By Jordan Zuniga
Things are winding down for the men’s golf team this season, as it have just two tournaments left before the Big Ten Championships.
This weekend, they will be in Iowa City hosting the 25th annual Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course.
The tournament will start Friday at 1:30 p.m. with the first round, and the final two rounds will take place Saturday, with the second round teeing off at 9 a.m. and the third immediately following the end of the second.
Much like the rest of the state of Iowa, it’s been a cold spring for the Hawkeye golf team, as it has failed to finish top-five in any competition so far this spring.
The Hawkeyes hope that can change this weekend on their home course, and, in order for that to happen, they’re going to need a solid first two rounds.
“In order for us to be successful we’ve got to put ourselves in a position to win in the final round,” coach Tyler Stith said. “We want to get to that last round giving ourselves an opportunity to win.”
Luckily for Iowa, it’s on its home course, which should give them an edge this weekend.
“Golf is a game of confidence,” Stith said. “Being able to host a tournament and play on your home golf course gives players a lot of confidence. It’s a big advantage and one were hoping on capitalizing on.”
Iowa is no stranger to success on its home course; in the 25 years of the Hawkeye Invitational, it has won 14 titles including four of the last eight.
Last year, the Hawkeyes finished in second place just 4 strokes behind Texas Tech. They hope this year can bring some similar success, and maybe even a title.
In order to do that, they will need a big performance from sophomore Alex Schaake, who has been Iowa’s top finisher in all stroke play events this spring. He’s been consistent all year long and currently leads the team in 18-hole average with 71.7, top-10 finishes with 3, and rounds at or below par with nine.
While at the time of writing, Iowa was still competing for the starting five, and Schaake is almost certain to be a part of it.
Iowa will be one of 12 teams competing in the tournament this weekend and will be joined by Arkansas State, Drake, DePaul, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Marquette, Minnesota, Michigan State, Nebraska, South Dakota State, and UMKC.
Because it’s spring in Iowa, weather is never a sure thing, and thunderstorms and more snow is in the forecast for this weekend, which could play a factor.
While there’s a chance the weather forces part of the tournament to be called off completely, it’s also something that all teams might have to play through. Because that’s completely out of the players control, all they have to do is be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them.
“It affects everyone the same,” Stith said. “So we just have to be prepared for whatever the weather brings and recognize it’s going to be tough for everyone in the field.”