Following a third place finish last week at the Windon Memorial in Evanston, Illinois, IU men’s golf had strong momentum heading into the Crooked Stick Invitational.
Not only did the team have the momentum from the previous tournament, but the Hoosiers were also familiar with the Crooked Stick Golf Club course in Carmel, Indiana.
Despite the favorable conditions heading into play, the Hoosiers were unable to capitalize and finished in a tie for seventh place out of 12 schools with a three-round score of 21 over par. The poor finish was due in large part to the slow first round the Hoosiers had, posting a team score of 17 over par in the opening round.
"With that kind of caliber field, it’s hard to recover when you’re far down,” Coach Mike Mayer said. “On paper, we beat everybody we were supposed to beat. We just missed opportunities to be very good and help ourselves.”
The team was able to recover from the poor first round and posted its best team score on a par-72 course all season by shooting a 3-under, 285 team score in the second round.
“I continue to like the resilience of the team,” Mayer said. “Even though we stumbled pretty bad that first round, we didn’t let ourselves get down and picked ourselves back up. No complaining, no whining, we just got down to business.”
One bright spot for the Hoosiers was the continued strong play from junior Jake Brown. After finishing in an eighth-place tie at the Windon Memorial, the Carmel native finished tied for second at a course he knew well.
“I made four birdies in those first nine holes, which was pretty encouraging,” Brown said. “I shot with a lot of confidence, even though I had one blemish on the front nine that first round. Other than that, I was pretty confident in my game.”
In a tournament where only 13 golfers finished with scores of par or better on the par threes, and only seven had overall scores under par, Brown’s short game led the way to his successful overall performance.
“I’m just playing solid golf right now,” Brown said. “My iron play is pretty solid. I’m playing for spots that aren’t going to get me in too much trouble, and when you play golf that way, you don’t put yourself in tough spots and make it easier on yourself.”
Freshman Evan Yakubov, who played as an individual, surprised many with his strong play in the first two rounds. Yakubov was able to complete day one with a score of 5 under par and was tied for first. However, a third-round score of 7-over, 79, dropped Yakubov in the leaderboard to a tie for 14th place.
“Evan had a great tournament, and his first two rounds were simply outstanding,” Mayer said. “Obviously he showed us a lot — showed us what he’s got. Having the lead going into the final round is a tough position to be in, and he made a couple mistakes early in the round.”
The Hoosiers now are more than two weeks away from tournament play before heading to Ka'anapali, Maui, Hawaii, for the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic.
“We’re going to get some rest,” Mayer said. “We’ve been going at it pretty hard, so it’ll be nice to be back on campus for a little while and focus on the academics. There’s a lot of stuff we still need to work on.”
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