IOWA CITY, Iowa --At the outset of the 2013-14 campaign, the University of Iowa men's golf team eyed its sixth-straight NCAA regional appearance. That goal came to fruition last week when the Hawkeyes were selected to the NCAA Columbia Regional, joining Illinois and Northwestern as the only Big Ten teams to be selected to NCAA Regional competition in each of the last six years.
"We are excited to be headed down to Missouri," said UI head coach Mark Hankins. "We've played the entire year to be ranked high enough to go to an NCAA Regional and then hopefully on to the Finals.
"It is our first and foremost goal each year to go to the NCAA Championships, and hopefully we're able to do that this week. We're looking forward to the competition. There are 14 teams, and we have to finish in the top five to advance to the Finals."
Iowa will compete at The Club at Old Hawthorne in Columbia, Missouri, on May 15-17. The Hawkeyes are the No. 6 seed in the regional. The top five teams, along with the top individual not on a qualifying team, will advance to the NCAA Finals, held at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas, on May 23-28.
Iowa has advanced to the NCAA Finals in three of the last five years. The Hawkeyes will need a strong performance this week in a tough regional field in order to advance.
"I have played in two NCAA Regionals, and this will be as good of a field as we'll see all year," said junior Ian Vandersee. "There is a reason they take five out of the field. They want the best teams. If we play our game, we can finish in the top five."
No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 11 Virginia, No. 14 LSU, No. 24 Arkansas State, and No. 26 Arizona State are seeded ahead of the Hawkeyes. No. 38 San Diego State, No. 46 and host-school Missouri, No. 52 Iowa State, No. 59 Middle Tennessee State, No. 63 Ohio State, No. 129 Denver, No. 149 Loyola (Md.), and No. 233 Bryant are seeded behind Iowa.
"We've seen a lot of these teams," said Vandersee. "They are coming with the same mindset. Our game is good enough that when we play well, or even when we don't play our best, we can compete with the best teams in the country."
"Knowing the caliber of tournaments we have played this year and the teams we have faced, it will not be much different than other events we have competed in," said freshman Raymond Knoll.
The Hawkeyes are confident heading into regional action, having finished fourth, first, second, first, first and third in their first six events this spring.
"We have been on a nice streak this spring," said Hankins. "We picked up some confidence in the past few weeks, winning some tournaments."
Senior Steven Ihm, juniors Brian Bullington and Vandersee, and freshmen Raymond Knoll and Carson Schaake make up Iowa's lineup. This is Iowa's fourth straight tournament with the same lineup.
"You need all five players in the game from round one at a regional," said Hankins. "You can't afford to shoot a poor round. We are looking for three solid rounds."
Click HERE to access the Iowa men's golf NCAA Regional guide.
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