Iowa men’s golf to begin season at Marquette Intercollegiate

In their first tournament of the fall season, the Hawkeyes will compete against 13 teams in Hartford, Wisconsin.


Hannah Kinson

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

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Iowa men’s golf will begin the 2021 season Sunday in a three-day event at the Marquette Intercollegiate in Hartford, Wisconsin, at the Erin Hills Golf Course. 

The Erin Hills Golf Course — the site of the 2016 U.S. Open — will host the 14-team field.

Senior Gonzalo Leal Montero is the sole Hawkeye left on the 2018 men’s golf roster — the  last time the Hawkeyes played at the Marquette Intercollegiate. In 2018, Leal Montero fired a first-round five-under-par 67 and a final round 71. He did not play in the second round.

The Hawkeyes, along with the rest of the week’s field, will not play from the far back tees — where the pros did in 2016. But Hawkeye men’s golf head coach Tyler Stith said it will be a challenging layout nonetheless.

The 2020 Big Ten Coach of the Year said the most difficult element of the course will be the green complexes — bunkers and terrain will prove treacherous for the Hawkeyes.

“It’s pretty, pretty generous off the tee, so, I mean, driving shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but it does get pretty treacherous around the greens,” Stith said. “Some of the bunkers are tough just to even get out of, let alone save par. So, I think our approach shots into the greens are going to be really important, make sure that we’re not short-siding ourselves in any deep bunkers that it’s going to take two shots to get out of.”

But Stith also noted the wide fairways will allow for plenty of birdie opportunities throughout the tournament, and the key to a successful tournament will be avoiding double bogies. 

Junior Mac McClear has played Erin Hills before, but not in a competitive tournament. The Marquette Intercollegiate will set the stage for the golfer from Hinsdale, Illinois, to play a competitive event on his second major championship course.

McClear took the individual medalist title at the 2021 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championship, carding one-under-par for a three-shot victory at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana — where the 1991 PGA Championship was held.

McClear, who tallied a 58 and a 61 this offseason, said he enjoys playing on such prestigious tracks.

“One of the best parts of college golf is getting to play all these great courses,” McClear said. You can test your game against the best guys in the world. Watch them on TV and then you get to go play it yourself. It’s pretty cool.”

Leal Montero and McClear are two of Hawkeye returners who saw significant playing time last season.. 

McClear collected two individual titles at the Big Ten Championship and Spartan Intercollegiate in Sea Island, Georgia, March 8-9. Iowa also snagged two team championships at the Spartan Intercollegiate and Hawkeye Invitational at Finkbine Golf Course April 12-13.

Junior Garrett Tighe and senior Jake Rowe also teed it up in multiple tournaments last season. 

Stith’s bunch will participate in three other fall tournaments after the trip to Wisconsin, beginning in Minnesota at the Gopher Invitational Sept. 12-13.

Iowa will finish the fall at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Classic in South Bend, Indiana, and the Williams Cup, hosted by North Carolina, in October.

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