Iowa men's golf heads to NCAA regionals

BY KEVIN GLUECK | MAY 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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It’s crunch time for the Iowa men’s golf team.

The squad has been playing well, coming off of three-straight top-three finishes in its most recent tournaments, including a win — but none of that will matter when the Hawkeyes compete in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional today.

“We’re definitely going in with a good mood and good mindset,” junior Steven Ihm said. “You got to finish in the top five. It’s top five, or you’re done for the year.”

Men’s golf coach Mark Hankins said that despite the team playing well in tournaments leading up to NCAA postseason play, it should be put behind them.

“I think it all changes now. We haven’t had much of an opportunity to practice as much these past couple weeks,” Hankins said. “These guys have to trust to do their thing to prepare themselves and trust me to get everything lined up in order for us to play well.”

The field that awaits the Black and Gold is a stacked one — of the 13 teams in the field, 12 are ranked in the top 70 in the country. Iowa, which sits at No. 54, according to Golfstat.com, is only the eighth-highest ranked team in the field, behind the likes of No. 4 Georgia Tech, No. 7 Florida State, and three other teams in the top 30.

And with only the top five finishers qualifying for the NCAA championships in Atlanta on May 28, the Hawkeyes have an uphill battle.

“As a 10 seed, we’re definitely aren’t favored to go on,” Hankins said. “We take what we can get. We didn’t really care where we were going. Tallahassee is as good as any other place, and we’ll enjoy our time there.

This is one of Hankin’s least-experienced teams heading into his fifth trip to regionals since taking over the program six years ago, with Nate Yankovich and Brian Bullington only having one year of true experience in the lineup. But that isn’t worrying Hankins.

“It’s just a matter of if we can prepare ourselves to be ready to play. Hopefully, we’ll prepared mentally when we get down there,” Hankins said. “If we play our best golf, we’ll be fine. We can’t worry about what other teams are going to shoot.”

All-Big Ten sophomore Joseph Winslow is confident in the team’s ability to match or even beat some of the better talent in the field.

“I think we’re a really talented team, and all of us are playing good golf at the right time right now,” he said. “If we put up five good scores each round this week, we can compete with anybody.”

However, it’s not about what the team has done but a matter of execution this weekend.

“It’s a matter of going out there and playing it one shot at a time for each one of us and sticking to what we know we can be best individually,” Winslow said. “The combination of that will produce the best team result.”

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