under par all three rounds of the invitational, en route to a three-round score of 211, good enough for 5-under. Kansas senior Chris Gilbert also carded 211.

Ihm said he thinks the bad weather this week actually helped him.

“We were able to get out and play nine holes each day, and that was definitely helpful coming into Saturday,” Ihm said. “It was brutally cold in the morning, and it was also windy. So, I was happy with my preparation and definitely happy with my result.”

Hankins was proud of the Peosta, Iowa, native and how he held up against a tough field.

“It’s always unbelievable to win a college golf tournament, Division I, against a national field,” Hankins said. “I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Sophomore Joseph Winslow started the tournament with an 82, but by the end of the weekend, he carded a round-low 69 on Sunday.

“I made some mistakes in my first round,” Winslow said. “The key thing is, when you’re a great player like a lot of us are out here, you just have to remember and believe in yourself and trust yourself.”

Hankins made a key coaching move to get Winslow back on track — he walked with him the entire second round.

“We just talked about shots and focused on what we’re supposed to focus on. Sure enough, he shot a 72,” Hankins said. “He came out today a bit more comfortable and confident.”

What’s big for Hankins this week though, is the confidence the Hawkeyes gained and the message that his squad sent to the other five Big Ten teams in the field as the Big Ten championships near.

“We separated ourselves from a lot of teams. We beat some teams by 20, 30 and 40 shots,” he said. “That gives confidence. Whether you win or not, that’s up to the other team sometimes. That gives us confidence and gets our competitive feet under us and helps us move forward.”

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