K-State men’s golf to finish regular season in Iowa

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Then-freshman Jeremy Gandon eyes his putt on the green of hole 7 at Colbert Hills Golf Course during a team practice on Oct. 1, 2015. (Archive Photo by Evert Nelson | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State men’s golf team heads into their final regular season tournament this weekend. They head to Iowa City, Iowa, on Friday and Saturday for the 25th annual Hawkeye Invitational, hosted by the University of Iowa.

K-State heads into the tournament with some momentum after finishing second in the Missouri Tiger Invitational last weekend. As a team, they shot 850, 14-under par for the tournament. Missouri won that tournament by 11 strokes.

Second place last weekend was the best finish by the Wildcats this season, and they will look to continue the momentum going into Friday’s first round.

“It was a great experience, however, to be able to get into contention,” head coach Grant Robbins said to K-State Sports after the Tiger Invitational. “It is definitely something we can build on going forward.”

The Hawkeye Invitational is a 54-hole tournament at Finkbine Golf Course, a 7,205-yard par 72 course. The USGA gave the course a 74.6 course rating, meaning that a scratch golfer should shoot about a 75, or three over on this course.

The course features a 537-yard par five on the front nine, the hardest hole on the course, and a 235-yard par three with an island green on the back nine.

Just as important as the course is the competition. K-State is joined by the host school, Arkansas State, Drake, DePaul, Iowa State, Kansas, Marquette, University of Minnesota, Michigan State, University of Nebraska, South Dakota State and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

None of those teams are ranked or receiving votes in the top 25 rankings.

K-State has faced several of these teams at other tournaments this year. They recorded head-to-head wins over Drake, Nebraska (twice), UMKC and South Dakota State (twice). They have lost to Arkansas State, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas (twice), Marquette, and Minnesota this season.

K-State’s top golfer, sophomore Ben Fernandez, averages 72.62 strokes per round. He has racked up one top five finish and one top 10 finish this season. Fernandez tied for a fourth place finish at the USA Individual Tournament at an even 213.

Sophomore Jacob Eklund turned in the best 18 holes of the season, twice scoring a 67 — once in round two of the Badger Invitational earlier this season, and again last weekend in the first round of the Tiger Invitational.

Eklund, along with two teammates, tied for seventh in the USA Individual Tournament at plus-two, 215 strokes.

Eklund and Fernandez, along with junior Jeremy Gandon, have appeared in all nine events this season, and will likely be involved in K-State’s effort in Iowa City this weekend.

The first round of the tournament tees of at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

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