Iowa men’s golf finishes third out of 14 teams at Fighting Irish Classic

With the help of sophomore Gonzalo Leal Montero and senior Alex Schaake, the Hawkeyes improved their fall season record at Notre Dame.


Hannah Kinson

Gonzalo Leal putts during a golf invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Iowa came in first with a score of 593 against 12 other teams.

Cassandra Buchholz, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s golf team finished in third place at the Fighting Irish Classic hosted by Notre Dame over the weekend. 

The Hawkeyes finished with a carded 855 (+3) for three rounds, surpassing Arizona State by eight strokes. No. 17 Notre Dame and No. 10 North Carolina finished in first and second place, respectively.

Improvement was shown by sophomore Gonzalo Leal Montero, who shot his career-best in a final round, carding 66 (-5) and finishing the weekend tied for 23rd with 214 (+1).

“[I am] very happy for the team,” Leal Montero said. “This proves how hard we have worked the last few weeks. We knew we didn’t play great at our first two tournaments, but we knew it was a matter of time.”

Leal Montero’s final round 66 ties for the fifth-lowest stroke in 18-holes in program history.

“Today, my ball striking felt better than yesterday,” he said. “I hit 16 greens and have been feeling pretty good and solid with my putting. It wasn’t my best week, but [I’m] proud of how I fought back after the first round.”

Iowa head coach Tyler Stith noticed how Leal Montero improved his game as the rounds progressed. By the final round, Leal Montero was locked in.

“It was a great round for (him),” Stith said. “Yesterday he struggled with his ball striking, but he managed to post 70. That gave him a lot of confidence heading to the final round and today he put it all together.”

Playing well in his Hawkeye debut, freshman Mac McClear led the team in the second round, carding 67 (-4), and finishing tied for 23rd with teammate Leal Montero at 214 (+1).

Senior Alex Schaake continued his run as the Hawkeyes’ top-finisher for the third straight tournament. The Omaha, Nebraska native finished Tuesday even-par and tied for 13th with 212 (-1). He recorded two even-par rounds and four birdies in his season-best tournament.

Potomac, Maryland, native senior Benton Weinberg continued a good run, falling even-par on Tuesday and finishing tied for 37th carding 219 (+6) for the weekend. 

Junior Joe Kim finished the weekend tied at 52nd out of the 81-player tournament. He was consistent through rounds, shooting six-above-par (223) in his seventh tournament appearance. 

Coach Stith sees the shift in his team, and knows it can only go up from here.

RELATED: Seniors Alex Schaake and Benton Weinberg look back at their colligate careers

“A top-three finish is solid in this field of teams,” he said. “It’s definitely a confidence boost, but there’s always room for improvement. We learned a lot this week, we’re working on the correct things, and trending in the right direction.” 

The team finished fourth in total pars (165), fourth in par four scoring (4.12), and fifth in total birdies (45). Iowa was the leader for Big Ten schools, surpassing Rutgers (T-4th place), Michigan State (11th place), and Michigan (12th place). The Hawkeyes also carded better than Iowa State, who finished in 8th place with 866 (+14). 

Led by Benton Weinberg (T-10; +5) and Alex Schaake (T-12; +6), Iowa will finish its fall season at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas.