Sept. 12, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's September edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department's online publication.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- For University of Iowa senior men's golfer Steven Ihm, his 2013 summer was one that most college golfers could only dream of.
"This summer has been a lot of fun," said Ihm. "Getting the opportunity to play in world class events is how you build your game. This summer I have played with some of the best in the world and I am always learning new things and building my game."
Following the spring season, in which he was one of six golfers named first team All-Big Ten and earned PING All-Midwest Region accolades, the Peosta, Iowa, native embarked on a special summer.
In mid-May, Ihm earned a sponsor's exemption for the PGA TOUR's John Deere Classic, and is believed to be the first University of Iowa player to receive a sponsor's exemption as a collegian in the 43-year history of the Quad Cities' PGA TOUR event.
"Steven looks hungry, and it's good to see. He's got a good team. He's got a great coach -- coach (Mark) Hankins is doing a great job there. They're doing good things at Iowa."
-- Zach Johnson, 2007 Masters Champion
In mid-June, he won the 60th annual Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Pa., carding a final round 67 (-3). Ihm played the four-round tournament at eight-under par (272) to win the prestigious event -- joining the likes of Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Lucas Glover, Scott Verplank and Ben Crenshaw as Sunnehanna Amateur champions.
In mid-July, while the tour pros in the John Deere Classic field sported sponsorship logos on their apparel at TPC Club Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., Ihm donned a Tigerhawk logo on his chest.
"It was awesome," said Ihm about representing his institution at a PGA TOUR event. "It is great for the program and I am happy I can do this for the program. We have a good golf team. I like sporting Iowa gear; I am proud of it."
He birdied his first ever PGA TOUR hole and posted a 36-hole score of 140 (71, 69, -2), missing the cut by two strokes.
At the John Deere Classic, Ihm had the opportunity to play a practice round with Iowa native, Hawkeye fan, and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson. Johnson, who has quite the resume, noted Ihm's resume and reminisced about similarities from his first PGA experience.
"The similarity was we had sponsor's exemptions, so that would probably be it," said Johnson. "My resume as an amateur paled in comparison to what his is already. That's where the similarities stop. He's already won a massive amateur event in Pennsylvania. He was exempt for this. He was exempt for that, and he's not even a senior in college yet. But, great kid, great demeanor. It seems like he's a bit mature beyond his young years."
Johnson noticed a confidence in Steven, and pointed to the success of the Iowa men's golf program.
"Steven looks hungry, and it's good to see," said Johnson. "He's got a good team. He's got a great coach -- coach (Mark) Hankins is doing a great job there. They're doing good things at Iowa."
"Steven has used his collegiate success this past year to gain invitation into the top nationally competitive amateur tournaments this summer," said UI head coach Mark Hankins. "With his win at the Sunnehanna, exemption into the John Deere Classic, and solid finishes at the Southern Am and Western Am, he has developed into one of the top amateur golfers in the country.
"With the U.S. Amateur still remaining, he has the opportunity to continue his momentum into his senior year and get himself into a position to achieve the individual collegiate goals that he has in place for this upcoming season."
Ihm and his teammates will look to make their 6th-straight NCAA Regional appearance in 2014.
The Hawkeyes open the season this weekend, hosting the annual Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa, Sept. 15-17.