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Men's golf seeded second for Big Ten Championships

BY KYLE MANN | APRIL 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s golf team will be back in action this weekend, playing competitively on two-consecutive weekends for the first time since February, as the team heads to Newburgh, Indiana, for the Big Ten Championships.

Iowa will take the course as the No. 2 seed, behind fourth-ranked Illinois at the top. The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 45 in the nation.

“Illinois has won four out of the last five Big Ten championships,” head coach Tyler Stith said. “They’re the highest ranked team in the Big Ten and had a really good year, but we feel like we can compete with anyone. We’re going over there with the mindset that we’re trying to get in that last group.”

Despite the gap between Iowa and Illinois, the Hawkeyes should expect to be near the top of the leaderboard for much of the weekend. They finished third hosting the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational last weekend, with several performers shooting under par. Perhaps the most encouraging finish, however, was that of sophomore Raymond Knoll.

All five Iowa golfers finished in the top 25 individually — but Knoll, who has been one of the more consistent golfers on Iowa’s squad this season — held up the tail end in 23rd at 3-over. The Hawkeyes will likely benefit from a more impressive card from the sophomore, who is feeling good leading into the tournament.

“I feel pretty good right now; my swing feels like it’s in a good spot, and I’m putting the ball well, so my short game feels pretty good,” he said.  “All my teammates are playing well too, so that adds a little bit of confidence that you need going into a tournament, so I’m excited.”

Looking to quickly move on from the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment, Knoll’s goal is to control the things he can control.

“When it comes to these bigger tournaments, you just have to play the course rather than playing other people,” Knoll said. “If you focus on your own game and shoot a good number, then that’s all you can do. It’s not like there’s a defense or anything.”

The closest thing to a defense would be the weather, which forecasts to be potentially up and down. Friday and April 26, according to the Weather Channel, will be near the mid-60s with a chance of clouds, while Saturday will be in the 70s with an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms and strong winds.

Weather aside, the team is preparing for a new experience; this will be the first time several of the players will play at Victoria National Golf Course.

“Since it moved from French Lick last year to Victoria, it’ll be a new trip for all of us,” sophomore Carson Schaake said.

Schaake was the leading Hawkeye performer last weekend, and he, like Knoll, says he feels at the top of his game.

“Right now, my swing feels great, I’m hitting the ball solid, and everything’s coming around at the right time going into Big Tens.”

Play is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Friday.

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


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