Iowa men’s golf finishes seventh at inaugural Calusa Cup

Senior Alex Schaake finished the tournament in a tie for fifth place on the individual leaderboard.


Joseph Cress

Iowa’s Alex Schaake putts during a tournament at the Donald Ross Course at the Cedar Rapids Country Club in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

After his opening round of 76 at the inaugural Calusa Cup in Naples, Florida, Sunday, Iowa men’s golf senior Alex Schaake sat in 31st place — just 16 spots shy of last place in the 47-man field.

His 4-over-par round one performance at the Hawkeye-hosted event at Calusa Pines Golf Club was the fourth-best score registered by an Iowa men’s golfer on Sunday.

Despite his first-round struggles, Schaake did not give up, posting superior scores in the second and third rounds.

On Sunday, the Omaha, Nebraska, native carded just two birdies. In rounds two and three, Schaake made four and six birdies, respectively.

Schaake’s round-two scorecard featured four bogeys in addition to the four birdies he made — good for an even-par 72.

In round three, the 2019 Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Year’s scorecard was much cleaner.

Schaake registered just one final-round bogey on top of his six birdies, netting a five-under-par 67. The score launched Schaake up the individual leaderboard from a tie for 20th position to tie for fifth place.

“The thing that was working for me today was I made some great putts,” Schaake said of his third round in a release. “I didn’t really miss too many putts inside 10 feet, which is huge here.”

Schaake’s third-round score tied the lowest mark any player hit throughout the three-day event.

“That is an unreal round on this course,” head coach Tyler Stith said of Schaake’s final round in a release. “We have seen him do that time and time again. Alex, today, showed that he can compete with the best players in the country.”

None of Iowa’s other competitors placed inside the tournament’s top 25. But all the Hawkeyes’ individual scores improved with each passing day.

Making the largest jump was sophomore Mac McClear, who shot a 2-under-par 70 Tuesday after a 7-over-par 79 Monday.

Despite their seventh-place finish as a team, Stith and the Hawkeyes believe the experience they gained from playing at the Calusa Cup will help them as the 2020-21 season continues.

“I think when we look back at this week, it will be a good learning experience for us,” Stith said in a release. “We were able to play three rounds on a tough golf course. This will help us in the Big Ten Championships and in the postseason. We will use this as a learning opportunity, spend a couple of weeks back home getting ready for our home event, and continue working on getting ready for the postseason.”

All six teams that finished ahead of Iowa are ranked inside Golfstat’s top 50, including the tournament’s winner, No. 2 Oklahoma. The Sooners won the first-ever Calusa Cup with a 5-under-par 859 score, finishing five shots ahead of second-place Georgia Tech and six shots clear of third-place Florida State.

No. 2 John Pak of Florida State was the Calusa Cup’s individual champion.

Iowa men’s golf will return to the links in two weeks for the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City.

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