April 2013

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Big Opportunity Awaits Hawkeye Golfers By Brady Johnson I n a typical golf season, programs play a majority of their rounds on an away team's course. That means long road trips, adjusting to unfamiliar courses, and playing in front of an away crowd. For once or twice in a season, teams have a special opportunity to host an event with all the advantages that come from playing at their home venue. For head coach Mark Hankins and the University of Iowa men's golf team, that chance is April 13-14, as the Hawkeyes host the 20th annual Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational. The most significant home court advantage in all of sports comes in golf, which will be an asset for the home-standing Hawkeyes, who have played Finkbine Golf Course nearly every day. Playing their home course in front of a supporting crowd will provide a great opportunity. "Hosting a national-level tournament is important due to the simple fact that we can compete at our home golf course," said Hankins. "Competing against nationally ranked teams at your own course is a significant advantage, and it will be a great opportunity for our guys individually and as a team." The Hawkeyes have established a winning tradition as hosts at the invitational, claiming the title 13 times. Iowa has won the event three straight seasons and five of the last seven times. Iowa's record book is full of positive results from this event, including a dominating performance from last year's team. Iowa claimed the title in 2012 with the third-lowest 54-hole score in program history, a 24-under, 840. "With such a quality field, we will need to be well prepared and avoid the common distractions of playing at home to compete for the tournament championship this year," said Hankins Hosting a major tournament isn't possible without support from others, and that's something the Hawkeyes aren't lacking. Iowa will have a great support staff from Finkbine Golf Course — a 7,250-yard, par-72 golf course prized by the University and Iowa City community — who will get the course in the best conditions possible. The Hawkeyes also have great help from sponsors, whose support creates a first-class event drawing top collegiate golf teams from around the country. Sponsorship from Great River Entertainment, PZAZZ Hotel Resort and Fun City helps develop a great strength of schedule at the event, which factors into NCAA regional qualification. "In Division I golf, you can't draw a quality tournament field without help from sponsors," said Hankins. "Our friends at PZAZZ Hotel, FunCity and Spirit Hollow help make this a great event, which draws a great field. We couldn't create this level of a tournament without them." After three top-five finishes in the fall season, Iowa has opened the spring season strong with a third-place showing at the Big Ten Match Play Championships and a title at the Big Four Championships. Hosting the 20th annual Hawkeye-Great River Entertainment Invitational, Iowa will continue to look for momentum as it proceeds toward the postseason. The Hawkeyes host a media day on Tuesday, April 9, while each participating team will play a practice round on Friday, April 12. Thirty-six holes of action will be played Saturday, and the deciding final round will be played on Sunday. Iowa will have all eight players on their roster in action — five as starters and three competing individually. Iowa will compete against a field boasting the best talent in the region, with 11 teams in action. Iowa and fellow Big Ten foes Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, and Wisconsin will be in the field, as well as Iowa State, Miami (Ohio), Washington State, UNC-Charlotte and Notre Dame. 57

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