Nick Voke wins first event since return from injury


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Nick Voke, seen here at the Iowa State practice facility in October 2013, will return to the VCU Shootout on Sept. 21-22 to defend his individual title in 2014

Mike Randleman

From lying unconscious on Beach Avenue after a longboarding accident to standing proudly in the winner’s circle, Nick Voke’s fortunes have changed drastically in the last four months.

After missing postseason play last season due to a longboard accident in May that caused a concussion and a broken collarbone, Voke earned medalist honors at the Janney VCU Shootout. This was Voke’s first collegiate event back from injury.

“It feels pretty good. I’ve come a long way the last four months,” Voke said. “I feel like I’ve worked pretty hard, so it’s nice to see some results.”

The sophomore from Auckland, New Zealand, was sidelined for months before he was able to fully practice again midway through the summer. When he could return to the course, he worked diligently to get back to the level he reached in his freshman campaign where he led the team in sub-70 rounds and was second in scoring average.

“It was pretty gut-wrenching to see the lads fly off to nationals without me, so this was just a progression to get back there,” Voke said.

His strong showing this week was a testament to Voke’s work ethic and mentality, said ISU coach Andrew Tank.

“It’s really just a sign of who he is as a person and as a player,” Tank said. “I knew that he could bounce back from the injury and play great, so I was never really too concerned. But it was awesome to see it all come together.”

While those in the program will insist Voke’s win was not as improbable as it may seem, the manner in which he emerged victorious could be argued so.

He began the 54-hole tournament with a two-over-par round of 74, digging himself a five-shot hole from the lead. Voke’s second round did not start much better as he played his first four holes two-over-par.

From an outside perspective, the wheels appeared to be coming off. The even-keeled Voke, however, stuck to his game plan and regained his form just in the knick of time.

Finding his swing midway through the second round, Voke caught fire en route to a five-under-par finish in his last 10 holes of the second round, giving him the 36-hole lead by one shot.

After sleeping overnight with the lead, Voke said he felt some pressure but was able to avoid leaderboard-watching for much of the tournament and stuck to playing his own game.

Though he double bogied his third hole, which narrowed his lead, he felt freed up to finish his round the way he wanted.

“It was quite a good thing I double bogeyed the third because I was able to take a step back and sort of continue working on my own things and just go into my own world, essentially,” Voke said.

For much of the day, Voke was in control of the lead until Maclain Huge of Virginia Tech made a late rally. Voke bogeyed two of his final three holes while Huge made three birdies on his back nine.

On Voke’s final hole, he knew getting up and down from off the green for par on the 18th hole would likely be enough to earn the victory but failed to do so, leaving the door wide open for Huge.

With a birdie, Huge could win the event and a par would result in a tie. Unlike Voke, Huge’s final hole was the par-four first hole, the toughest hole on the course.

Huge went on to bogey, however, allowing Voke to hang on in dramatic fashion.

“I think he handled it really well,” Tank said of how Voke handled the moment. “I know he’s been in that position before. This is the first time here in the U.S. as a collegiate golfer that he’s been in that position, so it’s a little different and it’s certainly been awhile, but I think he handled it well and he just stuck to his routine and made good decisions.”

Voke’s teammate Scott Fernandez said his teammate’s preparation was crucial to Voke taking home the trophy.

“I played with him in the practice round,” said Fernandez, the 2011 Janney VCU Shootout medalist. “I saw he was asking a lot of questions to Coach about strategy, so I think he really did a good job of asking questions in the practice round. He set up a really good game plan and he played it to perfection, so I’m really excited for him.”

Though Tank predicted before the season began that Voke would regain his pre-injury form, he was still proud of his young player for the resolve he showed this week in Virginia.

“I’m really proud of him,” Tank said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to come back than that.”