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Checking up on the Iowa men’s golfers

BY NICK VITTORE | OCTOBER 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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After two third-places finishes to start the season, the Iowa men’s golfers are satisfied with their play, but they admit there is room for improvement.

The Hawkeyes finished tied for third in a 12-team field at the three-day Golfweek Conference Challenge on Sept. 16 in Burlington. Sophomore Carson Schaake tied for fifth, the leading Hawkeye.

The top-two finishers were LSU and Southern Methodist. In total, four Hawkeyes finished in the top 20 in that tournament.

On Sept. 22, the two-day Windon Memorial Classic came to a close in Evanston, Illinois, with Iowa finishing tied for third among 15 teams. That tournament included Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Repeat low Hawkeye Schaake tied for fourth, and three Hawkeyes finished in the top 20.

Third-place finishes are not too shabby, but they aren’t where the Hawkeyes want to be.

“We just need to minimize mistakes,” junior Nate Yankovich said. “When we have struggled, we have struggled as a team.”

For senior Brian Bullington, the biggest thing is keeping steady through the rough patches Yankovich described.

“I just think we need to remain patient,” he said. “I think our goal is to be atop the leaderboard [at the Rod Meyers Invitational, beginning Saturday.] If we start with that goal in mind, we can really focus on playing strong.”

The Hawkeyes kept their composure through the ups and downs of the first two tournaments, which made a significant difference on the leaderboard. In both tournaments, they improved from the second round to the third. The team improved from 285 to 281 in Evanston and made a whopping 14-stroke improvement in Burlington from 301 to 287.

“We’ve done a nice job of believing,” Bullington said. “Each guy has rebounded from poor days.”

As the players continue to adjust under first-year head coach Tyler Stith, Schaake praised his ability to bring the team together.

“The overall chemistry of the team this year seems a little different this year compared to last year,” Schaake said. “Coach Stith wants us to be a family and not just a collective golf team. The eight kids on the team, including me, really feel comfortable with each other. Coach Stith really wants to make it a brotherhood and help us relate to each other personally beyond just golf.”

When the Hawkeyes return to action this weekend, Yankovich wants the team to continue to build on previous tournaments and make in-round adjustments.

“We’ve managed our emotions well on the golf course, and we have been ambitious,” Yankovich said. “Even after a strong start to the season, none of us are satisfied. We want more, and that’s a positive of our team.”

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


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