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Three Big Takeaways: Cyclone men’s golf finishes fifth at Fighting Irish Classic

Tyler Coe
Zachary May tees off at the Hawkeye Invitational on April 14, 2023.

Coming off a hot performance at the Zach Johnson Invitational, the Iowa State men’s golf team looked to make a statement as it headed to South Bend, Indiana, for the Fighting Irish Classic.

The Fighting Irish Classic marked only the second out-of-state tournament for the team this season, with the Cyclones’ only prior experience coming at the Gopher Invitational in Independence, Minnesota.

The Gopher Invitational had been the worst performance by the team to that point, leading some fans to believe that they were not exactly acclimated to performing out of state. 

The Cyclones started the tournament off hot but could not keep the momentum rolling as they fell to fifth place.

A bright future for the Cyclones

Despite a down performance for the usual leader and top performer, junior Luke Gutschewski, the underclassmen managed to pull some of their best performances of the young season. Dianchao Wu and Owen Sawyer, both freshmen, managed to put up solid performances. 

Through the first round, Iowa State managed to maintain a lead, despite an uncharacteristic performance from Gutschewski. However, Wu pulled out a 68-round, putting him in a tie for sixth place overall after the first round.

That sixth-place finish in round one was Wu’s best performance of the season. After day one, Sawyer put himself into 15th place overall. If those performances are a sign of things to come for the freshmen, both may have bright futures ahead. 

The Fighting Irish Classic may not have been an overall bright spot on the season, however, it showed that the younger members of the team are reliable when the usual top performers are off their game. 

The usual leaderboard of Cyclone finishers was flipped on its head, but it allowed a better look at the underlooked talent on the roster. If one thing showed up in South Bend, it was certainly the ability for the team to step up when needed. 

Back to Earth

As a team, the Cyclones have turned in fantastic performances thus far, but also lower-bar performances than they would have liked. However, the Cyclones have yet to finish last place. The fifth-place finish was a significant step up from the other tournament on the road.

Consistency has been a problem this season. Dropping down the rankings was not necessarily a great look for a team that finished at the top of its last tournament. The Cyclones are talented but still inconsistent. 

Through the first two rounds of the Fighting Irish Classic, both of which occurred Sunday, the Cyclones put themselves into a fourth-place spot among fourteen total teams. Additionally, not a single Cyclone managed to place in the top-10 for day one, with Zach May sitting closest at 11th.

Come the second round, however, the Cyclones performed worse. The team had lost their former first-place spot and slid down to fifth. Sawyer and May were the highest finishers for the team, tying for 18th place in the second round. Gutschewski began a climb back, finishing third for the team.

Just enough

After day one in Indiana, the team looked below their average performance for the season. Day two did not fare much better as the team finished in fifth place behind Tennessee, Indiana, Northwestern and Notre Dame. 

Their placement is nothing to scoff at, but it did not match previous performances. The Cyclones shot 276 for round one, 289 for round two and a 278 for round three resulting in a total of 843. 

The team also did not manage to produce a top-10 finisher, with May closest at a tie for 11th. 

The momentum was halted quickly and it looked to be the time to regroup before it comes time to face some bigger competition. 

Next week, the Cyclone men’s golf team will again take to the road in Big 12 match play. The team will tee off Monday and finish on Oct. 11 in Hockley, Texas. 

This match will mark the end of the fall golf season, which will continue Jan. 29, 2024. 

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