Aug. 12, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- All-Big Ten golfer Steven Ihm and incoming freshman Raymond Knoll are representing the University of Iowa men's golf team at the 113th U.S. Amateur Championship in Brookline, Mass., this week.
Head coach Mark Hankins said the tournament will be extremely beneficial for Ihm and Knoll, due to both the stiff competition and the difficulty of the golf course.
"It's the number one amateur tournament in the world," said Hankins, who has guided Iowa to five straight NCAA appearances. "It's extremely competitive, and because it's a qualifying situation for most of these guys, it's a nice summer's end situation for them to grow and become confident, and practice before they come back to college golf."
Ihm was given an exemption from qualifying for the tournament, due to his current Men's World Amateur Golf ranking (46th). Ihm won the Sunnehanna Amateur Championship with an eight-under par (272) four-round score in June. He also competed in the John Deere Classic in July, his first career PGA TOUR event.
During the spring season, Ihm had the lowest scoring average (71.4) for the Hawkeyes, playing nine rounds at or below par. He shared medalist honors at two events (Hawkeye Invitational and Boilermaker Invitational), and was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week on April 24. Ihm also garnered PING All-Midwest Region honors.
Knoll, a Naperville, Ill. native, won the Illinois State Junior Amateur, AJGA Boyne Highland Championship, MAJGT Windy City Open and PJGT John Deere Classic in 2012. He ranked first in the state of Illinois and 37th in the nation in the AJGA Polo Golf Rankings.
"Ray, being an incoming freshman, is going to gain tremendous confidence from this because he gets to play against all these college guys that are in the tournament, along with the highest ranked amateurs in the world," Hankins said.
Ihm and Knoll are not the first pair of Hawkeyes to play in the US Amateur, as current Hawkeyes Brian Bullington and Ian Vandersee competed in the event in 2012. Vandersee joined former Hawkeye Jed Dirksen at the event in 2011, and Vince India and Barrett Kelpin participated in 2010. Kelpin and current Hawkeye Ryan Marks also competed in 2009.
"Either (Steven or Raymond), depending on how the golf course plays, could play well and make the cut," Hankins said.
The U.S. Amateur is the oldest championship in the country -- one day older than the U.S. Open. Past winners of the annual event include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. This year's championship marks the sixth time the U.S. Amateur has been held at The Country Club.
The Country Club -- which will play over 7,300 yards long this week as a par 70 -- is no stranger to major amateur and professional events. The club has hosted the U.S. Amateur five times (1910, 1922, 1934, 1957, 1982), the U.S. Women's Amateur three times (1902, 1941, 1995) and the U.S. Open three times (1913, 1963, 1988). The Country Club was also the site of the 1999 Ryder Cup.
The tournament will consist of two days of stroke play, with the top 64 players moving on to match play-style competition from Wednesday to Saturday. On Sunday, the 36-hole Championship match will be televised on NBC at 3 P.M. (CT). Ihm and Knoll play today in the first day of stroke play.
For more information on Iowa men's golf, follow @iowahawkeyegolf on twitter.
Follow Ihm and Knoll with live scoring.