Hawkeyes set for Big Ten Tournament

BY DANNY PAYNE | APRIL 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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Arguably Iowa’s best golfer this season, freshman Jessie Sindlinger admitted she has had a bit of nervousness running through her veins as she preps for the Big Ten women’s golf tourney, scheduled to begin today.

Sindlinger is coming off a 19-over-par finish at Iowa’s last event, the Buckeye Invitational. Iowa finished eighth in the 12-team field.

If anything, the nerves are warranted. The Charles City native said the tournament, which is set to be held in French Lick, Ind., is going to be the biggest event she has ever played in.

“A little bit,” Sindlinger said about her expected nervousness. “I’ll be excited and just try to play off of the nerves.”

That boost from the nerves certainly wouldn’t hurt Iowa. The Hawkeyes haven’t had an easy go of it this spring. Percentage-wise, head coach Megan Menzel’s squad’s best finish came at the BYU Entrada Classic in mid-March. Iowa finished 10th in a 16-team pool in that event.

Junior Shelby Phillips is one golfer who could help turn the Hawkeyes around. Phillips was Iowa’s top finisher in its first three events this spring, but she has since failed to achieve that task since the BYU tournament. She finished tied for 44th with a three-round total of 238 (22 over).

Phillips said her confidence isn’t at an all-time high after the way she finished the regular season, and it might be harder to improve that level because of the added pressure of the conference tournament.

“It does [make it harder to be confident],” Phillips said. “I’ve had a pretty good season, so I have to keep looking back at that and being like, ‘I can do it and I believe in myself.’

“… I wish I had a little more confidence coming off this last week, but that’s just kind of how it is but this is just how you gain your confidence and figure out who you are as a golfer.”

While Phillips said she’s trying to improve her long-game, some other fellow Hawkeyes, including sophomore Amy Ihm, said the short game is on the list of things to improve upon. The Peosta, Iowa, native said she’s put a large focus on putting in the build-up to the tournament.

But with short game, confidence, and nerves to deal with, Menzel said the biggest thing her team has to do is put together a complete performance. She said her team has had part of the team perform well on a certain day when another part does not. For Menzel, the key is finding that balance.

“I think it’s sticking to the basics,” the third-year head coach said. “It’s just going to take patience and be positive around this golf course and trust in their abilities.”

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