Schaake, Knoll drive Hawk golf

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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Golf is a game perceived mostly as an individual sport, but that’s not entirely so at the college level. It takes a deep and consistent lineup to win and a core of great golfers to anchor a successful team.

For Iowa, a pair of 2015 first team All-Big Ten honorees in Ray Knoll and Carson Schaake looks like that center.

“I think it gives everyone confidence when you have two guys in your lineup that have proven that they can win golf tournaments and compete on a national stage,” head coach Tyler Stith said.

Both golfers are entering their junior years, just halfway through their careers as Hawkeyes. And both have had busy starts to the summer as well.

Schaake competed in the John Deere Classic, his first PGA event, on July 9-10, compiling a two-day score of 7-under against the likes of Jordan Spieth.

In April, he won the individual Big Ten championship, posting a 4-under to tie with Illinois’ Nick Hardy for best in the conference.

“Carson, No. 1, works extremely hard,” Stith said. “He is not only a really talented individual, but he’s extremely committed. He’s very competitive, and he has big goals for himself.”

Knoll, who competed in the Deere Classic in 2014, made a bit of history last week at the Illinois State Amateur Championship. The Naperville, Illinois, native shot an 8-under 63 in the final round, the best completive round ever at Panther Creek Country Club — which included a double eagle on the par-5 15th hole.

“I’ve never shot 63 in a competitive round,” Knoll said in a release. “I’m definitely able to look at this, take a lot of positives from it, and know that I played well at the end of the week. I’m definitely proud of how I played, and I’m looking to ride that the rest of the summer.”

Schaake has seen the mentality Knoll brings to the team since the two roomed together during their freshman year.

“Ray loves to win,” he said. “And I love that about him.”

As a group, the Hawkeyes finished second at the Big Tens and sixth out of 14 teams at the Yale NCAA Regional. Their 54-hole score of 850 came up 1 stroke short of fifth-place LSU, and the top five teams went on to play in the NCAA Championships.

To supplement its two standouts, the team also brings back seniors Nate Yankovich and Voramate Aussarassakorn, as well as sophomores Jack Holmgren and Sam Meuret and a talented incoming freshman class.

But Schaake and Knoll will anchor the group, and they still have two seasons left to leave a mark with the Hawkeyes.

“We can play with the best in the country, and it’s cool to know that,” Schaake said. “Some teams, they go into events knowing maybe the best they can get is fifth, and they’re trying to shoot for that fifth spot, and we’re just not going to do that.”

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