Cyclone senior golfer carries team to NCAA Championship bid


Richard Martinez / Iowa State Daily

Freshmen Ruben Sondjaja, right, and Nick Voke, left, go through practice shots as the Iowa State men’s golf team begins to prepare for upcoming tournaments. As the colder weather begins to subside, providing favorable conditions on the green, coach Andrew Tank lead the team through their first practice of the season at the Coldwater Golf Links southeast of campus.

Aaron Marner

When Iowa State entered Wednesday’s round of the NCAA golf Regional in Austin, Texas, everyone knew it needed to finish in the top five to qualify for the NCAA Championship in Sugar Grove, Illinois at the end of May.

Sitting in fourth place, the team was in solid position, but the Cyclones needed a big Wednesday to secure a bid.

And boy, did they get a big Wednesday, thanks in large part to senior Nick Voke.

Voke entered Wednesday in second place individually behind Texas golfer Doug Ghim. Ghim entered the tournament ranked No. 9 individually by Golfweek, and a couple other golfers who were near the top of the field — such as Braden Thornberry of Ole Miss and Will Zalatoris of Wake Forest — are in Golfweek’s top 10.

Voke, who entered the tournament at No. 79 by Golfweek, wasn’t fazed.

“He had an unfortunate injury in his freshman year and missed out on playing in the NCAA Regional, which was the year we advanced to NCAAs,” coach Andrew Tank said. “I was thinking about that today, knowing this was his chance to make it to nationals.”

Voke started Wednesday strong, putting together two birdies in the first four holes. After a birdie on the par-five ninth hole, Voke turned to the back-nine at four strokes under par.

Holes 10 through 16 are what distanced Voke from the rest of the pack.

He birdied 10 and 11, two holes on which he failed to get better than par in the first two days of the tournament.

He followed that up with a solid par on the par three 12th hole.

Holes 13 and 14 had been up-and-down for Voke in the first two days. He had recorded two birdies, a double bogey and a par on those holes in rounds one and two.

Wednesday, Voke got the better of 13 and 14.

Voke birdied 13 and recorded his first eagle of the tournament on the par-five 14. This put Voke at 13-under for the tournament and gave him a huge lead on Ghim and his Texas teammate, Scottie Scheffler.

“All of a sudden after 14 holes, I’m nine-under,” Voke said. “I pulled my 3-wood on the par-four 15, and I had to chop it out of the hazard. I had about 100 yards left and hit it to within 5-feet and then holed that putt. That was a huge momentum par there.”

When it was all said and done, Voke had finished with a program-record 10-under par score of 61. That 61 also happened to be a UT Golf Course record, which snapped the previous record of 65.

“I was thinking I had a chance at a 59,” Voke said. “But I just missed a putt on 17 and had an up-and-down save at 18. I can’t complain.”

Voke’s performance was tied for the second-best score recorded in all of NCAA golf this year.

“Nick Voke’s 61 was spectacular,” Tank said. “I had a front row seat, which I was fortunate to have. He’s that kind of a player. He is explosive. He can come out and shoot those kind of scores.”

Thanks to Voke, Iowa State easily qualified for the NCAA Championship, finishing 18 strokes ahead of sixth place. The Cyclones finished third at the Austin Regional behind No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Texas.

“These days are few and far between,” Voke said. “I knew my game was trending and this could be coming. To come up with a round like this in the Regional is something pretty special.”