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Hawkeyes set for North Carolina

BY NICK VITTORE | OCTOBER 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa Hawkeyes men’s golf team plays in the Rod Myers Invitational from Saturday through Oct. 12 at Durham, North Carolina. As the competition heats up and temperature drops, the Hawkeyes seek what would be their first Rod Myers title since 2010. Despite a ninth-place finish in last season’s tournament, the Hawkeyes will carry valuable experience into this edition.

The tournament is hosted by Duke and played at the school golf club. It is named after former Duke golf coach Rod Myers, who coached Duke to seven NCAA championship appearances in 34 seasons and passed away during in 2007 due to leukemia.

The field for 2014 has yet to be finalized. In descending order on the leaderboard, last year’s tournament featured Northwestern, Baylor, Duke, Liberty, North Carolina, Charlotte, East Carolina, Ohio State, Iowa, Pacific, and Tulsa.

Northwestern registered a 854 (minus-10) to win by 3 strokes over Baylor. Former Wildcat golfer Jack Perry split the individual crown with former teammate and current professional Matt Fitzpatrick; both shot 207 (minus-9).

Iowa finished at 883 (plus-19) as a team. Ian Vandersee was the low Hawkeye and finished tied for 22nd with a 220. The Hawks never really recovered from an opening round 300, following up with scores of 290 and 293.       

In 2010, the Hawkeyes won the Myers Invitational by 5 strokes over North Carolina, posting 851 (-13). Then-No. 13 Iowa was led by Brad Hopfinger and Vince India, who shot 212 (minus-4) and 213 respectively.

Current head coach Tyler Stith was an assistant coach for that tournament.

“We had a very strong team that year that was led by a couple of upperclassmen,” he said. “We had a couple of guys who had experience on that golf ,course so we went to Duke in 2010 with five guys who were committed and playing very well.”

Former Iowa coach Mark Hankins also recalled the victory.  

“There was a lot of momentum,” he said. “It was our third win in a row. We had a great team that year and finished ninth in the country. We had a lot of confidence and the topography of the course fit our team well.”

The Duke University Golf Club course features zoysia grass, which is known for its cushiony feel, tolerance to extreme weather conditions, and ability to repair itself as it grows. The ball sits more on zoysia compared with other surfaces.

The par-72 course is 7,154 yards in length, the second longest course the team will have played thus far. Iowa played on a 7,301-yard course at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and a 6,793 yard course at the Windon Memorial.

Iowa graduate Steven Ihm remembers like the course.

“The green complexes are pretty good,” he said. “They just switched over grasses this year, so the greens will be a little softer. It’s a really good course with some good par 3s there.”

Raymond Knoll only played this course prior to college and is making his Myers Invitational début. With new greens, Knoll is expecting the course to be quite different.

“I think the two biggest differences about the new greens are that the surface will be a lot firmer and it will be more difficult to keep the ball in the green because they are not fully grown in yet,” he said.

Teammate and participant Brian Bullington expects the same thing. “The toughest parts are the sloped greens and keeping it in play off of the tee,” he said.

Regardless, Stith has faith in the Black and Gold.

“We go down to every tournament with the mindset that we’re going to compete and we’re going to win,” he said. “I would say if we get to the final round with a chance to win, it will put ourselves in contention and it will be a successful week.”

“We will focus on things that we can control and try to get ourselves into contention on the final day.”


Iowa men’s golf at Rod Meyers Invitational
When Saturday and Oct. 12
Where Durahm, North Carolina

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


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