Fernandez Heads To NCAA Regional With Confidence
AMES, Iowa – Iowa State sophomore golfer Scott Fernandez has a daunting task in front of him as he travels to the NCAA Ohio State Regional at the Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio, May 16-18.
Fernandez is one of 75 players at the Regional, and the Cyclone, who earned one of 10 individual berths to Columbus, will have to be the low scorer among all the players not on a NCAA-qualifying team (five teams advance) to make it the 2013 NCAA Championship (May 28-June 2).
If Fernandez needs advice on how to navigate this tough assignment, he can place a simple call to his former teammate Nate McCoy, who achieved the feat last season.
McCoy, an All-American and 2012 Iowa State Male Athlete of the Year, was the first Cyclone to reach the finals since 1980 and the only player in school history to advance under the current Regional format. He made the most of his historic appearance by tying for 29th at the 2012 NCAA Championship at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
McCoy, who turned professional and is currently a member of the Canadian Tour, could offer advice, but it’s not like Fernandez needs it.
There arguably hasn’t been a better season produced by a Cyclone in the history of the program than Fernandez’ 2012-13 campaign. He’s competed in nine tournaments, and he’s literally had a chance to win eight of them, placing in the top-10 eight times and in the top-five seven times.
The Granada, Spain, native has garnered many awards and honors during his record-setting season, including the following: Ben Hogan Award Watch list, berth in the World Amateur, spot on the European Palmer Cup team and All-Big 12 First-Team honors.
McCoy set the ISU single-season standard for low scoring average (71.65) last year, but Fernandez will likely break it. He currently boasts a 71.11 scoring clip in 27 rounds, shooting in the 60s seven times and never carding a score worse than 75 all season.
Iowa State head coach Andrew Tank is glad Fernandez is staying in the Midwest for the postseason. He feels the layout will suit his strengths.
“The Scarlet Course is very demanding tee to green and Scott’s length and accuracy will be an advantage for him,” Tank said. “There will be holes out there where being able to hit a shorter club into a green will be a big advantage. Around the greens you will need all the shots - bump and runs, low spinners, high flops – and I think Scott has all of those in his game.”
On a personal level, Tank is ecstatic to return to a course which holds a plethora of special memories. As the team captain of the 2002 Minnesota golf squad, Tank was a key member of Minnesota’s improbable 2002 NCAA Championship team, which won the title at the Scarlet Course.
Tank and his teammates were told the 2002 season would be Minnesota’s last, as administrators decided to drop the program at season’s end. Brad James took over as interim coach and Tank, who was a fifth-year senior, assisted James in various administrative and coaching duties throughout the season and traveled with the team in the postseason.
Though Tank wasn’t among the top-five players competing at the NCAA finals, he was an important part of the national championship season and helping Gopher golf escape the chopping block.
“I get a great feeling every time I go there,” Tank said. “I remember how incredible it was for Minnesota to win while nobody in the world thought we could. We were six shots behind going into the final round and we came back to win it. As I am out there, and I have been there a couple of times since, I can remember a lot of shots. It’s got to be one of my favorite places to be just because of those memories.”
To view the Cyclones.tv preview of the NCAA Regional, click on the links above.
You can follow Fernandez hole-by-hole at the NCAA Regional on Golfstat throughout the 54-hole tournament. Host school Ohio State also has a tournament central page.