Iowa State men's golf will begin their 2018-19 postseason campaign in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for the Big 12 Championship beginning Friday.

The Cyclones come into the tournament ranked No. 31 in the country by Golfstat, the highest ranking the Cyclones have ever had this late in the season in program history.

Golf

Coach Andrew Tank talks with the golf team April 5 at practice.

Even though Iowa State is climbing up the rankings week after week, the Big 12 is home to plenty of teams who are considered some of the best programs in the country and have stayed on the top of the national rankings for most of the regualr season.

The Cylones will face off against reigning national champion and No. 1 ranked Oklahoma State, No. 6 Texas, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 10 Texas Tech and No. 25 Baylor, to name just the teams in the top-25 of Golfstat's latest rankings.

While the competition is grueling, Iowa State coach Andrew Tank is far from worried about the high level of competition the Cyclones will face; rather, he and his team have been anticipating Big 12 play since the start of the season.

"We are all really excited and I think we are all looking forward to opportunity," Tank said. "We as team always build toward this moment in the season and the level of competition isn't a big deal because we want to continue to test ourselves."

Tank isn't the only one who has been thinking about playing in the Big 12 championships this season, as junior Tripp Kinney sees the tournament as one of his big reasons why he came to Ames in the first place.

Kinney said that playing in Big 12 championships year after year is a big draw to play in the conference, as Kinney sees the Big 12 Championship as one of the hardest golf tournaments to win all season. 

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Iowa State junior golfer Tripp Kinney lines up a putt. Kinney ranks first on the team this year in stroke average (70.55).

The Big 12 championships may be the start to what Tank sees as a new portion of the Cyclones season, however, memories of Big 12 match play in October of this season can't help but creep into how the Cyclones approach this tournament. 

At Big 12 match play in mid-October, the Cyclones had one perhaps one of their worst outings of the season.

The Cyclones went 0-5 as a team for the tournament and 9-18-3 in individual matches.

Iowa State was defeated by the two lowest-seeded teams in match play, Kansas State and West Virgina. 

"What happened in October is in the back of our minds but it still drives us," Kinney said.

Kinney felt the Cyclones ran into problems because the team was not comfortable and not confident enough in their games. Kinney believes that team has found their confidence and the team's play of late is a good sign to him heading into Big 12 championship play.

Tank saw Big 12 match play as a defining moment in this season's story. Tank said Big 12 match play was a "sour" moment for the Cyclones at the time but now looks back and sees it as a big positive for momentum heading into the postseason.

"That was a big wakeup call for us," Tank said. "We have turned it into fuel because sometimes you learn the most when you lose."

Sophomore Lachlan Barker may not have as much experience heading to Big 12 championship as his teammate Kinney, but understands the importance of not overthinking how you play when the Cyclones step on the course like any veteran would.

Golf

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

Barker said the Cyclones had a "poor showing" at match play in October and believes the most important thing is to forget about it as best as you can because the postseason brings its own level of pressure to worry about.

"This is the start of the big finish," Barker said. "If you start thinking ahead to regionals and nationals that can hurt you because they are not certainties, so every shot counts at this stage."

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