Men's golf set for regional

BY KYLE MANN | MAY 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s golf team was in high spirits at practice on Tuesday as it prepared to hit the road to Columbia, Mo., to compete in the NCAA regional beginning today.

The Hawkeyes will try to continue playing well and advance to the NCAA championships. Since the beginning of March, they have captured titles from the Big Four Championship in Scottsdale, the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational, and the Boilermaker Invitational at Purdue.

They also finished second at the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational, and their lowest finish was only third at the Big Ten championships on May 4.

“Arizona State’s tournament is a pretty high-level tournament,” head coach Mark Hankins said. “We did well there, and that gave us the confidence to get to that next level.”

The Hawkeyes have maintained that confidence down the home stretch of the season, and they will use it to their advantage in Columbia.

At a course on which none of the players have much, if any, familiarity, the Hawkeyes’ confidence in their abilities will be essential. The team is entering the tournament with the mindset that if each player focuses on himself, the team will get the desired  result.

“If you go out and prepare yourself to accomplish your goal, whether it’s a top-20 or top-5 finish, then you don’t have to worry about things you can’t control, like your teammates,” Hankins said.
Coming off his best 72-hole score of the season, junior Ian Vandersee echoed Hankins.

“This year, I’ve taken a lot of focus on controlling what I can control and staying true to myself,” he said. “It was nice to play well at a course I wouldn’t call my favorite and still get a good score.”

Vandersee will be joined by junior Brian Bullington and freshmen Carson Schaake and Raymond Knoll in the starting lineup. The driving force for the Hawkeyes, however, is undeniably the three-time All-Big Ten senior Steven Ihm.

Ihm is on pace to finish with the second lowest scoring average in Iowa history at 71.35, and he wants to make a splash this week after finishing fifth at the Big Ten championships and being named to the All-Tournament team.

As the senior leader this season, Ihm says he’s tried to lead by example by playing well, but also he acknowledges that he often is looked on “to be the one who knows what’s going on.”

For that, Ihm offers some advice about playing on a new course that he had to learn by experience.

“You’ve got to put in a good practice round and have a good strategy for the course,” he said. “That was something I personally didn’t do that good of a job with last year in Tallahassee; there were a lot of doglegs to it, and I didn’t know what I could hit off the tee.”

Luckily, Hankins doesn’t think the course will cause too much trouble.

“It’s a very Midwest course,” he said. “It won’t be anything we haven’t seen before.”

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