AMES, Iowa – Scott Fernandez’ assault on the Iowa State men’s golf record book is unprecedented. The sophomore from Granada, Spain is not only recording the finest season in school history, but one of the best in college golf this year.
Fernandez is making his mark on the heels of his former teammate and mentor’s incredible accomplishments, Nate McCoy
The Cyclones entered the season with the burden of replacing the services of the All-American McCoy, who recorded the best season in the annals of ISU golf in 2011-12. McCoy, who became the first Cyclone to qualify for the NCAA finals since 1980, broke the single-season scoring mark (71.65), was an unanimous pick for All-Big 12 First Team and ended his senior year ranked 42nd nationally by Golfweek.
The achievement bar for Cyclone golf had been raised to an unattainable level. Or had it?
One person who didn’t believe it was McCoy himself. In the middle of his record-setting senior campaign, McCoy was interviewed by Cyclones.com and was asked about his rookie teammate. The soothsayer told the school’s website this, “Mark my word. Scott Fernandez will go down as the greatest player in Cyclone golf when his career is over.”
Not only was McCoy was one of the best ever to compete at Iowa State, he also has a keen eye for talent.
Fernandez posted an excellent rookie season a year ago (2011-12), recording the lowest freshman scoring mark in school history (73.18) while helping the Cyclones earn their first NCAA Regional berth since 1999.
However, what Fernandez has done for an encore in 2012-13 has been fabulous. The Spaniard has emerged as one of the best golfers in the nation, currently holding down the No. 16 individual ranking nationally by Golfweek, the highest ranking ever by a Cyclone.
His scores speak for themselves. In nine tournaments this season, Fernandez has placed in the top-10 in eight of them (2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 22nd, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th). His highest round of the season is a 75 and his 71.11 scoring average is on pace to break McCoy’s one-year-old mark.
Fernandez is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Big 12 Championship to earn All-Tournament honors. He is one of just three Cyclones in school history to place in the top-10 at the Big 12 Championship.
McCoy had eight top-10 finishes in 14 tournaments last year and Fernandez already has eight top-10s in nine tournaments this year. Fernandez missed a pair of tournaments in the fall while competing for Spain in the World Amateur where he tied for 13th as an individual.
Iowa State head men’s golf coach Andrew Tank, who was a member of Minnesota’s 2002 national championship team, has been around a lot of good golfers. Fernandez is definitely one of them.
“Scott is right up there with the best players I have ever coached and is certainly in the conversation with the best players in the country right now,” Tank said. “What makes Scott so special is his approach to the game. He sees the big picture and has high goals and expectations for himself. He’s always searching for ways to get better and he wants to learn and wants to grow as a player.”
Fernandez recently tied for second at the Thunderbird Invitational (April 5-7), posting rounds of 69-69-65 en route to the second-best 54-hole scored in ISU history (203). His performance bested the nation’s No. 1-ranked golfer Michael Kim (California) by nine shots, but that shouldn’t surprise you.
Fernandez is 6-1-1 vs. players ranked in Golfweek’s individual top-25 national ratings.
The nation is catching on to Fernandez Fever. In January, Fernandez became the first Cyclone to make the Ben Hogan Award Watch list, an award given out annually to the nation’s best collegiate golfer.
Last week, Fernandez was selected to play in one of the most prestigious amateur events in the world in the 2013 Palmer Cup. The Palmer Cup pits the best collegiate players from the United States vs. the top from Europe in a Ryder Cup-style event. Fernandez was the second pick on the European squad.
Golfweek lists Fernandez as the 107th-best amateur golfer in the world.
The season is now winding down for Fernandez and the Cyclones, but Tank envisions his star has plenty more low scores left in him.
“The great thing about Scott is when he tees it up at the (NCAA) Regional his goal will be to be in contention and try to win,” Tank said. “That’s what he will need to do at the Regional to advance on, but this will be nothing new to him because that has been his mindset at every tournament so far this year. It is very difficult to advance as an individual to the NCAA finals, but if he plays his game, he will be right there at the end.”
Fernandez is lock for an NCAA Regional berth, May 16-18 at a site to be determined on Monday May 6.