ISU men’s golf represented by 3 players at the Spirit International


Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Junior Sam Daley, junior Scott Fernandez and freshman Ruben Sondjaja.

Mike Randleman

In a tournament featuring 80 of the world’s top amateurs, the ISU men’s golf team sent a contingent of three players selected to represent their countries.

Sam Daley, Ruben Sondjaja and Scott Fernandez took part in the Spirit International, an exhibition in Trinity, Texas, that hosts two-player teams of males and females from 20 countries.

Daley and Sondjaja teamed up to represent their native Australia, while Fernandez competed alongside fellow Spaniard Emilio Cuartero, senior golfer at Missouri.

“It was a very cool tournament,” Sondjaja said. “They had lots of media there throughout the week. They gave us our own caddies and they had leaderboards out on the course. They really made it feel like it was a professional tournament.”

The tournament featured a four ball, best-ball format where each player plays his own ball with the best individual score for each team counted on each hole. Both men’s and women’s scores for each country are combined to produce an overall team winner.

Team Australia finished in 13th place at 10-under-par, with Daley and Sondjaja finishing in seventh place at 13-under-par on the men’s side.

Daley and Sondjaja came away pleased with finishing in the upper half of the leaderboard. They were unable, however, to edge out the playful ire of Fernandez, whose team finished in sixth place at 14-under-par in the men’s division and seventh place in the combined event.

“He definitely let us know that we lost to him by a shot,” Daley said of Fernandez. “There was a good bit of banter at the end of the day. We all got together at the end and had a good laugh about it.”

Off of the golf course, the players were housed at an adjacent campsite with other players and were provided with entertainment each night of the tournament.

“It was really similar to a summer camp environment,” Fernandez said. “We roomed with USA, Australia and Finland. We played a lot of pingpong, basketball, football with other countries, that sort of thing.”

The three Cyclones had plenty of opportunities to bond with players from all over the globe. One theme that often came up in passing was the presence Iowa State had at the tournament.

“A lot of the teams were saying, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of Iowa State people here.’ That just shows that it’s an international program,” Daley said. “This can only help the program to get it out there, and it was really good for all three of us to be ambassadors of the program.”

Fellow Australian Sondjaja expressed a similar sentiment.

“I don’t think there were many other schools that were represented as well as ISU was this week,” Sondjaja said. “I think it goes to show the high-quality of golf we have here.”