ISU golf hangs on with birdies for second place finish in Texas


Junior Sam Daley practices his putt Feb. 26 at the golf team’s indoor practice facility.

Mike Randleman

Entering the final round at the Jim West Intercollegiate with little margin for error, the ISU men’s golf team’s chances for a title were quickly dashed. Instead, a late string of birdies were needed to rally the Cyclones to a second-place finish.

No. 55 Iowa State posted its two best rounds of the season with scores of 278 and 275 in the first two rounds, but remained 13 shots behind No. 10 Virginia entering the final day. In a blustery final round, the Cavaliers continued their torrid pace while the tough conditions got the best of the Cyclones.

“I don’t know if that’s the absolute best they could play, but it had to be pretty close,” said ISU Coach Andrew Tank of Virginia’s 29-shot victory. “We had bits and pieces, but we really only had three guys shooting low rounds at a time. I think the difference is they had five guys doing it.”

Virginia’s exceptional play allowed its lead to balloon to more than 30 shots midway through the final round and resigned the Cyclones to fight for second place. Louisiana-Monroe briefly snuck ahead of Iowa State late in the final round, but a quintet of birdies for the Cyclones carried the team four shots clear of the Warhawks at days end.

Of the five birdies, freshman Nick Voke shot three of them.

After a career-low 66 score in the second-round, Voke struggled out of the gate in the final round, but rallied with three closing birdies to post a three-over-par mark of 75 and finish in a tie for 11th place.

Along with Voke’s birdies, junior Scott Fernandez poured in a birdie on his penultimate hole and junior Sam Daley capped his round with a birdie on the 18th hole.

Though Daley’s final birdie proved crucial, his 14 birdies prior were equally important in a career performance that kept his team near the top.

“He’s worked really hard the last two weeks, probably the best preparation he’s had leading into a tournament that I’ve seen,” Tank said. “I think it paid off for him this weekend.”

With a 206 total, Daley bested his previous career-best 54-hole total by eight shots. His two-under-par round of 70, the only under-par round by a Cyclone on the final day, propelled him to a tie for fifth place and his best finish of the season.

“We’ve had team practices, then I’ve had a little time to myself. I’ve just been practicing by myself at Coldwater [Golf Links] and working on things I need to work on, putting in a couple extra hours or a couple extra sessions here and there,” Daley said. “It’s very pleasing when you have been working hard and your practices have been good to see the results like this weekend. I’m pretty happy with that.”

After returning home from Texas on Tuesday night, Iowa State will have a quick turnaround, competing against in-state rival Iowa at the Hawkeye Invitational  on April 12 and 13 in Iowa City.

The Hawkeye Invitational will provide Iowa State a final chance to notch a victory against Iowa after two near misses.

“It slipped away in the last tournament at Arizona State and at the Big Four, so we’ll have to match them at their home course,” Fernandez said, who tied his career-best score of 65 in the first round at the Jim West Intercollegiate. “I can tell guys are really pumped to try to beat them.”