Schaake leads Iowa men’s golf to first-day lead at Hawkeye Invitational

The 2019 Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Year fired rounds of 65 and 68 on Saturday to take the lead in the individual competition and propel his team to the top of the tournament’s leaderboard.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s Alex Schaake drives the ball during the men’s golf Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at Finkbine Golf Course.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Prior to this weekend’s Hawkeye Invitational, Iowa senior golfer Alex Schaake predicted that the tournament’s participants would post low scores should the weather cooperate as it did the last time the event was played in 2019.

At the 2019 Hawkeye Invitational, Iowa posted a program-record three-round team score of 43-under-par.

Schaake and his then-teammate Matthew Walker split the 2019 Hawkeye Invitational title, as both golfers shot 14-under-par.

Although the Hawkeyes may not reach the 43-under-par mark they hit in 2019, they’ve still put themselves in position to win 2021 Hawkeye Invitational.

After two rounds of action Saturday, Iowa sits at 18-under-par, six shots clear of all challengers.

“The biggest thing for me was the start that we got off to,” Hawkeye head coach Tyler Stith said. “Starting golf tournaments well is tough and the team just answered the bell today and they were just playing great right from the beginning. That kind of set us up for the rest of the day.”

Schaake has set himself up to defend as individual champion too. The senior leads the individual competition by five shots at 11-under-par.

Schaake started Saturday hot, carding five birdies in his first eight holes. Then, the Omaha, Nebraska, native finished the last 10 holes of his first round with two birdies and eight pars.

In round one, Schaake missed just one green in regulation on his way to a seven-under-par 65 — good for the fourth-lowest 18-hole score in Iowa men’s golf history.

“In the first round, the irons were there,” Schaake said after the conclusion of Saturday’s action. “I kept everything in the right spot on the low side of the hole and gave myself some good birdie looks. I felt like I could’ve played better even, that’s how good I hit it.”

In the second round, Schaake hit a couple loose drives that resulted in a more colorful scorecard. While the 2019 Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Year did amass eight birdies in round two, he also registered four bogeys, netting a four-under-par 68.

“It was definitely fatigue,” Schaake said. “It was my driver in the second round. I felt like I wasn’t hitting it solid. But I’m standing here saying I wasn’t hitting it solid and still shot four-under, so I’m not too worried about that.”

Schaake added that he does not intend to play Sunday’s final round cautiously to nurse his five-shot advantage. Instead, he will bring a fresh approach to round three and simply try to post the best score he can.

Stith hopes the rest of his team follows Schaake’s lead and plays aggressively Sunday.

“I want them to go out and just play like they would on any day out here, on our home golf course,” Stith said. “We don’t want to think about it too much. Go out and enjoy being in the final group with a chance to win.”

Schaake’s fellow Hawkeyes, Mac McClear, Gonzalo Leal Montero, and Garrett Tighe have also worked their way into the 2021 Hawkeye Invitational’s individual top 10.

The final round of the Hawkeye-hosted event will begin tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. Iowa will be paired with Kansas and Marquette in the tournament’s finale.