May 13, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Three years ago Steven Ihm joined the University of Iowa men's golf program. Three years later, he will leave as the first three-time All-Big Ten honoree in program history.
"One of the things that attracted me to Iowa was how good the team was and how good the future potential looked," said Ihm. "I wanted to play for teams that were going to contend for tournament titles and make the NCAA's every year. Choosing the University of Iowa was one of the best decisions I've ever made."
UI head coach Mark Hankins and the Hawkeyes sure are glad Ihm chose the UI. The Peosta, Iowa, native, who garnered the 2011 Phil Mickelson Award as the top freshman player in the NJCAA at Indiana Hills, has been a key component of Iowa's success the last three years.
As a sophomore in 2012, Ihm posted a 73.68 scoring average -- the 15th-best average in program history -- on his way to PING All-Region and second-team All-Big Ten honors. Last season as a junior, he posted the third-best scoring average in school history (72.3) en route to his second PING All-Region accolades and first-team All-Big Ten honors.
"One of the things that attracted me to Iowa was how good the team was and how good the future potential looked. I wanted to play for teams that were going to contend for tournament titles and make the NCAA's every year. Choosing the University of Iowa was one of the best decisions I've ever made."
-- Steven Ihm
Ihm is on pace for the second-lowest average in program history this year (71.35). He was named to the Big Ten All-Championships team after finishing fifth at the event, and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. He has four career tournament titles after winning the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational and Boilermaker Invitational this year, joining Lonnie Nielsen (six), Brad Klapprott (four) and Sean McCarty (four) as the only Hawkeyes to earn four or more medalist honors.
Ihm has enjoyed his run in Iowa City.
"It has been great to be able to travel all over the place and play in the top tournaments," said Ihm. "That is an opportunity the Iowa men's golf program can provide. We consistently play a top-ranked schedule and you know how to measure your game when you're competing against the best, and that is something I needed to learn when I arrived. It has been a great journey."
The journey has gone fast, but time flies when you are having fun.
"It is crazy to think that within the next three weeks I could be playing my last college tournament, but I've enjoyed it so much," said Ihm. "I have done a good job improving each year, and I'm looking forward to the future and playing professional golf. You talk about it your whole life, and I'm finally getting to that stage, so I'm pretty excited about that, too."
Before Ihm, who played in the 2013 John Deere Classic, pursues a professional career, he and the Hawkeyes are looking to finish on a strong note.
Iowa will compete in its sixth-straight NCAA Regional on May 15-17 in Columbia, Missouri. The Hawkeyes are 1-of-3 Big Ten teams (Illinois, Northwestern) to be selected to NCAA Regional competition in each of the last six years.
"It has been fun watching this team grow throughout the year," said Ihm. "We want to advance to the NCAA Finals and the match play section of the tournament. We have shown that we can compete, and we know as well as anybody how to put together low rounds. I am really looking forward to NCAA Regionals."