Fernandez to return to site of past success in Tempe


Senior Scott Fernandez  practices putting at the ISU golf performance center on U.S Highway 69 just south of Ames on Sept. 21, 2013.

Mike Randleman

With the Big 12 Championships just more than a month away, the ISU men’s golf team is hitting the stretch run of its season.

The Cyclones have three regular season events before Big 12s, including the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. on March 21 through 23.

Iowa State is set to compete in this event for the second year in a row. Last year, the Cyclones finished in seventh place out of 18 teams. The field a year ago featured then No. 1 California, No. 3 New Mexico and champion No. 30 UNLV.

None of those three teams will be in this year’s field that features zero top-25 teams in the Golfstat rankings. No. 32 Arizona State is the highest-ranked team, with No. 46 Iowa and No. 53 Iowa State just behind.

Arizona State also features the highest-ranked player in Golfstat’s individual ranking, No. 27 Jon Rahm. As a freshman, Rahm finished in a tie for 11th place in last season’s event.

Last year, Iowa State finished 17 shots behind UNLV, though Scott Fernandez almost took home an individual title. Fernandez finished in a tie for second individually, one shot away from a share of medalist honors.

Fernandez posted three rounds in the 60s en route to a 10-under-par 203 total, including a career low six-under-par score of 65 in the second round.

He is Iowa State’s highest-ranked individual entering the week ranked 127th.

Current starters Sam Daley and Collin Foster also competed in last year’s event. Daley finished tied for 46th place with a four-over-par total of 217. Foster tied for 46th-place with a 220 total.

Iowa State’s other two starters, Ruben Sondjaja and Nick Voke are freshman.

While the Cyclones may be familiar with the Karsten Golf Course, their competition will be relatively new. Not counting an unofficial loss to Iowa in the Big Four Match, Iowa State has just a 2-1 comparative record against the 14 other teams in the field.

For the season, Iowa State’s comparative record is 62-25-2.

Arizona State’s coach, Tim Mickelson, is the younger brother of professional golfer and Arizona State alum, Phil Mickelson.

Iowa State will be making its third appearance in Arizona during the spring season. In the first two trips to Scottsdale and Phoenix, the team has stopped to play practice rounds at the Karsten course and has also spent Spring Break in Arizona in preparation for the tournament.

The first round of the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational will take place March 21, with the second and third round on March 22-23.