IOWA CITY – Don’t ask Ian Vandersee about his performance last week in the NCAA Southeast Regional men’s golf tournament.
He already is focusing elsewhere.
The freshman led Iowa to a fifth place finish in the regional. He shot a 5-under par 66 in the final round, providing the Hawkeyes the boost they needed to qualify for the NCAA championships for the third time in four years.
“That was about as clutch of a performance by an underclassmen I have ever seen,” Coach Mark Hankins said.
However, like the way Vandersee forgets about each shot as he takes it, he already is forgetting about that performance and focusing on the next.
“When I’m playing good golf, I’ll hit a shot and after I hit it I don’t think about anything I just go up and hit the next when,” Vandersee said. “It’s time to refocus now – on the national championship.”
The championship begin with stroke play today with the top eight teams advancing to match play, Friday through Sunday. Last season, the Hawkeyes finished 10th at the championships, the highest team finish in school history.
Iowa now looks to make match play at the championships for the first time, which is a realistic goal, according to senior Barrett Kelpin.
“Anything can happen once you get to match play,” Kelpin said.
Kelpin is familiar with the national championship atmosphere.
“The first time we played in the tournament it was eye opening, but now Chris (Brant) and I have played in so many, we’re seasoned players now,” Kelpin said.
This year’s championships will be different for the seniors though. In past years, many teams from the Big Ten made the tournament. This season, Illinois is the only other Big Ten school in the field. Hankins said he is proud to represent his team’s conference.
“It is quite the honor to be one of the only two team’s from our conference,” Hankins said.
The Hawkeye coach said his team is ready to adapt to the championship course. For Vandersee and the other Hawkeye underclassmen, the nerves already have begun.
“It’s kind of hard not getting nervous for a tournament this big,” Vandersee said. “We just have to go up to the opening tee and realize that it’s a big tournament, but also it’s just golf and we all know how to play golf.”