The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s golfer Max Tjoa provides spark for the Hawkeyes

Tjoa has performed well in his first two collegiate starts, leading the Hawkeyes in scoring at the Highlands Invitational on Sept. 18-19.
Matt Sindt
Photo Illustration by Matt Sindt

Iowa men’s golfer Max Tjoa has shown no signs of rust during his first collegiate starts as a Hawkeye. 

After a streaky performance at the ANF Fall Classic on Sept. 5-6, the first-year bounced back at the Highlands Invitational in Chicago on Sept. 18-19, tying fellow first-year Noah Kent for the team lead with a score of 217.

He’s already enjoying the tournament experience. 

“It was a lot of fun to travel with the guys and play some new courses,” Tjoa said. 

As a team, the Hawkeyes have struggled to find consistency, finishing in second place at the ANF Fall Classic, and ending the Highlands Invitational 14th out of 15 teams. 

Tjoa even finished higher than fifth-year standout Mac McClear. 

McClear, a Chicago native, ended the event with a disappointing four over par — resulting in a tie for 48th place. 

Despite his disappointing performance, McClear is impressed with Tjoa’s strong performance so far. 

“He’s one of the straightest players that I’ve ever seen, and the more tournaments he plays in the better he’ll get,” McClear said. 

Head coach Tyler Stith has been impressed with Tjoa’s play so far this season. 

“Max has been doing a great job in practice, and he’s played a lot of tournament golf in his career. He’s going to have a great career,” Stith said. 

When people think of competitive sports, football, and basketball usually end up in the conversation. But Tjoa sees a competitive side of a sport that is typically associated with relaxation and leisure. 

Related: Iowa cross country senior distance runners Amber Aesop, Booke McKee, Abby Ryon reflect on team bond, consider fifth year of eligibility.

“My favorite part of golf is the never-ending grind of getting better, and there’s always things to improve on,” he said. 

Every golfer has dreams of reaching the PGA Tour in one way or another, and every athlete has an idol in their respective sport. For Tjoa, it’s Norwegian superstar Viktor Hovland. 

“Not only is Viktor a really good player, he keeps to himself and handles himself in a good way around the media,” he said. 

Hailing from Cedar Falls, Iowa, Tjoa achieved great success at Cedar Falls High School, leading his team to a Class 4A state championship in 2021, as well as three additional state tournament appearances. 

On the individual stage, Tjoa earned first-team All-State during his final three years of high school and was named the 2022 Iowa Golf Association Boys Player of the Year. He also participated in the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur in North Carolina. 

Despite growing up in the state of Iowa, Tjoa was a fan of the rival Wisconsin Badgers. 

“Growing up, my family and I were Wisconsin fans, but that was before I decided to go to Iowa,” he added.

When it was time for his college decision, many programs wanted his services. However, the winning culture that Stith has brought to Iowa made it an easy choice. 

“I really like the facilities and connected really well with the coaching staff,” Tjoa said. 

Under Stith, the Iowa program has made it to the NCAA Regionals five times, establishing itself as one of the most respected programs in the Big Ten. 

Adjusting to college is no easy task, but Tjoa is comfortable in Iowa City. He said playing college golf hasn’t been that nerve-wracking so far and he has settled in fast. 

“I haven’t had any trouble adjusting so far, luckily I’ve been able to find my classes and things like that,” he said. 

Despite being on campus for only a few months, Tjoa has developed a strong bond with his new teammates. 

“All of the guys and I get along very well, and we always try to do something outside the golf course,” he said.

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About the Contributor
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.