Q&A: Ihm talks PGA Tour début and more

BY DANNY PAYNE | JULY 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Former Iowa golfer Steven Ihm will make his professional and PGA Tour début Thursday in Silvis, Illinois, when he tees off at the John Deere Classic. Ihm played in the event last year, missing the cut after rounds of 71 and 69.

Iowa sophomore Raymond Knoll will play as well. Ihm will tee off at 2:15 p.m. on No. 1, and Knoll will begin at the same time on No. 10.

The Daily Iowan: How is preparation for the tournament going?

Ihm: Not too bad, just chilling, getting the camper set up for the Deere this week and whatnot.

DI: The camper?

Ihm: Yeah, I’m staying in my sister’s camper. They have a parking lot behind the No. 2 green that is basically only players, so you can decide to rent a spot or whatnot. We rented a spot, so I’ll be right here all week.

DI: So you’re literally staying right on the course? That’s awesome.

Ihm: Pretty much right behind No. 2, so it’s pretty nice. It’s a pretty good deal.

DI: How are you feeling after playing in the tournament last year. Nervous? Excited?

Ihm: I’m pretty excited, honestly. The whole summer has been building up to this tournament and the pro début, so I’m pretty excited to get out there and play on Thursday and Friday.

DI: What have you been doing in preparation so far?

Ihm: I played amateur for June — I played the Sunnehanna (in Johnstown, Pennsylvania), and then I played the Northeast (in Rumford, Rhode Island). I played well at Sunnehanna, I finished sixth. I played all right at the Northeast, not too well; I barely made the cut.

DI: Obviously, it’s a bigger deal this year, making your pro début, but how much does playing at TPC Deere Run in the past help you this time around?

Ihm: Last year helped out a lot. Last year I had a great experience down here, and this year it’s just fine-tuning all of the little things. You don’t get as distracted this year, but you just get to enjoy the atmosphere and make a few more putts.

DI: You played a practice round with Zach Johnson last year; what do you think it will be like to play against him and other guys that you watch on TV every weekend?

Ihm: It’s fun — this is the top level, this is where everyone wants to be. It’s one of those things, you just really have to relish the opportunity and enjoy the challenge of it.

DI: This is such an Iowa-heavy event; was it because of that or the timing of this event that you chose to make your début?

Ihm: It just worked out perfectly this way. I tried Monday-in for another tournament before this, so that would’ve been my pro début, but this would’ve still been my PGA Tour début as a pro, but it just kind of worked out perfectly. It fell into place.

Like I said, I had those two amateur tournaments I was going to play in, and I felt like those were pretty good fields, and those would get my game in the shape that I wanted it to play in the Deere, and it kind of worked out perfectly that way.

DI: Raymond Knoll qualified for the tournament Monday; what are your thoughts on that?

Ihm: Ray’s awesome; I could not be happier for him. He’s been playing this summer and working hard, just like everyone, but he’s just pretty good. I mean, it’s hard to put it any other way — he just has a way he goes about things, and he played great in the spring for us, he was one of our solid contributors, and I was super pleased with the way he developed.

He’s getting better every year, and I’m sure he’s going to be one of the great Iowa golfers by the end of his career there.

My brother actually showed me the scores and asked, “What do you think Ray shot today?”

I said, “I don’t know — 54?”

He said, “No, 55.”

“Did he make it? I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s awesome.’ ”

I actually played with him [Sunday night], we came out and played here at the Deere and practiced and whatnot, and I told him, “Just make it, and we can come out and play together for our practice round.”

It’s so cool, I couldn’t be happier for the kid; he’s funny, he’s good stuff.

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