Hawkeye men’s golf wins Iowa Fall Classic, Mac McClear nabs individual title

Iowa bested second-place Valparaiso by six shots and carded an even-par 288 team score during Monday’s final round at Blue Top Ridge Golf Course in Riverside, Iowa.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s Mac McClear celebrates a tournament victory with assistant coach Charlie Hoyle during the Iowa Fall Classic at Blue Top Ridge Golf Course in Riverside, Iowa, on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated eight other teams to win the tournament, shooting 20 over par.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Mac McClear cemented his third career victory with a tap-in bogey putt on Blue Top Ridge Golf Course’s 18th hole Monday.

The senior battled through windy and cold conditions to post a three-round score of 2-under-par 214. His performance helped the Hawkeye men’s golf team finish first in the inaugural Iowa Fall Classic.

Iowa’s 20-over-par team total of 884 was six shots better than second-place Valparaiso. McClear finished three shots clear of the 50-man field in the individual competition. 

The 2021 Big Ten Champion carded rounds of 70, 72, and 72 on his way to victory. Before Monday, the 2021 conference championship was the last tournament McClear won as an individual.

“Feels pretty good,” McClear said of his win. “Obviously, any win is good no matter what the field. You know, field’s not great, but you still gotta hit the shots and beat everyone.”

McClear led the event wire-to-wire and held a multi-shot lead for most of the second and all of the third round. 

“I mean, three scores of par or better,” head coach Tyler Stith said. “Only player in the field under par. What can you say, he’s just a competitor. He’s always ready to compete. Good weather, bad weather, the kid loves playing golf. He’s just a complete player. He figures out a way to get it done when he’s hitting it good or when he’s not.

“Really proud of him leading the team the first couple of days and just backing it up today. Playing with the lead’s not always the easiest thing … He went out today and didn’t give up any ground, made it really hard for the guys behind him to catch him.”

The two-time All-Big Ten honoree tallied four birdies and four bogeys during Monday’s final round.

McClear said a one-shot-at-a-time mentality and confidence from previous wins helped him stay calm during the final round. 

“I won the [Illinois State Amateur Championship] this summer, so that definitely helped,” McClear said. “Even though I hadn’t won a college tournament in a little bit, I felt like I’ve been in contention and won a tournament pretty recently.”

In his last tournament, the Hinsdale, Illinois, product turned in a tie for fifth at the Purdue Fall Invitational on Oct. 10.

Unlike McClear, the Hawkeyes had to come from behind to win their first team trophy since the 2021 Hawkeye Invitational.

Iowa was seven shots better than any other team on Monday, shooting an even-par 288.

“Yesterday, both days, not easy at all,” Stith said. “Yesterday afternoon, things got difficult. We didn’t play well, finish well, but the guys were ready to play today. You know, they came back today and showed that they have a lot of character. An even-par team score in those conditions is just really good playing. Everybody was in the round. You know, all five guys had a chance to score. Just really proud of the effort.”

Kleu continues to improve, tallies first top-five finish since fall 2021

Senior Ronan Kleu continued his upward trend on Monday after missing the Hawkeyes’ first fall event with an injury.

He had four birdies and five bogeys to record a 1-over-par final round of 73 after posting scores of 73 and 74 on Sunday. Kleu finished the Iowa Fall Classic in a tie for fourth.

RELATED: Iowa men’s golf in second place after first two rounds at Iowa Fall Classic

“100 percent trending,” Kleu said of his game. “I had that little bit of injury and some other health issues, so that was unfortunately at the forefront, but then figured something out with my driver and been working on my putter — those are the two areas that I need to work on. And there’s been some promise shown in the last two weeks.”

Tighe rebounds with Monday 68

After two consecutive scores of 76 over his first 36 holes Sunday, senior Garrett Tighe was 8-over-par and outside the top 15 on the individual leaderboard.

The Illinoisan turned things around on Monday, carding two bogeys, four birdies, and an eagle on his way to a tied-for-fourth finish.

“I mean, I was 1-over both [rounds] and I doubled my last hole and tripled my last hole,” Tighe said of Sunday’s rounds. “So, I knew today, I was like, ‘I’m playing well, so just do the same thing as I did yesterday, but just get rid of those silly mistakes, and I’ll shoot well,’ I took it deep today. So, I was happy.”

Tighe tallied a top-10 finish at the 2021 Big Ten Championship and was the 2022 Hawkeye Invitational runner-up.

“He’s a really aggressive player,” Stith said of Tighe. “He plays with a lot of confidence. Never want to take that away from someone, but occasionally, he gets going a little fast. He’s a little too aggressive and it can lead to some big numbers. But on a day like today, I mean, he was just awesome … He’s a tough-golf-course, tough-condition type of player. When he gets going, you just kind of stand back and let him do his thing.”

Macfie cracks top five, records best collegiate finish

Junior Callum Macfie didn’t make the five-man lineup Stith deployed for the Iowa Fall Classic.

Thanks to a fourth-place showing as an unattached individual on Sunday and Monday, Macfie will likely crack the five-man lineup before the Hawkeyes’ next event.

Fourth is the best finish Macfie has posted in college. He said a few minor swing adjustments and a mindset of acceptance helped him play well this week.

“Just acceptance, not taking myself too seriously on the golf course,” Macfie said of his mindset. “Take each shot as it is, don’t try and inflate the situation or try and let a bad shot in the past kind of carry on forward. Try and be really neutral, and I feel like that helped me this week, especially in these conditions. Hopefully, that will help me going forward.”

Up next

McClear, Kleu, Tighe, Macfie, and sophomore Ian Meyer will represent the Hawkeyes at the Williams Cup from Oct. 21-23 at Eagle Point Golf Club, in Wilmington, North Carolina.