Scott Fernandez finds triumph in Tucson after seven-shot win


Richard Martinez/Iowa State Dail

Scott Fernandez, senior from Spain, warms up for practice at Iowa State’s golf performance facility south of campus. The men’s golf team prepared for the Badger Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, making it the first Big 10 tournament the team will play on the road this season. Iowa State placed second overall with a score of 872, just one stroke behind winners Same Houston State with 871.

Mike Randleman

For much of the day, medalist honors at the National Invitational Tournament were up for grabs for a host of golfers. Then Scott Fernandez slammed the door.

What began as a tightly-contested medalist race turned into a rout as Fernandez parlayed four consecutive birdies on the back nine into a seven-shot victory.

“Each win is special,” Fernandez said of his second victory of the season. “I’ve never won a tournament like that before and I’m really happy that I ended up on top in this one. I think I just made some nice shots when I needed and made some putts at the right times.”

ISU coach Andrew Tank, who walked alongside Fernandez for all 54 holes, said it was the senior’s most dominating performance of a career that features four victories.

“To win by seven shots and just the way he did it, he made it look so easy,” Tank said. “This is by far his best victory as a collegiate player.”

Two of his three career wins were one-shot victories and the other was a co-victory. In his first win of the season, Fernandez was out of contention until a final-round 66 led to a surprise victory at the Badger Invitational in September.

In the past, Fernandez had to hang on to victory. This time, he got to soak it in.

“I knew I had a cushion on the last few holes, so I kind of enjoyed it versus being in contention,” Fernandez said. “It was a bit more relaxing. I didn’t know the score, but I knew I had a bit of a cushion. Coming down the stretch, I was a bit more relaxed.”

Even with a bogie on his last hole of the day, No. 9 on the Catalina Course at OMNI Tucson National, his reign at the top was not jeopardized.

While Fernandez took some time to enjoy success on the final few holes, his mindset and precision that came before it helped him hold a lead for much of the event and was what impressed Tank the most.

“He was in third place after the first round, so he was near the lead or leading for the whole event,” Tank said. “His experience and maturity showed in the sense that he didn’t change his game plan and he just remained calm throughout the whole three rounds.”

Fernandez’s patience played to his advantage, but Tank said a lack of patience and faulty decision-making led to what he described as a ‘ho-hum’ team performance, which saw the Cyclones finish in fifth place out of 15 teams.

“We’ve got six really good players and we just, for a few different reasons, aren’t playing well as a group,” Tank said. “We’ve had three wins individually this year and we’ve had a few good rounds. We just need to make some better decisions and get all five guys playing like they’re capable of.”

In the final round, No. 50 Iowa State showed signs of the performance that Tank would like to see. By posting a one-under-par team score of 287, the Cyclones moved up six spots and posted the second-lowest round of the day, behind only California, which won by 15 shots.

Freshman Nick Voke rebounded from rounds of 77 and 74 to post a three-under-par round of 69, tied for the best individual round of the day.

“A lot of coaches came up to us and congratulated us,” Fernandez said. “[The course] wasn’t playing easy today with the wind and the tough conditions. This is more our style versus the other two days.”

The Cyclones will have a chance to build on their low final round as they face a quick turnaround before their next tournament. Next up for Iowa State is the General Hackler Championship, the third of three tournaments in three weeks. It is scheduled for March 9 and 10 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.