Fernandez, ISU men’s golf finish second in Iowa City


Scott Fernandez, junior in pre-business, practices on the new golf facility. Teammate Collin Foster said: “It’s amazing, the options you have. … You can practice almost every shot.”

Mike Randleman

Finishing in second place can evoke a wide range of emotions. The ISU men’s golf team, who has had five runner-up finishes during the season, has felt them all. Unlike other weeks where they may have wondered what could have been, the Cyclones left Iowa City with a greater sense of optimism than in weeks past.

The No. 53 Iowa State men’s golf team finished 15 shots behind No. 46 Iowa at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational, but a final-round best four-under-par team total of 284 left ISU coach Andrew Tank with positives from the weekend.

“I guess not all runner-ups are created equal, this one certainly felt the best,” Tank said. “With Ruben [Sondjaja] being out of the lineup, getting off to a poor first round and then coming back and passing a couple teams today felt really good.”

Sondjaja, who had started in every tournament this season for Iowa State and travelled to Iowa City, was a late scratch due to appendicitis.

Replacing Sondjaja was fellow freshman, Jack Carter. Carter had competed as an individual at the VCU Shootout in September and in the Big Four exhibition match in March, but made his debut in the starting lineup this week.

Carter finished in a tie for 34th place out of 65 competitors and impressed Tank with his resiliency.

“What I liked about his rounds was that he finished well. He was a few over par early in each of the rounds, but seemed to kind of keep it together and fought all the way through to the finish,” Tank said. “He was battling out there; he probably didn’t have his best game this weekend, but he was a good contributor.”

Carter had a late birdie on his final hole of the day, which proved critical in Iowa State’s two-shot margin over third-place Minnesota, but it was Scott Fernandez who did the heavy lifting for the Cyclones.

Though Iowa was in control for a team victory for most of the day, No. 86 Steven Ihm of Iowa and No. 105 Fernandez of Iowa State were in a battle for medalist honors that came down to the final hole.

The two entered the event as the two highest-ranked individuals in Golfstat’s rankings and their play showed why.

Heading into the final round, Ihm was in third place at four-under-par and held a two-shot lead over Fernandez in sixth place.

Jose Mendez of Minnesota, fell off the pace in the third round with a four-over-par total of 76, setting the stage for an in-state battle for medalist honors.

Ihm led Fernandez for the entirety of the day, but never by more than three shots. At the end of the round, with Ihm in the clubhouse at seven-under-par for the tournament, Fernandez had a chance to force a playoff. At his final hole of the day, the par-3 fourth hole, Fernandez was at six-under-par and in need of a birdie.

Fernandez, unbeknownst of his exact standing on the leaderboard, made bogie and would have to settle for a three-under-par round of 69 and a third-straight top-five finish in Iowa City without a victory.

While Fernandez was in the running for medalist honors, his teammate Collin Foster had a career day in his home state.

With family and friends in attendance, the redshirt sophomore from Waukee, notched his first career top-10 finish, tying for 10th place at one-over-par for the tournament.

“It was as close to a home meet as we get, playing in Iowa City. It was fun to play well and having a crowd rooting for you,” Foster said. “I really didn’t think too much about it during the tournament, but looking back on it, it’s pretty satisfying to get a top-10, especially in basically a home meet.”

Aside from improving on his previous career-best finish (a tie for 18th-place), Foster was one of three Cyclones to post a round of par or better in the final round that helped springboard Iowa State past Kansas and Minnesota, which is Tank’s alma mater.

Freshman Nick Voke was the third ISU player to go under par in the final round. Voke recorded a two-under-par round of 70 to finish at two-over par for the tournament and in a tie for 18th-place, his third-straight top-20 finish.

“Today’s round was very solid, but could’ve been easily a couple shots better. He hit the ball well and had some good looks at birdie that just didn’t drop,” Tank said. “He’s been pretty consistent and having good rounds, he just needs to eliminate some mistakes and he can put himself in contention in pretty much any field.”

Junior Sam Daley was also in the starting lineup. Daley tied for 26th place with an eight-over-par total of 224, including a one-over-par 73 in the final round. He was second on the team in holes of birdie or better, with 12.

Iowa State has concluded regular-season play and will next compete at the Big 12 Championship at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, on April 25 through 27.