The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Men’s golf braces for stiff competition

Nate Yankovich, Iowa

The men’s golf team will begin postseason play today through April 24 in Newburgh, Indiana, for the Big Ten Championships.

The 54-hole tournament will be played at the Victoria National Golf Club.

The field includes four conferences schools ranked in the top 50 of the GolfWeek/Sagarin rankings. Last year’s Big Ten Tournament champion and second-ranked Illinois will be the favorite. Other top-50 Big Ten schools are Penn State (30), Purdue (31), and Michigan State (46). All 14 members of the Big Ten will compete.

“The Big Ten is good this year with Illinois, Purdue, and Penn State,” senior Nate Yankovich said. “Illinois has some of the top-ranked players in the country. I’m excited to get a piece of them because we haven’t seen them all year.”

Illinois is arguably the toughest team the Hawkeyes will face all season, and head coach Tyler Stith is excited about the challenge.

“Illinois is having a great season. Coach [Mike] Small is doing a great job,” Stith said. “They’re extremely deep. We competed with them a year ago, and I know our guys are looking forward to the challenge.”

To contend with the best, the Hawkeyes need to manage their mistakes. At last season’s Big Ten Tournament the Hawkeyes were able to do just that and finish second.

“We want to put ourselves in contention like we did a year ago,” Stith said. “Last year, we got off to a good start. [This year], we need to have a good practice round, get ourselves off to a good start, and get in contention on Sunday.”

In order to be in a winning position, the Hawkeyes will count on veterans Yankovich, Carson Schaake, and Raymond Knoll.

Schaake led the Hawkeyes in last year’s event, finishing tied for first. The junior is coming off a 10th-place finish at the April 16-Sunday Hawkeye Invitational.

Knoll has been Iowa’s top finisher twice this season, and the Naperville, Illinois, native’s play has been improving as the season has progressed. He finished 13th at the Hawkeye Invitational last weekend.

It has sparked Knoll’s confidence, but he knows he needs to avoid as many mistakes as possible because of the stiffer competition.

“As a team, just limiting bogeys and mistakes will be crucial,” he said. “I only had one double-bogey [at Hawkeye Invitaional], which is better than I’ve done this whole spring season.”

Yankovich has produced three top-10 finishes this season after only having two in the previous three seasons combined.

The Blacklick, Ohio, native has been on fire lately; he had a career-best third place at the Hawkeye Invitational. He also averages 71.96 strokes per round this year, which leads the team.

This will be Yankovich’s last Big Ten tournament. He appreciates the memories of conference play, but he recognizes a solid finish will help the Hawkeyes’ chances of qualifying for NCAA regional.

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