Senior Alex Schaake and the Iowa men’s golf team will have one simple goal in mind when they tee it up at this weekend’s Big Ten Match Play Championships at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida – win.
Although the tournament will mark the first time the Hawkeyes have competed in an event as a team since the Colleton River Collegiate on March 2 and 3, 2020, both Schaake and head coach Tyler Stith believe Iowa is more than ready to begin the shortened 2020-21 season.
Multiple Iowa players traveled to warm-weather destinations during the long winter break and played in events to keep their games sharp.
“We had a lot of guys play some tournaments over the winter break,” Schaake said. “Me and Benton [Weinberg] traveled to Arizona so we got out of the cold weather quite a bit. I would say we probably played more golf than any other team here over the last few months, so that’s a huge advantage, just to get out there and swing and not lose any momentum that we had from summer.”
Even though a few Iowa golfers participated in fall tournaments this year as individuals because team events were prohibited by the Big Ten, Stith said his golfers are happy to be competing together again.
“At the end of the day, [golf] is an individual sport but we have this team component to it,” Stith said. “I know this group is close and they love playing for each other and they love playing for Iowa. They have a lot of pride.”
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Iowa — the fifth seed in the event — will play against Nebraska in the first round, and the winner of that match will face Penn State in the tournament’s quarterfinals.
At the Big Ten Match Play, each team will have five players competing and each player will have a one-on-one match against a player from another team. Each individual win will count as a point for the winning team.
Schaake will compete alongside Weinberg, junior Gonzalo Leal Montero, sophomore Mac McClear, and graduate transfer Charles Jahn.
Jahn, a Sperry, Iowa, native, who redshirted during his final year at Bradley before coming to Iowa City, hasn’t played in a collegiate golf event since April 23, 2019. In his last appearance with the Braves, he shot a four-under-par final round of 68 at the Missouri Valley Conference Championship, tying a career-best.
“I’m not worried about [Jahn’s] golf game at all,” Stith said. “He’s a super-talented kid, he had success at Bradley, he’s had success in amateur tournaments. I know he’s got game. He was born and raised a Hawkeye, so it’s a dream come true for him to be able to play for Iowa. I’m just really happy for him.”
If Schaake, Jahn, and the rest of the Hawkeyes play like Schaake thinks they’re capable of, Iowa should challenge the likes of defending champion Northwestern and second-seeded Minnesota for a trophy at the season’s first event.
Iowa finished last year’s iteration of the Big Ten Match Play with a 3-1 record, losing to Northwestern but defeating Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue.