June 2013

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Overcoming Youth W By Brady Johnson ith a roster of two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen, the University of Iowa men's golf team made the 2012-13 season a successful one despite having one of the youngest lineups in the country. The Hawkeyes held their own against elite competition every weekend, earned a team title in an 18-team field, placed in the top-three of the Big Ten Championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament for a fifth straight season. And as soon as they landed back in Iowa following regionals, there was no time for celebration for the vastly-improved team. It was on to the next step for Hankins' squad. With a busy summer schedule and important tournaments right around the corner, the Hawkeyes are back to work. Iowa's roster will play in a number of national level amateur tournaments, important qualifiers and even a PGA TOUR event in the case of junior Steven Ihm. While some teams may be willing to rest on the laurels of the previous season, the Hawkeyes are eager to improve on what was already a successful 2012-13. "We can't just get older this summer, we have to get better," said Hankins. "Our guys need to realize and work on their weaknesses, and build their experience and confidence through numerous summer amateur tournaments. If they come back as better players and look to be the number one guy, then we'll be a better team next season." The thought of an improved Iowa roster across the board would be a scary thought for the Big Ten considering Iowa's quality showing on the season. With the youngest team Hankins has ever had as a coach, the Hawkeyes tallied six top-five finishes with a strength of schedule that ranked in the top-25 in the nation. Iowa won the 18-team Boilermaker Invitational, took bronze at the Big Ten Championships, and qualified for NCAA Regionals in Tallahassee, Fla. Iowa entered the season with 2 ½ years of varsity experience in the lineup — one season from Ian Vandersee, one from Ihm, and a half from Winslow. The inexperience required the team to generate new leaders and find new players to step up, and that happened for Hankins and the Hawkeyes. "We had the youngest team that I've coached in 13 years," said Hankins. "I was proud that we could compete with the best fields in the country. We reached a number of team goals, like a top-three finish at the Big Tens and reaching the NCAA's, and had new guys step up, lead as individuals and earn individual accolades. We have learned, adapted and grown throughout this season, and will come out next year with a clear idea of what it takes to be the best in the Big Ten and the country." Ihm's summer schedule will be sure to draw the attention of Hawkeye fans all over. The Peosta, Iowa, native will compete in the final stage of U.S. Open Qualifying June 3. Ihm will also be the first Hawkeye to compete, while in college, at the PGA TOUR's John Deere Classic after receiving a sponsor's exemption based on his exceptional spring season and national amateur ranking which is top in the state of Iowa. The John Deere Classic runs July 8-14 at the Tournament Players Club Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. Sophomores Joseph Winslow, Brian Bullington and Ian Vandersee, and freshman Nate Yankovich — who played in every spring tournament along with Ihm — will also play demanding summer schedules that include a mix of national and statewide tournaments. They each look to follow solid 2012 summers which included solid play in such tournaments as the U.S. Amateur by Bullington and Vandersee, Western Amateur, Northern Amateur and the Trans- Miss Am among others. The goal for each Hawkeye is to return in August as an improved player. If they're able to do so, Iowa will have a team to watch when it returns to Finkbine next season. 41

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