Men’s golf prepares for Big 12 Championships

Scott+Fernandez

Scott Fernandez

Alex Gookin

Things seemed to be falling into place late this season when the ISU men’s golf team finished fifth at the Furman Intercollegiate and seventh in a competitive field in Arizona.

Last week, that team didn’t show up.

The Cyclones dropped to sixth place at the Hawkeye Invitational, a meet in which both players and coaches were confident the team could win.

As the Cyclones head into the Big 12 Championships, coach Andrew Tank is hoping to put the disappointing finish behind them.

“Our goal is to be playing our best golf at this time of year,” Tank said. “I would say that we are just excited to get started.”

The Cyclones will be tested as they prepare to play some of the best teams in the country at the Big 12 Championships in Hutchinson, Kan.

The field will have no shortage of talent, with three schools ranking in Golfweek.com’s top 15: No. 3 Texas, No. 6 TCU and No. 14 Oklahoma State.

Of the nine schools in the conference, six of them are currently ranked in the top 50.

Individually, the talent is just as impressive. Texas golfer Brandon Stone is currently the No. 3 golfer nationally, while TCU’s Julien Brun is No. 4. Brun took medalist honors at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate earlier this season, beating out No. 16 Scott Fernandez by 14 strokes.

Iowa State’s No. 1 Scott Fernandez is expected to be in contention for the individual title at the Big 12 Championships and the revenge factor, on Brun specifically, is added motivation.

“I’m really motivated to beat [Brun],” Fernandez said. “I feel like I’m on the same level or better.”

The Cyclones will likely need a strong performance from Fernandez, regardless of who he beats, to have a chance in Kansas. As a team, however, the tendency to start slow is an issue they hope to avoid.

“We have been able to beat some really good teams in some rounds, but that’s after a slow start,” Fernandez said. “If we can get a better start this time I think we can be up on the¬†leaderboard.”

History has shown the same pattern. In Iowa State’s three worst finishes of the season, the first round was its worst.

Additionally, in the team’s top three finishes, the first round was the best or second best round of each tournament.

But history will not matter when the Cyclones take the course for the last time in the regular season. With one last shot to prove the team is worthy of an invitation to the NCAA Regionals, Tank said it is ready to put it all on the line.

“At this point in the season, all of your work is done, so the guys are ready and they’re prepared,” Tank said. “It’s time to go down and play golf and see where we end up at the end of the tournament.”

The Big 12 Championship will kick off in Hutchinson, Kan., on April 22, 2013, and go through April 24.