ISU men’s golf hopes third time is the charm against Iowa

Mike Randleman

As the Big 12 Championships quickly approach for the ISU men’s golf team, one final regular season event remains at the home course of an in-state rival.

On April 12 and 13, No. 53 Iowa State will travel to Iowa City to compete in the Hawkeye-Great River Invitational, hosted by No. 46 Iowa.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones have jostled for the upper hand in the Golfstat rankings throughout the 2013-14 season, and their two matchups on the course this spring have proven why.

At the Big Four exhibition match in early March, Iowa got the best of Iowa State in a one-on-one stroke play competition, winning 3.5-2.5 in a tightly contested matchup.

“It’s certainly disappointing to not get the win against your in-state rival, but I think we’ll see them a couple more times this spring, so we’ll get another chance,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank after the match on March 1.

Tank was right, as the Cyclones would see the Hawkeyes again three weeks later at the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational.

Iowa State held a two-shot advantage against Iowa heading into the third and final round, but could not hang on at tournament’s end. The Cyclones fell three spots to fifth place and 14 shots behind the second-place Hawkeyes.

With two chances by the wayside at neutral courses in Arizona, the Cyclones third and final shot to defeat the Hawkeyes will come at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City.

“It slipped away in the last tournament at Arizona State and at the Big Four, said junior Scott Fernandez of the team’s narrow misses. “So we’ll have to match them at their home course.”

Though Iowa will have the home-course advantage, Iowa State is no stranger to Finkbine Golf Course.

“The guys have played there a number of times, it’ll be the first time for Nick [Voke] and Ruben [Sondjaja], but it’s nice that the other guys have that familiarity with it,” Tank said.

One Cyclone that has great familiarity with the course is Scott Fernandez, who has found success in his first two trips to Iowa City.

In his freshman and sophomore seasons, Fernandez found himself in contention for medalist honors in both seasons, finishing in a tie for fifth place in 2012 and in fifth place alone in 2013.

Fernandez, ranked 105th in the Golfstat individual ranking, will be the second-highest ranked player in this week’s field, only behind last year’s co-medalist No. 86 Steven Ihm.

Though the Cyclones only had three days to prepare for their final regular season event, the team is looking forward to putting a rocky seven-over-par final round at the Jim West Intercollegiate behind them and to face their rivals one last time this year.

“I like the quick turnaround. I feel like the boys, myself included, are starting to hit that big stretch coming to the end of the season,” said junior Sam Daley, who tied for fifth place at the Jim West Intercollegiate. “We lost to them at the Big Four, we were right with them at ASU and they got us on the last day, so it’d be nice to give it to them at their home track.”