June 27, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's June edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department's online publication.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa men's golf team concluded its 2014 season at the NCAA Columbia Regional, joining Illinois and Northwestern as the only three Big Ten teams to appear in six-straight NCAA Regionals.
Leading up to NCAA Regional competition, the Hawkeyes recorded strong finishes in all six of their prior events, winning two tournament titles and finishing third at the Big Ten Championships (May 2-4).
The Hawkeyes ran away with the team title at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational on April 12-13 in Iowa City, shooting team scores of 286(-2), 282(-6), 285(-3) for a 853(-11) total, topping second-place finisher Iowa State (+4) by 15 strokes. Iowa led throughout the entire tournament and tied the seventh-best 54-hole score (853) in program history.
The Hawkeyes followed that up by defending their title at the Boilermaker Invitational, April 19-20. Iowa carded a one-over-par 54-hole score of 865, with a 14-under-par final round score of 274. Iowa entered the final round in fourth place and trailed Big Ten opponent Illinois by 10 strokes. The Hawkeyes used the second-best round in school history (-14) to surge into first place, jumping nationally-ranked UCLA and Louisville.
The two titles came on the heels of strong finishes in Iowa's first three spring events. The Hawkeyes placed fourth at the Big Ten Match Play Championships (Feb. 14-15), won the Big Four Championship (March 1), and finished runner-up at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational (March 21-23).
Iowa fell short of advancing to the NCAA Championships, but the future is bright for the UI program.
"We will miss Steven (Ihm) dearly, but we have to re-group and get ready for next year," said UI head coach Mark Hankins. "We had a really solid year, ranked in the 32 to 35 range nationally. It is one tournament; if we do not play well, we do not advance. It hurts a little right now, but when we start looking at our season in general, a couple tournament victories, other top finishes; we played really well."
Four Hawkeyes -- senior Steven Ihm, junior Ian Vandersee, junior Brian Bullington and freshman Raymond Knoll -- were named to the Division I PING All-Midwest Regional Team. Iowa and Illinois were the only two Big Ten teams to have four golfers honored by the GCAA.
Three of the honorees, Vandersee, Bullington, and Knoll, will return next season. In addition, freshman Carson Schaake, who joined the four all-region honorees in the UI lineup this spring, will return in 2014-15, along with sophomores Voramate Aussarassakorn and Nate Yankovich.
"Carson and Ray really stepped up towards the end of the year," said Hankins. "They are good players, have confidence, and want to win. We have some leadership qualities in freshmen that we haven't seen in a while, and that was nice to see.
"Ian and Brian come back next season. Both are great players. Voramate is showing a lot of promise and Nate returns as well, who has a great deal of experience. There is a lot of experience returning."