ISU men’s golf outlasted in birdie barrage, finish in sixth place

Mike Randleman

At most college tournaments, a final score under par is usually good enough to win, but not at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate.

The ISU men’s golf team broke par for just the second time this year, but its five-under-par total of 859 — good for sixth place out of 23 teams — paled in comparison to the birdie barrage by Oregon who took home the title after a 27-under-par performance.

“If I had to grade our team performance, I’d probably give it a C-,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank. “But that’s also a representation of how highly I think of the players that we have and what we’re capable of. I think the standard has been raised this year.”

Last season, the Cyclones finished in the upper-half of the leaderboard only five times, failing to record a finish higher than third. This year’s team has raised the bar, having already recorded three runner-up finishes.

Though Tank said his team did not meet its standards this week, the Cyclones did come away with some positives from their weekend in Palm Desert, Calif. Iowa State posted its lowest team round of the year and worked through adversity, particularly in the case of freshman Nick Voke.

In round one, Voke, along with two other members of his group, teed off from the wrong tee box on the seventh hole. After the misstep, a two shot penalty was enforced and Voke ended up with a four-over-par round of 76.

Despite the misfortune, Voke bounced back to record rounds of 68 and 69, the only Cyclone to shoot in the 60s.

“It was more of a shock, really, but I wasn’t really disappointed because I was happy with how I was playing,” Voke said. “Obviously, it affected my score, but it didn’t affect how I played.”

Voke’s strong finish on the weekend propelled him from a tie for 91st place after round one to a tie for 19th at tournament’s end.

While Voke posted two low rounds on the weekend, teammate Scott Fernandez was Iowa State’s most consistent golfer, posting three consecutive rounds under par.

“I’m really happy with where my game’s at. I really got in a good rhythm,” Fernandez said after his final round total of 71. “Walking up to the ball, I was seeing the shot and I was really consistent when I came off of the shot. I’m really happy to have three rounds under par, that’s a nice way to start the spring season.”

As has been the case for much of his career, putting was his weakness. In Sunday’s final round, he hit 15 greens, but could not get many putts to drop.

“He hit the ball really well. If he would’ve putted well, he would’ve shot three rounds in the 60s,” Tank said. “His putting just wasn’t quite sharp, but I think from tee to green, he was where he expects himself to be.”

Junior Sam Daley failed to break par along with Voke and Fernandez, but was able to post qualifying scores in all three days. His rounds of 72, 72 and 73 resulted in a tie for 42nd place.

In his first start of the season, senior Duncan Croudis, was able to contribute to the team’s third-round team score (287), recording a two-over-par total of 74. Croudis finished in a tie for 115th place for the tournament, with scores of 76 and 82 in the first and second rounds.

Freshman Ruben Sondjaja was a key contributor for the Cyclones in the first two rounds with scores of 72 and 71. Sunday was a different story, though, when Sondjaja posted his highest score as a Cyclone, 77, and recorded his highest career finish, a tie for 54th place.

Iowa State defeated three of four Big 12 teams in the field, finishing ahead of Texas Tech, Kansas and Kansas State. TCU was the best of the Big 12, finishing in a tie for third place.

Iowa State will next compete in the Big Four Match on March 1 in Phoenix, Ariz.