ISU men’s golf team heads to North Carolina for fall finale short handed


Ruben Sondjaja, junior in management, poses for a portrait Wednesday, Sept. 30 at the ISU Golf Performance Center in Ames, Iowa. Sondjaja will be Iowa State’s No. 1 starter at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate on Oct. 25-26 due to the absence of Nick Voke, who is representing New Zealand at the Nomura Cup.

Mike Randleman

The motto of ‘next man up’ is not commonly ascribed to golf, a sport where injuries and absences are few and far between.

Nonetheless, the motto rings true for the ISU men’s golf team this week as it heads to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate to conclude the fall portion of its schedule.

No. 80/86 (Golfstat/Golfweek) Iowa State will be without the services of its leader Nick Voke, who has risen to No. 68 in the Golfweek individual rankings thanks to a pair of top-three finishes in two of his three starts.

While his teammates head to the tree-lined confines of the Grandover Resort East Course for the tournament, Voke will be competing along with three other New Zealanders at the Asia-Pacific Team Championship — also known as the Nomura Cup, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“It’s unfortunate [for us], but it’s a great experience for Nick to play in the Nomura Cup,” said assistant coach Chad Keohane. “It’ll be a loss to not have him, but it’s a good chance for the other guys to step up. It’s just the next man up.”

Keohane specifically referred to Jon Hudson and Conner Koberg, a pair of freshmen looking to make a splash in what will be their second stint in the starting lineup and third tournament appearance in total.

Through six rounds, Hudson owns a 77.8 stroke average and his best tournament finish is a tie for 46th. Koberg has recorded a 79.6 stroke average and his best finish is 69th place.

One of the two has been squeezed out of the starting lineup in each of the team’s three events, but with the absence of Voke, both have equal chances to impress Keohane and head coach Andrew Tank before competition ceases until January.

“It’s always good to get young guys tournament experience,” said junior Jack Carter. “I learned a lot when I was a freshman and sophomore, whether playing in the fifth spot or as an individual, it just made me a better player. It’ll be good for the team.”

Carter, along with Hudson and Koberg, has yet to play the Grandover Resort East Course. But fellow starters Ruben Sondjaja and Collin Foster have experience there from 2013 — when they tied for 21st and 68th, respectively — in an event shortened to two rounds due to inclement weather.

Sondjaja’s particular memory of the course was admittedly fuzzy, but knowing he will be up against a long, tree-lined course where driving the golf ball comes at a premium is enough to instill confidence in Sondjaja. 

“I like that. I like a lot of tree line,” Sondjaja said. “When there are a lot of trees, I can really visualize the shot, and I’m able to hit them. I’m able to zone in better.”

If things go according to plan for Sondjaja, Iowa State’s No. 2 starter with a 74.7 stroke average (compared to 72.0 for Voke), Iowa State could notch its first significant victory of the season.

As a whole, Iowa State’s cumulative record is 19-17-2, but the Cyclones are 0-3 against teams currently in Golfweek’s top 25 and 0-9 against the top 50.

No. 12 North Carolina and No. 21 Purdue headline the field that features eight top-100 teams. North Carolina returns to defend its 2014 team title and Ben Griffin, also of North Carolina, will defend his individual title.

Play will begin on Sunday with 36 holes and will conclude with an 18-hole finish on Monday.