Iowa men’s golf finishes season at NCAA Cle Elum Regional tournament

The Hawkeyes finished 11th in the 13-team field.


Katie Goodale

Iowa’s Alex Schaake looks to the hole during the third round of the Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Iowa won the invitational 24 under par.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

On Wednesday, the Iowa men’s golf team finished 11th in the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Regional’s 13-team field in Cle Elum, Washington.

The Hawkeyes played the three-day, 54-hole event at the Tumble Creek Club at Suncadia Resort, posting a 25-over-par 877 team score.

The Hawkeyes came out of the gate hot in the first nine holes of the tournament on Monday, leading the team field at four under par. Hawkeye seniors Alex Schaake and Charles Jahn sat atop the leaderboard in first and second place, respectively, after nine holes of action. Their momentum, however, quickly vanished.

Through their final 12 holes Monday, the four counting Iowa players carded three birdies compared to seven bogeys and two double bogeys. The Hawkeyes finished the first round at a collective five over par, dropping from first place to 12th place on the day.

On Tuesday, Iowa’s struggles continued, as the team posted a 19-over-par 303 to fall to last place after two rounds.

“Any explanation sounds like an excuse and that’s not what we were about,” Hawkeye head coach Tyler Stith said. “We just didn’t put in the kind of performance necessary to be in contention. You can’t play well every week in this game.”

On Wednesday, the Hawkeyes fought back and turned in the third-best team score of the day, tallying a one-over-par 285 to climb two spots on the team leaderboard.

“I’m very happy we bounced back today,” Stith said following the third round of competition. “We set a goal to win the final round and came very close. We showed character and our true competitiveness.”

Schaake and Hawkeye sophomore Mac McClear both fired under-par third rounds on Wednesday to close out their seasons.

Schaake carded a two-under-par 69, while McClear finished a shot lower at 68.

Schaake, McClear, and junior Gonzalo Leal-Montero combined for 11 birdies over the final six holes of the tournament.

“I’m more proud of myself than anything,” Schaake said. “That I got off my butt after that second round and hit the refresh button and played a good third round. Our team came out strong as well. We were probably not going to make top five and make nationals, but we wanted to prove a point that this was not Iowa golf this week. I really wanted to go out there and prove a point that shooting under par is what we do and what I do. We had a lot of fun that last day and there was no pressure — you usually play really good golf when that happens.”

While the Hawkeyes’ season finale in Cle Elum proved uneventful, Iowa’s 2020-21 season was still one of the best in program history.

The Hawkeyes took home two regular season championships, finishing first at both the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City April 17 and 18 and the Spartan Collegiate in Sea Island, Georgia, March 8 and 9.

Individually, Schaake won the Hawkeye Invitational, and McClear collected two tournament titles — including the Spartan Collegiate and the Big Ten Championship.

For the second time in his five years as a Hawkeye, Schaake was named the Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Year in 2021.

McClear was honored as a first-team All-Big Ten selection after his performance at the Big Ten Championships, and Stith collected 2021 Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.

“We had a great season, and I am so grateful to the team and [assistant coach Charlie] Hoyle for their hard work and commitment,” Stith said. “This group has raised the standard in our program, and I am very proud of what they accomplished this spring. Success breeds success, our underclassmen have seen what winning looks like, and next year they will have a chance to keep it going.”

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