Former Iowa men’s golfer Carson Schaake qualifies for U.S. Open

The 2017 Hawkeye golf graduate won the sectional qualifier on Monday to earn a spot in the golf season’s third major tournament.

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Iowa junior Carson Schaake drives the ball of the tee at Finkbine Golf Course on Saturday April 16, 2016. Iowa tied for second in the Hawkeye Invitational. (The Daily Iowan/ Alex Kroeze)

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter


Former Iowa golfer Carson Schaake, who golfed for the Hawkeyes from 2013-17, qualified for the 2021 U.S. Open Monday afternoon. He posted a nine-under-par total to win the 36-hole sectional qualifying event at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Ohio.

The Hawkeye graduate carded a two-under par 68 and seven-under-par 63 to climb to the top of the 77-player leaderboard at the qualifier. PGA Tour golfers such as Troy Merritt and Brian Stuard were also among the site’s seven qualifiers.

Despite winning the qualifier, Schaake thought that he left putts out on the course — giving him confidence as he goes into the U.S. Open.

“I played great and you’re never going to have a perfect round,” Schaake said. “You’re never going to have a round where you don’t give away shots. In the first round, I missed a few putts. I got a lot of confidence from it, and I still know I can play better. It’s a good feeling to have — knowing I can play really, really solid and shoot a score like that against some really good players but even then, there’s stuff I need to get better at.”

Schaake’s opening 18-hole round Monday morning included an eagle, four birdies, and four bogeys. But in the afternoon, something clicked for the Omaha, Nebraska, native as he went bogey-free, draining seven birdies in his final 18 holes.

“I teed off 10 [to start the second round],” Schaake said. “I got off to a solid start, made a really good up and down on 12 out of a bunker. Hit a four-iron close on 13 from about 195 yards straight into the wind, and made birdie there, had like a five-foot putt that I had to play like six feet [outside of the hole,] and just poured it right in the center. Right then I just kind of got it going. It’s not like I turned it on, or I was in a zone, I just knew I just had to hit a couple more solid putts and just see them start to fall and that’s what happened.”

But the day also brought internal adversity for the 2015 co-Big Ten champion — as he closed in on earning his first major championship appearance in his four-year professional career, Schaake frequently had to regain his focus.

“Golf is a crazy game,” Schaake said. “You can’t really explain the thoughts that go through your head when you’re leading a tournament but the best way I can describe it is, it’s crazy. You just have to find a way to bottle it up and send it away. And all this crazy stuff that I’ve worked on through high school golf and through college golf try to refine it year after year, try to get better mentally at that kind of stuff. The only way you can do that is by putting yourself in that position earlier in the past and then get better the next time and get better the next time.

“So, even though I qualified yesterday, I can take away from that experience those good thoughts I started putting my head,” Schaake added. “And the times where bad stuff started coming in my head, I put them in an envelope and send it away in the mailbox.”

Schaake paired with Merritt for the second round of the day, and the former Hawkeye felt comfortable next to the PGA Tour mainstay. Prior to the sectional qualifier, Merritt golfed in the PGA Memorial Tournament June 3-6.

Schaake bested Merritt by six shots in the second round.

“That’s what you got to do at golf tournaments,” Schaake said. “You can’t care about all that other stuff. You got to go play the golf course, do your own thing, and get in your own little bubble and do your thing. That’s what I’ve practiced for my whole life and that’s what I’m planning on doing.”

Although Schaake said he will try his best to stay in his own little bubble when he tees off at Torrey Pines Golf Course on June 17, it won’t be like any other golf tournament he’s ever played.

In his first major tournament appearance, Schaake’s brother — recent Hawkeye graduate and former Iowa golfer Alex Schaake — will be caddying for him.

“I keep saying it, but I’m just so excited,” Carson Schaake said. “I’m just really pumped ready to get out there and enjoy the experience. It’s a U.S freaking Open.”

The U.S. Open will take place from June 17-20 and will be televised on NBC and Golf Channel.

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