Feb. 6, 2013
The University of Iowa men's golf team opens the 2013 spring season with the Big Ten Match Play Championships on Friday. In its fifth year running, the two-day event will be held at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. The first and second rounds begin Friday, while the semifinals and finals will be on Saturday. Iowa earned a three-seed and first round bye, and will meet either Purdue or Nebraska in the quarterfinals. Live results are available at http://www.ajga.org/big10mpc. The event will be televised by Big Ten Network on tape delay on a date to be determined.
The Big Ten Match Play Championships has traditionally been the league's spring opener since its inception in 2009. The event will have its format slightly tweaked this season, as the coaches will travel six players and choose a five-player lineup for each match.
Seedings for the 12-team field will be based on each team's national rankings on golfstat.com. In order of their respective seeds, the Big Ten Match Play will feature Illinois (17) Northwestern (27) Iowa (47), Indiana (48), Ohio State (68), Purdue (78), Michigan State (81), Minnesota (114), Michigan (128), Nebraska (154), Wisconsin (160) and Penn State (169). Two Big Ten teams finished the fall season ranked or receiving votes in the Golf World/NIKE Golf Coaches' Poll, while four teams are currently ranked in the top-55 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. Northwestern won the event last season.
The field consists of 11 players ranked in the top-150 of the Golfweek/Sagarin individual rankings, including Illinois' defending NCAA champion Thomas Pieters. Iowa's Steven Ihm is one of 11 ranked players in the field, checking in at No. 96.
Named to "The Top 100 Courses in the US in 2009" by Golf Magazine, The Concession was designed by Jack Nicklaus. The Concession is an 18-hole, par-72 course that runs 7,474 yards from tip to tip. The course will host the 2015 NCAA Men's and Women's Championships. The course offers a natural golf experience lined with aged oaks and pines, along with scenic water features.
The Hawkeyes had three top-five team finishes and four top-10 individual finishes last fall. Iowa closed the season on a high note with their best result of the season, placing fifth at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. The Hawkeyes fired a season-low 72-hole score of 851 (-1). Iowa also carded the seventh best 18-hole score in program history at the Royal Oaks, a seven-under, 277. Iowa also posted top-five finishes at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (4th/877(+13)) and the Rod Myers Invitational (T5th/873(+7)).
Individually, junior Steven Ihm led the Hawkeyes in the fall campaign with a 73.0 stroke average. Sophomores Joseph Winslow (73.91), Ian Vandersee (74.6) and Brian Bullington (75.2) round out Iowa's leading scorers.
VANDERSEE CLOSES FALL WITH TITLE
Sophomore Ian Vandersee provided fireworks for Iowa in the final fall event, winning the individual title at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. Vandersee shot a seven-under, 206, which is tied for the lowest three-round score in program history. His opening round 65 (-6) is tied for the third lowest 18-hole score in program history. Vandersee became the 50th Hawkeye to win medalist honors, and was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week for his efforts.
IHM LEADING THE WAY
Junior Steven Ihm recorded nine rounds at or below par and had two top-10 finishies in the fall, both of which were team highs. Ihm placed second at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (209/-7) and fifth at the Rod Myers Invitational (216/E). The Peosta, Iowa, native carded his best round of the season in the opening round at Spirit Hollow Golf Course, a four-under par, 68. Ihm is currently ranked 96th in the Giolfweek/Sagarin individual rankings.
2012 BIG TEN MATCH PLAY
After receiving a bye with the second-seed in the tournament, Iowa was upset, 4-2, by Northwestern in the quarterfinals. The Hawkeyes rebounded with a victory over 31st-ranked Indiana in the consolation side. Ihm, Winslow and Bullington saw action at the event in 2012, and are poised to do so again this season. The trio each posted a 1-1 record at the event last year.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
The Hawkeyes have the 19th ranked strength of schedule in the nation, according to Golfweek.com.
Every player on the roster has seen action in at least one tournament this season. Four players played all 15 rounds (Ihm, Vandersee, Bullington, Marks), while Winslow played 12. Freshman Landon Kowalski made his collegiate debut at the season-opening Golden Gopher Invitational. Each freshmen (Kowalski, Aussarassakorn, Yankovich) competed individually at the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational in Ball State as well.
A PROGRAM ON THE RISE
Under head coach Mark Hankins, the Hawkeyes are a program heading in the right direction. Iowa has advanced to NCAA postseason play in four consecutive seasons. The Hawkeyes have also reached the NCAA Championships three of the past four seasons, and are one of just 22 teams in the nation to do so. Iowa has won eight tournaments since 2008, had six individual medalists since 2009 and has had three All-Americans since 2008.
HEAD COACH Mark Hankins
Head coach Mark Hankins enters his sixth season as head coach. Under Hankins' guidance, Iowa has advanced to NCAA postseason competition the past four seasons. The Hawkeyes have advanced to three NCAA Championships in the past four years, and is one of just 22 teams in the nation to do so. Iowa was ranked 155th when Hankins took over the program in 2008, yet the Hawkeyes have been consistently ranked within the top-30 for the past three years. Hankins is a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and a graduate of Iowa State.
Iowa returns to action on Feb. 16 with the Big Four Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Hawkeyes will compete against in-state foes Drake, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.