The University of Iowa men’s golf team shot a three-over-par 291 in the first round of the NCAA Columbia Regional on Thursday, earning the Hawkeyes a tie for sixth place after 18 holes in the 54-hole event.
Iowa and Arizona State share sixth place, trailing Oklahoma State (272), host Missouri (281), Virginia (285), LSU (289) and Arkansas (289). The tournament is being played at The Club at Old Hawthorne, and continues with 18 holes Friday and Saturday. The top five teams in the 14-team field will advance to the NCAA Championship Finals.
“We got off to a decent start,” said UI head coach Mark Hankins. “Midway through the round we were missing on the wrong side of some pins, leaving some tough putts and we dropped a few shots. We continued to battle on the back and played well after a short rain delay to finish at plus three for the day.
“This team has been deep all year; from one event to the next we don’t know who is going to be low man. Steven (Ihm) has been consistent all spring, but each of these guys post solid scores and contribute. The guys are able to stick to their own game plan when they can trust their teammate to do the same each and every round.”
Freshmen Raymond Knoll and Carson Schaake led Iowa in the first round with even par scores of 72. The duo is tied for 12th after the first day of play. Junior Brian Bullington shot a one-over 73; senior Steven Ihm recorded a two-over 74 and junior Ian Vandersee carded a score of 80.
Knoll began his day with a birdie on the par five 10th hole. He added birdies on 15 and 17 and was one under at the turn with bogies on 11 and 16. He shot one over par on his second nine, just missing birdie putts on his final two holes of the day.
“That was a good start,” said Knoll, of his initial birdie. “I had planned on laying-up, but when I got to my ball I had about 250 to the flag and felt that was a perfect shot for a cut three-wood. It worked out perfectly, I put it on the green and made birdie.
“I also birdied 15,” said Knoll. “I hit my drive out to the right, laid-up with a nine iron to about 115 yards, hit a knockdown pitching wedge to about eight feet and made the putt. On 17, I hit a good drive down the middle, another knockdown pitching wedge to about 10 feet and made the putt. I laid up to 120 yards whenever I could; the knockdown pitching wedge was good for me today.”
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Schaake played consistently all day before an up-and-down finish. He had a birdie on his fifth hole and was minus one at the turn. He stayed under par until a bogey on his 15th hole, where he had to stop play in the middle of the hole due to the weather conditions. After a second bogey on eight he ended the day with a birdie on the par-five ninth hole.
Bullington started off his day with a double bogie, but fought back for the one-over score of 73. He pared the next 12 holes before a birdie on five and a bogey on six. He closed his round with an up-and-down from the rough for a birdie on the final hole.
“Starting off with a double bogie is never ideal, but I knew I had 17 holes left today and two more rounds the next two days,” said Bullington. “I didn’t let it affect me. I putted well and managed my game. It’s all about staying in the present and I did a good job with that and kept battling out there. On the last hole, I had 250 yards, plus 20 for elevation, following my tee shot. I hit my second shot just short of the green in the long stuff. I hit a good chip and made the putt.”
“Brian was ready to play,” said Hankins. “He has been playing well and posted a solid one-over for the day. It’s tough to tell what is going to be a good score on any day; it’s blowing out there and anything around even par on the first day doesn’t take you out of it individually.”
Ihm got off to a rough start with bogies on two of his first three holes, but he collected two birdies on the front and was one over at the turn. He carded a bogey and a double bogey before the rain delay before closing with birdies on two of his final three holes to shoot 74.
Vandersee, who like Ihm is playing in his third straight NCAA regional, shot two-over 38 on his opening nine holes before running into trouble in his back nine. Following the rain delay, Vandersee was able to collect a birdie on the sixth hole and played the final five holes at even par.
The Hawkeyes will begin play from the 10th tee at 8 a.m. (CT) on Friday, along with Iowa State and San Diego State. Live scoring throughout the tournament is available at golfstat.com.
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Oklahoma State 272
Arizona State 291
Iowa State 293
San Diego State 294
Middle Tennessee State 301
Ohio State 308
Individual Standings (Top 5 plus Iowa)
1. Jordan Niebrugge, Okla. State 65
2. Talor Gooch, Okla. State 67
T3. Hunter Kraus, Missouri 68
T3. David Pastore, Virginia 68
T5. Denny McCarthy, Virginia 69
T5. Ryan Zech, Missouri 69
T12. Carson Schaake, Iowa 72
T12. Raymond Knoll, Iowa 72
T23. Brian Bullington, Iowa 73
T30. Steven Ihm, Iowa 74
T68. Ian Vandersee, Iowa 80