As the Iowa State men's golf was unable able to find their footing in the first two competitions of the season, the three-week break before going into another familiar course was a sigh of relief, as well as a hope for better things moving forward.
After the first day of play, things were looking bleak for one of the most experienced teams coach Andrew Tank has ever had.
"We have an experienced team, and haven't quite gotten off to the start that I would've expected or hoped for," said coach Tank previewing the Cyclones' potential turnaround.
They were in desperate need of at least a decent couple days of golf before the competition gets a whole lot steeper and the stakes get a whole lot higher in Houston next weekend.
Tripp Kinney remains reliable for Cyclones
The Waukee native has had one of the most illustrious careers in recent school history, and the team hoped to lean on him going into his senior season. So far, he has continued to be the team's leader.
Kinney hovered around two-under and two-over the entire 54 holes. He ended with a one under, an even par round and another one-under round to put him at two strokes under par for the tournament. That put him in the top-10. It's his 10th top-10 finish of his career and his second already this season.
Kinney said his ability to lean on his teammates as well as be there for them is what has helped him get this team back on track, as well as make him a better golfer.
"If I do see something that isn't going correctly I hope I can be able to tell them, and same goes for them pointing out things I can improve on," Kinney said.
"One bad round" theme continues to doom Cyclones
One particular round has started defining the entire beginning to Iowa State's season. Poor rounds have often put the Cyclones in undesirable places in the standings.
In Wisconsin it was the final round, the Windon Memorial saw the Cyclones struggle on the second round of 18, and in South Bend it was the first 18. If you eliminate those three rounds (which is hard to do considering it's a third of what they've golfed), the team actually sees a lot of success and consistency.
The team will certainly need to put together a full and successful score card over all three days in Texas in order to even stand a chance, because the other Big 12 teams look primed to make the Cyclones' lives miserable, especially if the team has another throwaway round.
Sam Vincent continues struggles to begin season
The Cyclones were obviously looking to Kinney to lead the way, but fellow senior Sam Vincent looked eager and ready to contribute his fair share as well. However, so far this season, he is consistently finding himself near the bottom of the team in scoring.
In Madison for the Badger Invitational, he placed in a tie for 79th. At the Windon Memorial Classic, he actually did lead the team in scoring, but still wound up tied for 35th. Finally, over the last two days, Vincent's struggles persisted and he placed tied for 44th.
If Iowa State can use what the team learned from the first three events, and be consistent all the way through, there's no doubt in the Cyclones' minds that they can hang with the big dogs of the Big 12 — including Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, who have each won at least one of their early season invitationals (Baylor and Texas Tech have each one two).