Men’s golf finishes first in Big 4 Championships

Jonathan Lowe

The ISU men’s golf team wanted to improve on its performances at the previous two Big 4 Championships.

The Cyclones had finished last in the field that consisted of statewide foes Drake, Iowa and Northern Iowa.

At the end of the 36-hole event, the Cyclones saw much improvement over its last two performances.

Iowa State won the tournament by 9 strokes over Northern Iowa.

“We really played well as a team,” said Iowa State head coach Jay Horton. “It shows that hard work pays off.

“They took their lumps the first two tournaments. We wanted to show the state that we were better than what was thought.”

The tournament win set a benchmark for Horton, who is in his second year as head coach.

“It’s my first collegiate win as a coach,” he said. “So it’s pleasing for me.”

Horton, born and raised in Ames, holds a special connection to this tournament that only an Iowan can feel.

“Coach Horton really stresses how much ISU athletics means to him,” said junior Greg Stephanson. “Beating the likes of a University of Iowa is a huge deal.”

The Cyclones won with a two-round effort of 564. UNI finished at 573 to place runner-up. Iowa was third at 578, and Drake ended with 584 to complete the tournament.

Kevin Oswald shot a one-under par total of 139 to win medalist honors at the tournament. Oswald’s first round 68 tied his career low for 18 holes.

Stephanson was right behind his teammate, completing the event at 140 and taking second place.

Jeremy Lyons shot 143 for Iowa State, while freshman Chad Kovaleski hit 146 strokes at the championship. Corey Schultz had a 147, and Clark Smith ended the Cyclone scoring with a 158.

“The most important person that we need to get going was Kevin,” Stephanson said. “He kind of struggled the first two tournaments and to have him win a tournament is tremendous.”

The team scores of 283 in the first round and 281 in the second rank as two of the top ten team rounds in Cyclone history.

“For such a young team coming up and shooting those kind of numbers, it’s encouraging for the future,” Horton said. “With the way these guys work and their dedication, I see us getting better and better.”

Another bonus for this team was the fact that it had the lead after the first round of the event, holding a two-shot edge over the Panthers.

“It was definitely a nice shot in the arm for these guys,” Horton said. “None of [them] had been in that position before in their college careers and they came out and took control [in the second round].”

Iowa State will now head back to Texas, where it played two weeks ago taking 17th at the Stonebridge Invitational outside of Dallas.

Horton says his team wants to get back to playing as quick as possible.

“We’re going to do what we did last week,” he said. “We’re going to re-establish some goals and see if we can’t put up these same numbers down at Baylor [that we did yesterday].”

As Iowa State begins play after its first team victory of the season, hopes are high for the good play to continue.

“It just feels good to win a tournament as a team,” Stephanson said. “We struggled last year, and this year we hadn’t started out as well as we liked. Hopefully, we can build off of this.”

The Cyclones will compete at the Baylor Invitational in Waco on Oct. 29-30.