Senior leads men’s golf to first team victory since 2011


Senior golfer Sam Daley works on his swing at practice on April 14.

Mike Randleman

For a team searching for its first victory since 2011, the ISU men’s golf team would have taken a win wherever it could have found one.

To beat an in-state rival in the process only sweetened the deal for No. 42 Iowa State on April 19.

The Cyclones broke a 1,267-day winless spell by posting a 17-under-par total of 847 to finish five shots ahead of No. 77 Idaho and six ahead of No. 42 Iowa at the Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational in Iowa City.

“It adds a little bit of importance,” said senior Sam Daley of winning in Iowa City. “The rivalry’s obviously richer than a golf game, too, but the Hawkeyes have some nice guys on the team that we’re friends with because we’ve seen them so much. Even though we’re friends, it’s still nice to beat their bums.”

Iowa State’s victory was of the traditional 54-hole variety, unlike its win at the 2011 Bridgestone Golf Collegiate, which was cut short at 36 holes due to inclement weather.

“When we found out we won [in 2011], we were all ecstatic and stuff, but I think this one’s more special,” Daley said. “The group we have here is pretty special to me and to Iowa State golf. We also beat Iowa in the final round at their course and we learned we we’re good enough to win with this team.”

Daley, who has surged at the end of the season with a pair of runner-up finishes, was at the core of Iowa State’s victory.

After a three-over-par stretch in his first 11 holes in round one, Daley carded only one bogey in his final 43 holes. His turnaround culminated in a bogey-free final round of 6-under-par 66, which vaulted him to second place for the tournament at 9 under par.

Another player who not only knows Finkbine Golf Course but has had success there, is fellow senior Scott Fernandez. The Spaniard has had machine-like consistency at this event, placing no worse than fifth in his career in Iowa City after tying for fourth place at 6 under par this year.

“I’m not sure that it’s necessarily the course,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank on Fernandez’ performances in Iowa City. “It just says a lot about Scott’s abilities as a player. I think there’s always a little motivation to play well against your in-state rival. He’s just risen to the occasion every year to do that.”

Sophomore Ruben Sondjaja missed last year’s event with appendicitis, but made a splash in his Iowa City debut. He struggled in the final round with a 74, but rounds of 69 and 70 on day one were enough to place Sondjaja in a tie for 10th at the tournament’s end.

With three Cyclones in the top 10 for the first time this season, Iowa State received a near complete performance and had at least one qualifying score contributed by all five starters.

Though this week was a breakthrough for Iowa State in terms of notching a victory, Tank said his team’s performance at the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational on April 4 was where he began to see his team hit its stride. Iowa State ran up against a buzzsaw in falling to No. 3 Arizona State on its home course, but took runner-up against a field filled with NCAA tournament teams.

“A lot of it depends on who you’re competing against,” Tank said. “I thought we played pretty solid at Arizona State and we finished second. This week we came out on top. Some of it’s out of our control, but it’s definitely a nice way to finish off the season before we head to the Big 12 Championship.”

The Big 12 Championship, Iowa State’s next event, is set for April 27 to 29 in Tulsa, Okla., at Southern Hills Golf Country Club.