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Iowa to host Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational

BY KYLE MANN | APRIL 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s golf team will host its lone home tournament this weekend, as teams from around the region are scheduled to descend upon Iowa City for the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational.

The Hawkeyes hope to be in a position to be playing smart, with a lead, on Alpril 19. The first 36-holes will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Finkbine.

The Hawkeyes have been out of action for what will be two weeks by the time they tee off on Saturday, but they feel good on the practice green as they prepare for the final stretch of their season. After hosting this weekend, the Hawkeyes move to the Big Ten Championships next week and on to the NCAA regionals to finish in May.

As such, it is imperative that Iowa uses this tournament as an opportunity to play its best.

“We feel very fortunate to be able to host a great event in the spring,” head coach Tyler Stith said. “There’s a huge advantage being able to host on your own golf course, playing somewhere you get to practice and play at every single day. I know the guys are really looking forward to this week. We’ve got a really nice, diverse field of some really strong teams coming in.”

Iowa will host Denver, DePaul, Idaho, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Marquette, Minnesota, Nebraska, Washington State, and Wichita State. The Hawkeyes won its 14th title in the event last season, and they will try to add to that in the tournament’s 22nd year.

Seniors Brian Bullington and Ian Vandersee will be the veterans in Iowa’s lineup this weekend, and in addition to junior Nate Yankovich, will rely heavily upon talented sophomores Raymond Knoll and Carson Schaake.

Knoll and Schaake have followed strong freshman seasons by taking the next step and becoming two of the better and most consistent performers on the team.

“I think it’s just the belief,” Bullington said. “It’s really cool to see. They’re both really great players, and the confidence, belief, and their work ethic, when you combine those, it’s difficult to not play well.”

Knoll agrees that his confidence has spiked this season, and he believes that an extra year to get a feel for how things work has done wonders for his comfort level on the course and, consequently, his game.

“Last year, I was a little uncomfortable almost in every single tournament just because I was a freshman,” he said. “Now that I’m a sophomore, I have some experience, and I’m a little more comfortable playing all these courses, so bringing that comfort level to the tournaments helps me.”

Still, Knoll and the rest of the team always have something they can improve.

“My putting has always been something that kind of bothered me,” Knoll said. “I hit the ball pretty well, I’ve always given myself a lot of good opportunities to make birdies, but I feel like I’ve left a lot of shots out there missing puts.”

While Knoll will try to shore up his short game, Stith would like to see the Hawks improve their decision-making as they approach the green.

“Right now, what we’re working on most as a group is our decision-making on the course,” he said. “The guys have no problem executing shots, but sometimes we can get caught up in a round and get ahead of ourselves. They need to understand the times when to go for it and when to back off.”


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