For the first time in three years, Iowa State will miss the NCAA Championships.
The Cyclones finished the final round at the Louisville regional in Simpsonville, Kentucky, ending the regional in eighth place out of 13 teams competing.
Only the top five teams in each of the six regional sites qualify for a trip to the NCAA championships, along with the top individual that is not on one of those five teams.
Tripp Kinney punches his ticket
While Iowa State as a team missed the NCAA championships, junior Tripp Kinney gave the top individual performance at the regional.
Kinney won the regional's individual title, meaning he will have to pack his bags for Arkansas soon.
By winning the regional, Kinney will make a trip to Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas May 24-29 to represent the Cyclones in the NCAA Championships as an individual.
Kinney was on a roll in his first two rounds at the regional, carding a first round -2 (69) and then doing even better in the second round by carding a six-under-par round(65).
"I am really proud of him," said Coach Andrew Tank. "He shot a great tournament and he stuck to his strong parts of his game."
Driving the ball straight off the tee was the biggest strength according to Tank. Tank says that Kinney has always been a good ball striker and that if he sticks with that part of his game, then the native of Waukee, Iowa will have nothing to worry about.
Kinney shot one bogey combined for his first two rounds of play at the regional.
Despite shooting +1 (72) for his final round, Kinney was able to stay on top of the leaderboard for the rest of the final round.
Kinney becomes the eighth Cyclone in program history to place in the top-10 at an NCAA regional.
Kinney becomes the second Cyclone to win a NCAA Regional championship, joining Nick Voke who won the 2017 NCAA Austin Regional.
"Walking off the 18th hole yesterday -- I said to myself -- 'I can compete with anybody' and that me feel so good," Kinney said.
Kinney agreed with his coach's assessment of his game, saying that he knew his driving would be there but was hoping his putting would help him out.
"I needed my putter to get hot," Kinney said.
Kinney's putter got hot indeed, helping Kinney rack up 11 birdies.
"This win shows me and my coaches what I have always believed this entire time," said Kinney. "I am trending in the direction I want to be."
Final round sinks the Cyclones
Iowa State walked into the final round of the Louisville regional sitting pretty.
With one round to go, the Cyclones sat in a comfortable fourth place, with a team below them to provide cushion for the Cyclones to stay within the top-five.
That posistion quickly faded away for the Cyclones in the final round, with regular season woes coming back to hurt the Cyclone's chances again.
Iowa State had the biggest shift on the leaderboard of all the teams in the final round.
The Cyclones fell four spots in the final round and shot 13-over par.
"We didn’t play well," Tank said. "We had good stretches here and there but today we had a great opportunity and we struggled early and in the end we couldn’t get it done."
Tank says the loss does "sting" but feels confident for Kinney at the championships and the program going forward.
The postseason is a new chapter in Iowa State's season according to Tank, who wanted the regular season and all the ups and downs that come with it -- to be forgotten.
Not everything was left in the past however, as the Cyclones fell victim to an all too familiar foe in the final round at the Louisville regional, inconsitency.
"We just let things go," Tank said.
In multiple tournaments during the regular season, the Cyclones would have one of two things happen to them according to Tank.
One scenario would be that the Cyclones put together good opening rounds to put themselves in position to win tournaments but then would lose the traction in the final round to end up lower than where they were all tournament.
The other scenario would be that Iowa State would struggle in the opening of a tournament, but would then try to climb back with a great final round of scores. In most cases, it would be too late for the team to gain the position they were hoping for.
Both scenarios have different beginnings and endings but they both tell a story of inconsistent play.
A bright future ahead
Kinney may be the only Cyclone heading to the NCAA championship, but the program has plenty of reason to be optimistic, with no player on the roster graduating.
The Cyclones have been finding postseason success by making consecutive appearances in NCAA regionals and championships in recent seasons, leaving Tank feeeling more optimistic than disappointed.
Last season, Iowa State placed 3rd place in 2017-18 regional which tied for the best showing in an NCAA postseason event in school history.
"That is the best part," Tank said. "We are changing what is possible for this program and it is nice to have that perspective, it was a huge accomplishment for us to make it back to regionals this season."
Before Tank's arrival in 2010, the program hadn’t appeared in an NCAA Regional since 1999.
Since then, Iowa State has sent a team or an individual to an NCAA Regional competition in the last seven seasons (Team- 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018; Individual- 2013, 2016).
The program also has found its way to a once impossible goal, the NCAA Championships.
Iowa State ended a 61 year drought of missing the NCAA Championships by qualifying in 2014. The Cyclones returned again in 2017 and 2018.
"It is the type of guys Tank brings in to the program that make it so easy to play for," Kinney said. "I think we are disapointed because our goals and expectations have gotten much higher."