Iowa men’s golf places third at Gopher Invitational

Led by the stellar play of Matthew Walker and Alex Schaake, the men’s team placed highest in coach Tyler Stith’s Hawkeye career at the Gopher Invitational.

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Iowa men’s golf places third at Gopher Invitational

Iowa's Alex Schaake watches a ball fly during the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Iowa's Alex Schaake watches a ball fly during the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Joseph Cress

Iowa's Alex Schaake watches a ball fly during the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Joseph Cress

Joseph Cress

Iowa's Alex Schaake watches a ball fly during the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Jack McFarland, Sports Reporter

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After two rounds of play at the Gopher Invitational in Independence, Minnesota, the Iowa men’s golf team placed third of 16, its best finish under head coach Tyler Stith. The Hawkeyes finished 4 shots behind No. 2 Oklahoma and 1 behind No. 13 Texas.

Senior Matthew Walker, who finished fifth, led the Hawkeyes with a 210. The rest of the team shot substantially better than every other team in the competition.

Alex Schaake nearly matched Walker, shooting a 211 and tying for sixth. Freshman Gonzalo Leal Montero shot a solid 216 in his college début, tying for 18th with junior Benton Weinberg right behind with a 217, tying for 23rd. Alex Moorman finished with a 221, tying for 44th. The team’s score wound up at 851.

Walker shot the best round in the entire field on Monday, 5-under.

When it came to par 4s, the Hawkeyes excelled, leading the invitational with an average of 4.05 strokes per hole. Par 5s were not much of a hassle, either, for the Hawkeyes. They averaged 4.78 strokes per par 5, good enough for second.

The Hawkeyes hit the ball really well when they needed to, picking their shots carefully and letting the ball fly a little more than usual. In turn, they racked up the second most birdies in the competition behind Oklahoma. In one instance, Walker was responsible for 1 of the 6 eagles in the invitational.

Schaake’s performance on par 3s was exceptional along with Walker’s on par 4s. Schaake took an average of 2.92 shots on par 3s, putting him eighth. Walker shot an average of 3.97 on par 4s, tied for fifth. Both of their strong performances were key in keeping the Hawkeyes’ score low.

Next, the Hawkeyes will set their eyes on their state début at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Cedar Rapids. The team hopes to carry its strong start into next week’s challenge and take advantage of familiarity with the course.