Iowa men’s golf wins Spartan Collegiate

A flurry of final-round birdies from sophomore Mac McClear and Alex Schaake propelled the Hawkeyes to victory.


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.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

On the final day of play at the Spartan Collegiate in Sea Island, Georgia, Tuesday afternoon, Iowa men’s golf found itself trailing the event’s leading team by double-digit strokes.

As they began to run out of holes to play, the Hawkeyes made an improbable run to the top of the leaderboard, surging to a 13-under-par team total, besting Notre Dame and Georgia Southern by one shot.

Prior to Tuesday, Iowa hadn’t won a tournament as a team since the 2019 Hawkeye Invitational.

The top two Hawkeye finishers — sophomore Mac McClear, who earned the first individual title of his college career, and senior Alex Schaake, who finished alone in second — propelled Iowa to victory.

“I’ve never seen a finish like that to win a college tournament, to be honest,” head coach Tyler Stith said in a release. “I’m so grateful to have been part of it. We talked [Tuesday] morning about the finishing stretch. We knew our last seven holes were getable. We made a couple of birdies on No. 14, then we just went off.”

Schaake birdied the 14th and McClear pared it. Then, the pair proceeded to birdie holes 16, 17, 18, and two to finish their rounds.

In total, McClear birdied his final five holes to take the tournament crown, and Schaake birdied six of his last seven holes to finish in second behind McClear.

RELATED: Iowa men’s and women’s golf teams set for third tournament of the year

“On 14, I chipped in and I was like ‘Let’s go,’” Schaake said. “Then on 15, I had another chip and I slam-dunked it. It was going 40 feet by, it was not a good chip. It was so bad. And then coach Stith came up to us and goes ‘OK, you have five holes left, every hole is a birdie hole.’ I birdied four of the last five and Mac birdied all five holes in a row to end it.

“That might’ve been the craziest way to finish a golf tournament that I’ve ever seen,” Schaake said. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had on the golf course.”

McClear’s five consecutive birdies helped him card a seven-under-par 65 final round, and a 10-under-par total score for the tournament.

“[During the final stretch], I just remember hitting shots,” McClear said. I wasn’t even really thinking. I was just letting myself go, letting my body do the work, and just trusting myself that I was going to hit good shots. Those last seven or eight holes, I didn’t really miss a shot. It was a really cool little stretch there, something I’ve never done or really seen. It was definitely a lot of fun.”

McClear’s final round 65 is the fifth-lowest 18-hole score in Iowa men’s golf history, and his 206 three-round total is good for fourth-lowest in the University of Iowa record books.

“It’s always nice to get that validation that the work you’re putting in is actually paying off, especially in golf because you win so little of the time and you tend to lose a lot,” McClear said. “It’s always nice to get that winning feeling. You know you’re on the right path and doing the right things.”

“I’m just trying to soak up this win as much as I can and then keep trying to do the same things to get better and hopefully continue with the success, try to get some more wins,” McClear said.