In-Voke-ing greatness: ISU men’s golfer wins in South Carolina

Mike Randleman

It wasn’t The Master’s green jacket or The Open Championship’s Claret Jug, but the trophy adorned with a 2-foot alligator was just fine for Nick Voke.

Voke’s reptilian hardware was a result of the co-medalist title he earned at the Myrtle Beach Holiday General Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Tuesday.

Voke found the winner’s circle for the second time this season, but his expression exiting the 18th hole after a troublesome closing stretch might have told otherwise.

“I knew I was in contention, I holed a really good putt from 12 feet on the 16th hole and I thought I was there or thereabouts [to the lead],” Voke said. “So bogey-bogey finish, I thought I wouldn’t win, to be honest. I thought I had been close, maybe top-five somewhere. I was obviously ecstatic to see the result and where I finished.”

Just being in the mix for a title was an achievement in its own right after a challenging opening round.

Voke began the event with a three-over-par round of 75 and faced an eight-shot deficit with 36 holes to go.

With the help of assistant coach Chad Keohane to keep the mood light, Voke made it a point to stay patient when in past events, it may not have been so easy.

“He played pretty well in the [first round] and just didn’t get the bounces and didn’t get the putts to fall,” said ISU coach Andrew Tank. “I think in the past he would have gotten frustrated and forced things. He didn’t do that and allowed himself to play some really good golf the last 17 holes.”

Voke’s plan paid off en route to a seven-under-par round of 65, which resulted in a laundry list of achievements: The Dunes Club course record, a tie for lowest score in school history in relation to par and one shot away from the school’s lowest 18-hole score.

“I bogied the first hole, I was four-over through 19 holes and then I just got on track in a way,” Voke said of his round that featured seven birdies and an eagle. “I holed a few putts for par and all of a sudden it just clicked. Man, I was just rolling in birdies from everywhere.”

The third round did not render the same scorching results, but Voke had at least a share of the lead for most of the final round until his blunder on holes 17 and 18 resulted in a tie at the top with Joey Petronio of North Florida and Zach Seabolt of Winthrop at four-under-par.

Tournament officials declared Petronio, Seabolt and Voke co-champions, but if a playoff was in the cards, Voke was ready to go.

“If they gave me the option, I would’ve taken it without a doubt,” Voke said. “I think being in the playoff with everything on the line would be the coolest thing you can do on the golf course.”

The three-way tie at the top also almost featured Iowa State’s Scott Fernandez.

Coming off of a win at the National Invitational Tournament on March 2, Fernandez was seeking his second straight victory until a pair of double-bogies derailed a pace similar to Voke’s and resulted in a tie for fourth place, three shots off the pace.

“It’s good to be back in the mix for the individual title, I started the day two shots off,” Fernandez said. “I had a good attitude, I played well all week. Today, I wasn’t as good with the driver, so I dropped a couple shots off the tee. I made some good putts, but I had a couple three-putts. Overall, I’m happy to be near the top again.”

Also near the top was No. 47/55 (Golfweek/Golfstat) Iowa State in the team portion of the event.

The Cyclones finished in third place out of 15 teams and 15 shots off of the pace set by champion No. 27/25 North Florida.

At tournament’s end, Tank said he was proud to see Voke notch the team’s fourth individual medalist honors, but a lack of production from the rest of the lineup continued to be a trouble spot in his eyes.

“My message will just be to keep doing what they’re doing and take confidence from the fact that teammates they’re playing with and competing against everyday are competing and winning these events,” Tank said. “There’s no reason that any one of them shouldn’t be able to put themselves in that position, as well.”