Men’s golf faces tough tournament


Freshman Matthew Walker will try to continue to provide a spark.
By Connor Sindberg
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After a decent start to the season, the Iowa men’s golf team anticipates better scoring and continued individual and team progress at the ASU Thunderbird InvitationalSaturday and April 3. The event will begin with 36 holes and conclude with 18 more holes at the Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Arizona.

The field includes three teams ranked in the top 25 of the coaches’ poll, Arizona State (7), California (15), and San Diego State (22), while Iowa heads into the tournament at No. 66. The rest of field includes Cal Poly, Hawaii, Iowa State, Minnesota, Princeton, San Diego, Santa Clara, South Dakota State, and Cal-Davis.

With three highly teams ranked, head coach Tyler Stith knows the tournament will prepare the team for the championship competitions coming up.

“The field is strong; it’s a golf course we’ve played a couple times,” he said. “It’s a golf course where we can make a lot of birdies and shoot some low scores. Playing well is going to be important for this week and moving forward to Big Tens.”

Not only does Stith want to see some progress individually, but he wants the Hawks to be in the running during Sunday’s final round.

“I would love to get into the last group,” he said. “We haven’t played in the last group since the fall [season]. I think if we take care of ourselves on Saturday and put ourselves in a position to win on Sunday, I would be extremely pleased with that.”

Getting to the final group will be no easy task, especially when competing against some of the top teams in the nation. But the Hawkeyes have experience and confidence carrying over from last season with a sixth-place finish.

This weekend, the Hawks will  have an idea about the kind of scores they’ll need to put up.

Mathew Walker is one  Hawkeye who will not have the same experience as his teammates. But so far in his freshman season, the lack of experience hasn’t bothered Walker.

In his first competition of the season, the Feb. 12-13 Big Ten Match Play, the Ottumwa native finished with 4-0 record. Walker, now a regular in the team lineup, also finished 57th in the March 18-21 Schenkel Invitational.

“Matt is someone that had an outstanding junior record,” Stith said. “The adjustment from junior to college is always difficult, but he’s someone who works extremely hard and gets more comfortable in each tournament he plays in. We’re just starting to see the beginning of what he’s capable of.”

Junior Raymond Knoll has also been successful; he has been the top finisher for the Hawkeyes twice this season.

He was the top performer last time out at Schenkel, finishing 37th. This weekend, Knoll is optimistic that he will continue his season with another solid finish. But he also believes he needs to clean up some simple mistakes.

“I want more consistency this weekend,” Knoll said. “I need to avoid big numbers like double bogeys and try to limit my bogeys.”

Follow @csindberg32 on Twitter for Iowa men’s golf news, updates, and analysis.


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