Hankins, golfers ready for regionals


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Daily Iowan: You recently just qualified for you sixth-straight NCAA regional tournament. Considering you are familiar with the position you’re in, is the team where you want it to be right now?

Hawkeye men’s golf coach Mark Hankins: We’re taking a team this year with a little bit more experience at the regional level, and then we have two freshmen who are kind of new to the process. We’re excited to get to compete at the NCAAs. I feel like this team is continuing to get used to each other. This is only are third or fourth tournament now I think where we will be playing the same lineup. As they are getting more comfortable with each other, we will continue to be successful. Our spring has given confidence but this time of year you have to play three good rounds of golf or you go home. 

DI: Last year, you played your regional in Tallahassee, Fla. This year, you’ll travel to Missouri. Any advantage there? Do the courses play differently?

Hankins: Anytime you play closer to home, you have similar weather and play on similar golf courses. There is just a natural feel to playing close to home. 

It’s a place that is going to have a Midwest feel to it, and it’s only a four-hour drive. We’re looking forward to being a little closer to home and not having to travel the entire day, which is nice. 

DI: This will be senior Steven Ihm’s final NCAA Tournament. What kind of leadership has he provided this team?

Hankins: Leadership comes in the form of golf scores on this team. You lead by taking care of yourself and making sure you are competitive. For Steven, it’s a higher level; he expects to finish in the top-10 every week that he goes out and plays. He’s been trying to win tournaments down the stretch this spring in places he is familiar with. 

Everyone can learn from that. The freshmen can learn from that. The juniors below him can learn from that. He’s a “do as I do” type of guy.

DI: In 2011, you finished in 10th, the highest position in program history. What is the goal this year? What is considered a success?

Hankins: The goal is to get into match play. That’s top eight. It would be a big accomplishment, because once you go into match play, it’s strictly team-on-team. We missed by a shot or two a couple of years ago. 

It’s really a combination of things. It’s about having a team that is playing good golf. Having some guys that can manage their schoolwork and NCAA regionals. I’m putting the best plan in place to make sure we’re successful. All of us, working together and holding each other accountable, will result in top finishes. There is no reason to take a step backwards or to do anything different. We have to go play a good tournament at regionals. I would tell them a top-five finish is a good finish, and that’s what our goal is anyway, to finish in the top five. That will get us into nationals.

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