Iowa's Alex Schaake drives during a tournament at the Donald Ross Course at the Cedar Rapids Country Club in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

A numerical approach to Hawkeye golf

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A look at some strengths and weaknesses for the Hawkeye golfers heading into the Big Ten Championships this weekend.

By Jordan Zuniga

jordan-zuniga@uiowa.edu

Finals are right around the corner at the University of Iowa, which means the golf season is on the back nine.

The women turned in their score cards this weekend for the final time after finishing 12th in the Big Ten Championships, while the men prepare for their Big Ten Championships this weekend.

With the men preparing for their conference showdown, hoping to stretch their NCAA regional appearance streak to a full decade, now seems like an appropriate time to see what the numbers say about the Hawkeyes’ strengths and weaknesses.

Strength: Alex Schaake

For the men, one thing — or, rather, one golfer — seems to be the catalyst for Iowa’s success: Alex Schaake.

All season, fall and spring, the success of the Hawkeyes rested on the clubs of Schaake.

In the 10 tournaments Iowa competed in as a team, it finished in the top half of the competition five times. Each and every one of those matches had one thing in common: Schaake finishing in the top six.

More evidence that this was indicative of a trend was that those five times were also the only times Schaake had top-six finishes.

RELATED: Walker, Ip highlight weekend for Iowa golf

Problem: Final Round

One problem the men seem to have is the final round of tournaments. While the strong finish at the Kepler Invitational last week is promising, it hasn’t been the norm for the Hawkeyes.

In the first two rounds, they average around 290 swings per round. In the final round, the Hawkeyes add an extra 2 strokes to their score.

Two strokes may not seem like a large difference, but in close tournaments, 2 strokes can make a world of a difference.

Take the Windon Memorial during the fall season for example. Iowa entered the third round in second place, but after a dismal final round, the Hawkeyes wound up seventh.

While 2 strokes wouldn’t have made up for the poor performance in the final round, 2 fewer strokes would have put the Hawkeyes tied for fifth, always better than seventh.

Secret Weapon: Benton Weinberg

There’s no doubt whether Matthew Walker and Schaake have been a substantial one-two punch for the Hawkeyes this season.

One golfer who may have gotten lost behind their golf bags, however, is sophomore Benton Weinberg.

Schaake (71.56) and Walker (73) have the best and second-best averages on the season, but right behind Walker is Weinberg with an average of 73.7.

He is also third on the team with seven rounds at or below par this season.

He may only have one top-20 finish this season, which puts him fourth on the team, but that’s because he’s been consistent.

In order for the Hawkeyes to be successful this upcoming weekend at the Big Ten tourney, they’re going to need Schaake and Walker to be at their best, but they’re also going to need another solid performance from Weinberg.

The Big Ten Championships will be played in Baltimore Friday through April 29.

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