After a three-week hiatus from tournament play, Iowa State's men's golf team returns to the links in Tempe, Arizona, to compete in the Thunderbird Invitational.

The event is hosted by the No. 2 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils and will play host to many highly-ranked teams from across the country.


Lachlan Barker tees off on the first hole April 5 at Coldwater Golf Links.

Nine of the 13 schools competing at the Thunderbird this year made the NCAA championships in 2018.

Some of the top teams include No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Arizona State, No. 7 Texas and No. 23 North Carolina.

The tournament will consist of three rounds over two days, with the first two rounds of play starting on Friday and the final round wrapping up on Saturday.

This season will mark the first time back for the Cyclones since the 2016-17 season but the real prize came a year before in 2016.

The 2015-16 season brought a huge highlight for Iowa State's program when the team won the event by shooting 20 under for the event.

"When we won in 2016, that was, at the time, my most proud coaching moment to win against the level of competition that we did," said Iowa State coach Andrew Tank.

Tank said the Thunderbird is one his favorite events of the golf season as it brings out the best competition around.

Tank said the Cyclones wanted to compete in this tournament, as well as three other events in Arizona this season because of an upcoming change to NCAA postseason golf.

Tank said the NCAA National Championship will be held in Arizona starting in 2020. 

Tanks wants his team to grow as comfortable as possible with the environment and atmosphere of Arizona golf.

While the competition is just as tough this time around for the Cyclones, many of the players just want to focus on their game and how they approach the tournament, not on who they play against.

"I think if we go into this tournament with the mindset of wanting to get better, rather then putting extra expectations on ourselves, then we will be fine," said junior Tripp Kinney.

Kinney and his teammates want this tournament to be a stepping stone into the postseason, hoping to take advantage of one unique aspect about the course.

The course is completely new.

None of the teams competing have played on the new course built for the Papago Golf Club, which is hosting the event.

Sophomore Lachlan Barker sees the new course and the fact that no team has an advantage in knowing the feel for what the course provides as a big weapon the Cyclones can use.

Lachlan Barker

Lachlan Barker Practices Sept. 28 at the Iowa State Golf Facility. 

"It will really come down to who can learn the course the best and the fastest," Barker said. "The last events we have had, we have been close, so I think if we can get a couple more scores on the board we can really compete."

Tank said he agreed with Barker and sees the Thunderbird as a moment in the Cyclone's season that comes as an opportunity for a new beginning to an almost new part of their season as the postseason is slowly approaching.


Part of the men's golf team talks and gets prepared to tee off on the first hole April 5 at Coldwater Golf Links.

"I feel like we have had a break in between our last tournament and now and it has been good to be back here in Ames," Tank said. "This tournament feels like a fresh start to a new segment of our season."

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