ISU men’s golf in season opener not expected to be rusty

Mike Randleman

For a team from a cold-weather locale like Ames playing a warm-weather sport like golf, it would be easy for the ISU men’s golf team to be a bit rusty to start the season.

Despite the disadvantages in a climate the Cyclones face, ISU head coach Andrew Tank said the quality reps the team has gotten at its new facility, as well as an exhibition match last weekend should have the team ready to go for the spring.

For this, he hoped the rust has been shaken off and will not be an acceptable excuse this weekend at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate.

“I’ll definitely be stressing to the guys not to fall into the traps of making any excuses or having low expectations just because it’s our first tournament,” Tank said. “They’ve practiced really well for the last five weeks and we had a good weekend of practice [in Scottsdale, Ariz.], so there shouldn’t be any reason for them not to go out and play great this week.”

Another element that could be an advantage for Iowa State is course knowledge.

The team has played the Classic Club course in the past two seasons, with senior Duncan Croudis and juniors Sam Daley and Scott Fernandez all having six competitive rounds under their belts.

In 2013, all three golfers improved upon their 2012 finishes, a feat they hope to achieve once more in 2014.

Recalling past experience, Croudis said that proper course management — careful shot making and shot selection — will be essential to improve play.

“Just making the right decisions off the tee and leaving yourself in good spots is important, otherwise you’re going to struggle to get up and down [for par] around those greens,” Croudis said.

For Fernandez, course management was the difference between his top-25 finish and TCU’s Julien Brun’s first-place finish in last year’s event.

Fernandez, who finished 14 shots behind Brun, said his game was not too far off of Brun’s, who he played with in the first round, “but he ended up winning because he had better course management, so I think that’s going to be the key factor.”

Last year, Iowa State finished in sixth place out of 16 teams, and it was the only tournament in which a Cyclone did not finish inside the top-15.

“It wasn’t one of our best events, but I feel that the team’s in a way better position heading into this week than we were a year ago,” Tank said. “I’m really expecting to have a good showing this week.”

Tournament play is set to take place Feb. 21-22.