Match play excites Hawks


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At the end of the spring golf season, the NCAA finals will use a stroke play to match play format to determine the national champion. Members of the Iowa women’s golf team said last weekend’s tournament gave a taste of what the championship would be like, should it advance that far.

The Hawkeyes competed Sept. 20 through Monday in the East & West Match Play Challenge. The tournament used a format of two rounds of stroke play, followed by two rounds of match play.

“I definitely think this weekend helped prepare us for what the NCAA finals would be like,” junior Amy Ihm said. “Match play is different in a lot of ways from the rules to the way you mentally have to address the game. Practicing this format is crucial if you want to succeed at it.”

Sophomore Jessie Sindlinger had similar thoughts about the tournament, saying that the tournament helped the team learn more about match play and how it works.

The stroke play and match play combination was an exciting change from sole stroke play for the Hawkeyes. Head coach Megan Menzel believes the different format was a refreshing change of pace.

“It’s nice to not have to add up your score,” she said. “Players can get a little beat up by stroke play sometimes, so it’s nice to have a change of format.”

Both Sindlinger and Ihm noted that match play seemed to bring out their competitive sides more than stroke play.

“I hadn’t played very much match play before this tournament, but I liked it,” Sindlinger said. “It’s a little different strategy than stroke play. You can be more aggressive and don’t get penalized as much as stroke play. If you have a bad hole in match play, you’re only down one instead of multiple strokes.”

In match play, golfers are paired with an opponent to compete against. If a golfer has won one more hole than her opponent, she is 1-up. If she has won two more, she is 2-up, and so on. The competition could end as early as the 10th hole if a golfer has beaten her opponent on every hole, because the other would no longer be able to take a lead by the time the two finish 18 holes.

Rather than tallying a score, this format allows golfers more freedom to take risky shots in order to gain advantages.

“They’re able to have the perspective to go, ‘OK, next hole. This is a new opportunity to try to win this hole,’ ” Menzel said.

Even though the Hawkeyes finished eighth in Ann Arbor, both Sindlinger and Ihm believe they did better than what the results showed.

“Although we didn’t get the results we wanted this weekend, my team and I certainly learned a lot about our games individually and how we as a team should mentally access a future match-play event,” Ihm said. “We’ll take what we learned and apply it to practices and continue to work hard, moving onward and upward.”

Menzel had a similar opinion, and she drew positives from the two losses.

“I just think it was completely new to us, and it was a good opportunity for us to see the format,” she said.

Follow @cbomb12 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s golf team.

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