Hawkeye men’s golf transfer Ronan Kleu making early impact

The junior from Division II Columbus State paced the Hawkeyes with an eight-under-par showing in his first event.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Junior Ronan Kleu lines up for a shot during an Iowa Men’s Golf Practice at Hoak Family Golf Complex in Iowa City on Thursday Sept. 16, 2021.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Hawkeye men’s golf transfer Ronan Kleu arrived in Iowa City for the first time on Aug. 30. He was teeing it up with his new team five days later.

Kleu, who transferred from Division II Columbus State, in Columbus, Georgia, competed in the European Tour’s Omega European Masters in his home country of Switzerland from Aug 26-29 before traveling back to the U.S.

In his second European Tour start, Kleu made the two-round cut and finished as one of only two amateurs to play the entire weekend.

Then, one day later, he came to the University of Iowa campus — a place he had only seen on a screen.

After Kleu earned first-team All-Peach Belt and second-team All-America honors at Columbus State, he caught the eye of Hawkeye assistant coach Charlie Hoyle, who began the recruitment process after Kleu entered his name in the transfer portal.

“[Iowa] approached me when I was in the transfer portal,” Kleu said. “Hoyle had never seen me play before, so he just approached me because I had a pretty good season in 2020. I would have loved to come and visit here, but I couldn’t because of COVID. We just connected via the phone, you know, videos, all that sort of stuff.”

Kleu proved to be a valuable addition to the Hawkeye roster right from the start. He posted a bogey-free five-under-par 67 in his first round as a Hawkeye, recording four birdies on his back nine at the Marquette Invitational at Erin Hills Golf Course in Hartford, Wisconsin, Sept. 5-7.

RELATED: Iowa golf programs struggle on the road

Kleu continued to excel in Wisconsin for the second and final rounds of his debut Hawkeye event, posting two more under-par totals of 70 and 71. He compiled a three-round total of eight-under-par — good for a tie for sixth overall with fellow Hawkeye golfer Gonzalo Leal Montero. The junior carded two eagles and six more birdies over the final 36 holes.

Overall, the Hawkeyes finished ninth in the tournament, with an eight-under-par team score of 856.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Kleu said. “I mean, we were looking forward to Erin Hills, and it didn’t disappoint, an absolutely amazing venue and I played well.”

Iowa men’s golf head coach Tyler Stith said Kleu was impressive in his first event with the Hawkeyes, handling the transition from a Division II institution well.

“I think playing in his first tournament, I know he put a lot of pressure on himself,” Stith said. “You know, first tournament, wanted to impress his teammates, all those things that come along with playing for a team. I think he handled it really well, showing exactly the type of player that we thought he was.”

Kleu did not play in the Hawkeyes’ next event, the Gopher Invitational in Minnesota Sept. 12-13, because of a non-COVID-19 sickness. Without Kleu, Iowa finished 13th of 14 teams in the field with a 32-over-par 884.

But Kleu will be in the lineup for the Hawkeyes’ next event Oct. 4-5, when Iowa travels to South Bend, Indiana, to compete in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Classic.