Men’s golf comes up short at Big Four Match

Alex Gookin

The ISU men’s golf team got away with high scores in its win against Northern Iowa in the first round of the Big Four Match on Feb. 16, but Iowa didn’t let it get away a second time. 

The Hawkeyes won definitively, taking the championship match 5-1 and defeating Iowa State’s top three golfers by three strokes or more in each match. Zach Steffen provided the lone Cyclone win over the Hawkeyes, defeating Ryan Marks with a score of 70-74.

Every other Cyclone golfer shot over par against Iowa, losing by an average of four strokes.

“There has been a pattern of mistakes that have been made that are starting to get frustrating from my perspective, and I know the guys are getting frustrated as well,” Tank said. 

The Cyclones did, however, beat the Panthers in the first round by a score of 5.5-0.5. The teams split a point when Scott Fernandez and Branden Gaal tied at 73. 

Although the Cyclones did not lose a match to the Panthers, three of the five wins were won with over-par scores. 

The team’s slow start to the spring season has both coach Andrew Tank and assistant coach Patrick Datz disappointed with the lack of improvement from the fall season.

“Iowa is a good team, but I wouldn’t say they are better than us,” Datz said. “I just don’t think we played very well, and we didn’t capitalize on opportunities that we had.”

Much of the Cyclone’s struggles this season were due to inconsistent play in the bottom of the lineup. The opposite was true on Saturday.

“We got some good performances from the bottom half of our lineup.” Tank said. “They seemed to play better, which we didn’t have in San Antonio. So, that was sort of the bright spot. I suppose.”

All three of the under-par rounds ISU shot came from the No. 4, 5 and 6 golfers on the team with Duncan Croudis (67) and Blake Waller (68) shooting their rounds against Northern Iowa and Zach Steffen (70) against Iowa.

ISU No. 1 golfer and Golfweek’s No. 9 golfer in the nation, Scott Fernandez, struggled for the first time this season, shooting back-to-back rounds of 73. 

Although the Big Four Match was a disappointment, it doesn’t carry much, if any, weight for the rest of the season. The team’s overall record was not affected by the loss, and the team is using this tournament as a learning experience.

“I think it’s a good wake-up call for us because like I said, the mistakes that we’re making seem to be the same ones over and over again, and we are doing the things that players do to shoot high scores,” Tank said.

The Cyclones will travel to Palm Springs, Calif., on Feb. 22-24 to play in the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate.