ISU men’s golf breaks records but searches for consistency


Miranda Cantrell/Iowa State Daily

Ruben Sondjaja, freshman in psychology, sets up for practice at the ISU golf performance center on U.S. Highway 69 just south of Ames on Sept. 21, 2013.

Mike Randleman

It was a record-setting week for the ISU men’s golf team, but the milestones did not translate to a victory at the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational.

Scott Fernandez broke the Iowa State record for top-10 finishes and Ruben Sondjaja tied the school’s record for lowest round, but final round struggles kept the Cyclones from a high finish.

Finding consistency has been a goal for Iowa State throughout the season, but the up-and-down play from the Cyclones left ISU coach Andrew Tank with a “bad taste” in his mouth.

“I think we just have to get better at not having the big momentum swings,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank. “Yesterday (the second round) we shot ten-under, but we had three doubles (double-bogies) on the last three holes. It’s just a bit of consistency that we’re lacking.”

The Cyclones’ second round total of 274 was the second-lowest in school history, but traces of their strong play were missing in the final round.

Iowa State followed up its 274 with a 298, the third-highest round of the day. As a result, the Cyclones fell to fifth place after beginning the day in second.

“Overall if today would’ve gone better, I would feel completely different but this has just left a really bad taste in my mouth. It’s sort of an eye-opener and we’ll see how the guys respond to this and how they act,” Tank said.

Tank also said that he believes his team has the “firepower” to compete with the likes of Arizona State, who bested Iowa State by 34 strokes with a 35-under-par total, but that consistency is lacking.

 “We showed that the first couple days with some solid play,” Tank said of his team that was in second place after two rounds. “We’re just making way too many unforced errors.”

Some of the firepower Tank referred to came from Scott Fernandez.

In finishing in a tie for seventh place out of 81 golfers, Fernandez, a junior, earned his 19th career top-10, surpassing Jason Knutzon (1995-98) in the Iowa State record books.

His opening round 65 carried him to his high finish and matched his career-low round, recorded at the same event last year.

Despite his six-under-par total in round one, Fernandez did not even have the best round of the day (a 62 from Arizona State’s Jon Rahm) and would need two more rounds in the 60s to stay in the hunt.

Fernandez was unable to break 70 in his next two rounds, however, in posting closing rounds of 70 and 73 to finish 16 shots out of first place.

While Fernandez was the overall leader for the Cyclones, freshman Ruben Sondjaja stole the spotlight in the second round.

Sondjaja failed to go under par in the first and third round, but found greatness in between.

Rounds of 73 and 75 sandwiched a seven-under-par round of 64, matching Chris Baker (2004-08) for the lowest round in Iowa State history.

“This has been in the works with Ruben for awhile now with the work that he’s put in. I think Ruben’s worked harder or as hard as anyone on the team so far in 2014,” Tank said.

Sondjaja’s 54-hole total of 212 was also the lowest of his career, and put him in a tie for 17th place.

Fellow freshman Nick Voke was the third of a trio of Cyclones to have a record-setting performance.

Voke’s score of 211 was also the lowest 54-hole total of his young career and was good for a tie for 13th place.

Iowa State will next compete at the Jim West Intercollegiate in McKinney, Texas on April 7 and 8.