Tough tournament awaits ISU men’s golf in Texas

Mike Randleman

Fresh from a week off after a strenuous early-spring schedule, the ISU men’s golf team is ready for the upcoming stretch as it heads to Texas for the Jim West Intercollegiate on April 7 and 8.

After four tournaments in a 30-day span in February and March, the Cyclones are down to their final two regular-season tournaments. Before heading to Iowa City next week, Iowa State has its sights set on the Lone Star state, where a demanding course designed by former Open champion, Tom Weiskopf, awaits.

“It’s going to be in great condition like all TPC [Tournament Players Club] courses are,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank regarding the 7,438 yard TPC Craig Ranch course. “I know they’ve had PGA Tour qualifying school there before, so it’s a pretty demanding golf course from tee to green. It’ll be a good test.”

Last year, the winning team score was 20-over-par and no individual broke par for the tournament. In comparison the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational, Iowa State’s previous tournament this season, saw a winning score of 35-under-par with 21 individuals breaking par.

This year marks the first season the Cyclones will play in the Jim West Intercollegiate tournament under Tank’s leadership, though players’ pre-tournament preparation will see little change.

“You approach it similar (to a familiar course), just spend a little bit more time on the greens and just seeing if the course is playing hard, fast, slow, long, all that sort of stuff,” said junior Sam Daley.

Aside from adjusting to one of the tougher courses they’ll see this season, the Cyclones will face the No. 10 team, Virginia, and three top-100 players including No. 10 Bryson Dechambeau of Southern Methodist University.

No. 55 Iowa State enters the tournament as the third-highest ranked team in a field of 15.

Improving from a fifth place finish in Arizona and striving for the first team victory since 2011 are some immediate goals for this week, but the team is also working towards postseason play that begins at the end of April.

“Obviously you don’t want to look too far ahead, but postseason is massive golf for us and we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing,” Daley said. “The boys are starting to hit better form. We’re bonding well as a group so we should start playing a little bit better.”

Freshman Ruben Sondjaja said the team has improved throughout the season and that he and his teammates need no extra effort to keep pushing through to the end.

“I think we’ve been raising the intensity every week. I don’t think there’s been a point where coach has had to say ‘Come on guys, you guys need to get motivated,’” Sondjaja said. “We’re always there to practice and improve and that’s what I love about the guys on the team.”