Short game key for Iowa men’s golf this fall

The Hawkeyes finished 12th of 15 teams at the Fighting Irish Classic in South Bend, Indiana — their first event of the season.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s Mac McClear watches other players on the green during the men’s golf Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at Finkbine Golf Course.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s golf team kicked off its 2022 fall season last week in South Bend, Indiana, at the Fighting Irish Classic. The Hawkeyes placed 12th out of 15 schools, shooting 19-over-par 859 as a team.

Iowa struggled in the opening round, posting a combined score of 293 — the second highest team total in round one.

The Hawkeyes bounced back through the last two rounds, shooting 278 in the second round and 288 in the third to finish the tournament strong.

“We didn’t really take any bad losses, all the teams that finished ahead of us are more likely going to be [NCAA] tournament teams,” Iowa head coach Tyler Stith told The Daily Iowan. “So we definitely showed signs of being able to recover after starting a tournament poorly. We bounced back and finished the two rounds pretty competitively.”

Senior Mac McClear led the Hawkeyes’ resurgence. The 2022 Illinois State Amateur Champion shot an opening 3-over-par to start the event but turned in scores of 3-under-par and 1-under par over the final 36 holes to finish tied for 21st individually.

McClear caught fire on the back nine of the second round, as he birdied three holes in a row. He was one of less than 20 players to shoot 67 or lower in round two.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work with my putting, that’s definitely an area I struggle with sometimes,” McClear said. “I definitely had one of my better putting performances I would say all year so that was a positive. I didn’t quite hit the ball as well as I wanted to, but that’ll be something else for me to work on here going forward.”

Putting will be a point of emphasis for McClear and his teammates as they prepare to play the Inverness Intercollegiate hosted by Toledo at the Inverness Club on Sept 26-27.

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One of the most prestigious courses in the country, the Inverness Club has hosted six major championships since 1920, including four U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships.

Although Iowa never played a tournament at the historic venue, the Hawkeyes’ home course, Finkbine Golf Course, shares qualities with the storied layout.

Both courses have slopy greens, and Iowa will use that advantage to prepare for its next event.

“I would say, Inverness is probably more like Finkbine, at least with the degree and complexities being kind of slopy,” McClear said. “So we’re doing some work with the tricky greens here at Finkbine, so that’ll be something that we’re going to work on.”

The Inverness Club, designed by Donald Ross, features speedy, hilly, putting surfaces. Stith believes that the holes will be placed in difficult spots with lots of movement near the cups.

“They’re going to be fast, but you’re going to have a lot of putts that have a ton of break and the ball doesn’t want to stop close to the hole,” Stith said.” So you’ve got to be able to match your read to your speed, so you’re not three-putting from 10 feet. So this next week, we’re spending a lot of time on the greens.”