Iowa men’s golf nabs sixth seed in Cle Elum NCAA regional

The Hawkeyes earned their 11th regionals bid since 2009 and dominated the Big Ten postseason awards Wednesday.


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

The Iowa men’s golf team earned the sixth seed in the Cle Elum regional during the NCAA men’s golf selection show Wednesday afternoon.

The selection marks the program’s 11th trip to the regional stage since 2009. The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 32 nationally by Golfstat.

Iowa head coach Tyler Stith’s group will compete at Tumble Creek Golf and Country Club in Washington state against 13 other schools.

The competition takes place from May 17-19, and the top five teams from the regional along with the low individual not on an advancing team will get through to the national championships at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, two weeks later.

“We are excited to begin the road to Grayhawk,” Iowa senior Alex Schaake said in a release. “I don’t know anything about the course, but it looks amazing. I’m proud of our team earning a No. 6 seed. We’ve had a really good year and we are excited about our opportunity.”

The Cle Elum regional field features top-seeded Wake Forest and No. 2 seed Pepperdine along with, in order of seeding, Florida, Arizona, San Francisco, Washington, East Tennessee State, Utah, Oregon, Mississippi State, Long Beach State, Denver, and Sacramento State.

The Hawkeyes battled the Demon Deacons at the Kiawah Invitational in February and took on both the Demon Deacons and the Gators at the Calusa Cup in early April.

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Although the Hawkeyes finished behind both teams at the Calusa Cup, an Iowa-hosted event played in Naples, Florida, the upcoming regional will be in a cooler climate in the Northwest.

“I think it is going be an advantage [to play in a colder climate],” Schaake said. “The top four teams in our region are from the south; playing Big Ten golf you experience all kinds of weather and you don’t usually play in very pretty weather at all, so I believe we have an advantage.”

Last weekend at the Big Ten Championships, the Hawkeyes proved they can play with the best in those less-than-ideal conditions.

The Black and Gold finished just one shot short of capturing their third team title of the six-event season as the now six-time defending Big Ten champion Illinois Fighting Illini edged Iowa at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. Illinois was awarded the No. 2 seed at the Stillwater regional.

Leading the charge for the Hawkeye last weekend, as they have done all season, were the duo of Schaake and sophomore Mac McClear. For the third time this season, the pair finished first and second on the individual leaderboard. McClear captured his second win of the year, and Schaake finished three shots back with two others in a tie for second place.

Hours before the NCAA selection show, McClear and Schaake were recognized for their stellar play this spring by the Big Ten.

Schaake, who has finished in the top five in five-straight events including a win at the Hawkeye Invitational and three runner-ups, was named the Big Ten co-Men’s Golfer of the Year for the second time of his Hawkeye career. McClear earned his first Big Ten recognition being named to the all-conference first team. Stith was also recognized as the Big Ten Men’s Golf Coach of the Year.

Schaake first won the award in 2019 and his two top honors make up half of the program’s four in the category, he is the first Hawkeye to receive the honor in multiple seasons. The Omaha, Nebraska, native is the sixth Big Ten golfer since 1988 to win the award multiple times.

Following his Big Ten individual triumph, Iowa’s first Big Ten tournament individual winner since 2015, McClear was the only unanimous selection to the all-conference first team.

McClear has won two tournaments this season and previously earned Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors for his championship performance at the Spartan Collegiate at Sea Island March 9. The sophomore has improved by more than four shots per round since last year.

Stith is the second Hawkeye men’s golf coach to be named Big Ten Coach of the Year since 1988. The former Iowa golfer and Mount Pleasant, Iowa, native led the Hawkeyes to second place finishes at both the Big Ten Match Play and Big Ten Championships, three individual tournament titles, and two team tournament titles for the first time since 2014.

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