Third time was not the charm for ISU men’s golf at Big Four Match

Mike Randleman

After two straight defeats to the University of Iowa at the Big Four Match, the ISU men’s golf team believed this year was their year to break through. Despite a closely contested matchup, the Cyclones were defeated once again.

The two teams entered the March 1 match ranked almost identically in the Golfstat Rankings — Iowa at 48, Iowa State at 53 — and their final match reflected it.

The Cyclones were defeated 3.5-2.5 in the one-on-one stroke play format that rewarded a point for each individual win and a half-point for a tie.

“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.

Despite falling short in the title match, ISU coach Andrew Tank came away pleased with the opportunities the exhibition presented his team.

The weather conditions were pretty challenging. It was windy, there was on and off rain,” Tank said. “That was a definite positive for us to get to practice in those conditions because our first two trips we didn’t have any wind.”

The Australian duo of Ruben Sondjaja and Sam Daley were also bright spots for the Cyclones, both going 2-0 in their matches.

“It’s definitely a good feeling to have, knowing that you contributed to the team,” Sondjaja said.

Sondjaja said the unusually windy and rainy conditions in Phoenix worked in his and Daley’s favor.

“I actually really enjoyed it. Sammy and I are used to those conditions back in Australia. In the back of my mind, when they were wincing about the conditions I sort of knew I had the advantage there.”

In his final round last weekend at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate, Sondjaja posted a 77, the highest round of the freshman’s career.

This week, Sondjaja bounced back to post rounds of 71 and 67, the second-lowest individual total of the tournament.

“I think that was just a bit of an anomaly in the final round of Palm Springs, [Fla.],” Tank said. “Ruben’s been practicing really well and playing very solid. That was just a poor round, so I feel like the scores he shot yesterday were more of what he has been doing.”

After Sondjaja, Daley posted the second-best Cyclone total, recording rounds of 73 and 68. His second round, albeit unofficial, matches his lowest round of the season.

Before Iowa State’s championship match against the Hawkeyes in the afternoon, the Cyclones faced the Panthers of Northern Iowa in the morning.

Fernandez was the top performer for the Cyclones in their 5.5-0.5 win over the Panthers.

Fernandez’ posted a four-under-par total of 67, tops with Sondjaja and Iowa’s Steven Ihm for the low round of the tournament. Fernandez’ also recorded an ace, the second Cyclone ace in competition. Blake Waller recorded an ace in September in the first round of the Columbia Regional Preview.

Unfortunately for Fernandez, he was unable to sustain the momentum from his first round going into his match with Steven Ihm. Ihm shot a 68, easily topping Fernandez’ 77.

In his first start of the spring season, redshirt sophomore Collin Foster went 1-0-1 with scores of 77 and 71.

Freshman Jack Carter also made his first spring start, posting consecutive rounds of 75, good for a 0-1-1 record.

Freshman Nick Voke shot rounds of 75 and 76 to earn a 1-1 record.

In the final round, Iowa posted four rounds of par or better, with Iowa State recording three.

As Tank alluded to, the Cyclones and Hawkeyes will face off again this season.

First at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational on March 21 and at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational on April 12.

Iowa State will next compete March 10 at the General Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C.