Cyclones see progress after weekend meet

Dean Berhow-Goll

The word flexibility comes to mind when hearing coaches Andrew Tank and Patrick Datz talk about the ISU men’s golf team.

At last weekend’s D.A. Weibring Invitational, Iowa State had three golfers finish in the top 15. 

One of those golfers was Borja Virto.

Virto, ranked as the second overall junior in his home country of Spain, finished in a tie for fifth overall, carding rounds of 73, 76 and 73.

This was Virto’s first meet of the season. He came to Iowa State in January and, coming from Spain, adjusting to the harsh coldness of Iowa was tough. Playing as a sophomore, though, he impressed both the coaches with his already veteran-like composure.

“Even as a 19-year-old, he’s very far along in his golf game,” Datz said. “I walked with him for the 54 holes, and with the weather being as tough as it was, he buckled down and played great.”

Borja was tied for second after the first day with his round of 73.

Then he faced some adversity as he was struggling on his last round, but he showed signs of an experienced player by birdieing three of his last five holes to come into the clubhouse tied for fifth.

“You’ll see that a lot of players generally start to slip on those last few holes,” Datz said, “but Borja really hung in there in finished strong.”

Also finishing in a tie for fifth was Nate McCoy. McCoy brought in rounds of 78, 74 and 70.

After McCoy claimed medalist honors at the VCU Shootout, he seems to be getting in his zone.

Even with his top five finish this weekend, Tank expressed that McCoy was still not satisfied with how he played.

“He’s such a talented player,” Tank said. “He’d admit that he was still slightly disappointed with this week because he didn’t play his best. And that’s good because even tying for fifth, he wants to get better.”

Tank went on to express confidence in McCoy, mentioning that he’ll be one of those names people will see toward the top of the leaderboard often this year.

Another name that seems to be consistently mentioned is Michael Wuertz. This weekend, Wuertz fired rounds of 78, 75 and 73 to finish in a tie for 15th. Wuertz also finished in a tie for 10th in last week’s VCU Shootout.

“I feel good about the work that Michael’s putting in,” Tank said. “I feel like he’s another player who could win a tournament for us.”

The coaches have discussed Wuertz’s potential with him a few times, and with the past two tournament performances, winning a tournament seems more within reach than ever.

After playing well last weekend, McCoy, Virto and Wuertz will be exempt from this week’s qualifying for next weekend’s meet. As for Nathan Leary, Jacob Aaholm and Tom Lathrop, they will be competing for two spots in the lineup for the next tournament: the Firestone Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.

“I feel good that we’ve got three guys competing for those two spots,” Tank said. “I think that makes everyone better when you have that competition.”

Illinois was the program that took home the team trophy this weekend, and it goes without a surprise when its golfers finished first, second and third.

Illinois has been an elite program for the past few years, and that’s what Tank and Datz are using as a measuring stick.

“At the beginning of the year at the first meet,” Datz said, “we lost by about 38 strokes, and this time we finished down by 28, so we’re making progress.”

Tank echoed his assistant coach’s sentiments on Illinois.

“Illinois has been a strong, strong program lately,” Tank said. “And that’s just where we’re trying to get to, we’re working our way up.”

Things seem to be looking up all the time for Iowa State, and with last weekend’s meet in the books, four different golfers for the Cyclones have finished in the top 10.

“The biggest thing I’m taking from this is that we had another player finish in the top 10,” Tank said. “Now all we need to do is put together three rounds as an entire team, and we’ll be a team to look out for.”