Iowa State golfers will use time off to improve

Dean Berhow-Goll

Even with having a bright spot at the Firestone Invitational, members of the ISU men’s golf team know they can do better.

The Cyclones finished seventh out of 13 teams at the Invitational, and while seventh isn’t terrible, it was the smaller competition that hurts.

“We got beat by some schools that weren’t ranked very high,” said coach Andrew Tank, “and that puts us in a tough position as we go forward ranking-wise.”

As a team, four of the five golfers for the Cyclones played their worst on their last round. That statistic speaks for itself in terms of finishing strong.

“I think we’re being sort of lackadaisical out there,” Tank said. “We need to be focused at all times on the golf course, especially when trying to finish well coming into the clubhouse.”

On the other hand, a good sign for Iowa State is that Nathan Leary has come back very strong after missing some time due to his struggling scores.

Leary finished with a team-best 215, tying him for seventh overall.

“I went home and got a putting lesson from my dad when the rest of the team was traveling,” Leary said, “and he helped me work on speed and control with the putter, and it was solid this week.”

Nate McCoy was only three shots behind Leary, with a 218, and tied for 18th overall. McCoy said he knows he is capable and should be playing better, but struggled on a few holes that eventually cost him nine strokes.

Right behind McCoy was Michael Wuertz with a 220. Wuertz has been the consistent golfer for the team so far, playing well enough to stay in the hunt, but not enough to crack that top tier.

Consistency seems to be the focal point of the team’s struggles.

“I played really well in some stretches, but didn’t put any full rounds together,” Wuertz said. “To be able to get where I want to be, I have to play more consistently.”

Now that the Firestone Invitational is over, the team has two weeks before its next meet, which is something it’s not used to after having quick turnarounds between meets.

The Cyclones aren’t looking at it as a break, but rather as a critical time to improve before a big meet and before winter.

“As a team we need to play smart and to stay in the present,” McCoy said. “If we do that and play to our potential, the scores will take care of themselves.”

As a coaching staff, Tank and assistant coach Patrick Datz feel like practices need to be picked up and be more intense.

“We need to focus, and do the little things during practice,” Tank said. “I’ve noticed that as a team, during the last couple holes, we seem to be just trying to limp into the clubhouse rather than focusing on finishing positively.”

Practices leading up to the next meet will be more stressful and more mentally challenging than before. Tank feels like the team is falling asleep, and with the drills the coaches plan to have it will demand a higher level of focus and intensity from the players.

There’s one meet left before winter break, and Tank feels that “there’s no excuse” to not be playing at a higher level after playing four meets already.

“I think it’s almost a time of put up or shut up,” Tank said, “and we just need to go out there and put all our hard work from this fall out there and perform.”

The golfers are confident in their game, and the coaches are confident in them — all they have to do is put it all together.

“As a team I think we can win this last tournament,” Leary said, “and if we can have a good week of practice and have all five guys play well, I don’t see why we can’t go into the winter on a high note.”