Golfers Gear Up For Big 12 Championship
AMES, Iowa - Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas is set to play host to its fifth Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship, April 25-27 and the Iowa State men’s golf team is hoping to be in the thick of the race for the title.
The Cyclones are currently ranked 47th nationally by Golfweek and are in excellent shape to make their second NCAA Regional appearance in the last three years, a goal head coach Andrew Tank always has on his agenda each season.
“We’re trying to continue to build the program and make it to regionals every year,” Tank said. “Two years ago was a big step forward and we’re trying to get back there again. We feel like we’re on a good path.”
Six of the nation’s top-50 teams are set to tee it up on the extremely challenging 7,473-yard, par-70 layout designed by Chet Williams of the Nicklaus Design group.
The venue played host to the 2012 Big 12 Championships. Juniors Scott Fernandez and Sam Daley were just rookies then, but they had success there. Daley tied for 18th in his Big 12 Championship debut, while Fernandez tied for 27th.
“Whispering Pines is a great course for the Big 12 Championship,” Tank said. “Fortunately, three of our guys have already played the course before.”
The three players Tank was referring to also includes freshman Ruben Sondjaja Sondjaja represented Australia at the Spirit International at Whispering Pines in November.
“It’s definitely a big advantage,” Sondjaja said. “We’ve got lots of good information about the golf course, we’ve just got to share it with the boys and let them know as well.”
No. 4 Oklahoma State and No. 15 Oklahoma are the highest-rated teams in the strong field. Texas is ranked No. 18, followed by Baylor (No. 26), Texas Tech (No. 39) and Iowa State (No. 47). TCU is barely out of the top-50 at No. 52.
All-American Fernandez will no doubt be a catalyst behind ISU’s efforts at Whispering Pines.
Fernandez, who has a team-best 71.55 stroke average, has certainly lived up to the hype this year. The junior from Granada, Spain has garnered six top-10 finishes to bring his career total to 20, the most in program history. He’s placed in the top-11 in his last five tournaments and is a combined 14-under in his last three events.
Tank will also look to a pair of rookies in Sondjaja and Nick Voke for consistent play at their first Big 12 Championship. Each has recorded three top-10 finishes this season.
“I’d say they’ve exceeded my expectations a little bit, which is always a very good thing,” Tank said about his rookies. “I’m excited for them to see what the Big 12 Championship is all about and hopefully see what the NCAA post-season looks like, too.”
Voke has pieced together a solid rookie campaign, compiling a team-best seven sub-70 rounds and a scoring average of 72.26, which is set to break Fernandez’s ISU freshman scoring mark of 73.18
Sondjaja has also been intricate in ISU’s success this season, ranking third on the team in stroke average (72.92) and tying the school record for lowest 18-hole round with a 64 at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational.
Daley, a native of Wynnum, Australia, will also be key to ISU’s success. Daley has been one of ISU’s most consistent performers this year, recording a 72.90 stroke average and two top-10 finishes while playing in all 10 tournaments.
Sophomore Collin Foster will round out ISU’s top-five competing at the Big 12 Championship. Foster will enter the tournament with momentum after posting his first top-10 finish at the Hawkeye Invitational on April 13.
You can follow the live scoring of the Big 12 Championship on golfstat.com.