Iowa State had its best performance of the season this week in Bluffton, South Carolina. It finished in second place at the Colleton River Collegiate with a 54-hole tournament total of 856 strokes, which was eight shots under par.
The bulk of the its success came in round one, when it recorded 18 birdies and even an eagle from Sam Vincent, putting the team firmly in first place heading into round two.
Fatigue seemed to kick in, as Iowa State shot 20 strokes worse on its second 18 holes on day one, dropping the Cyclones to second place heading into the final day of the tournament.
The veteran-filled team bounced back to close out the Collegiate, shooting 284 at four under par. It finished with three top-10 individuals for the first time since 2018, while recording its highest team finish of the 2019-20 season in second place.
Red numbers across the board in round one
The first 18 holes were very kind to the Cyclones, as they recorded a spring-season low of eight bogeys. The spring season began in late January, and the Cyclones have struggled limiting their mistakes ever since. This seemed to be the first tournament where it all clicked, as all four golfers finished four under par for the round.
Lachlan Barker and Frank Lindwall led the team with rounds of 68, which put them at four under par and at fourth place heading into round two. Vincent was not too far behind as he finished three under par, while Tripp Kinney also finished one under par with a round of 71 on the day.
Head Coach Andrew Tank was pleased with his team's performance, and there were some specific areas that stood out to him.
"I think we played the par fives well, and we were making some of our mid-range putts," Tank said. "Those were some things we were working on in practice, so it was certainly good to see."
Round two slip-up
Iowa State had two rounds on its schedule for day one, and the second 18 did not go as well as the Cyclones would've liked. Vincent was the only golfer to finish the round under par, but he recorded a triple bogey on his last hole of the day.
The last few holes of the second round were suspended due to darkness for some teams, while others seemed to rush to finish their last few. Tank said he thinks this could've been a big reason why the Cyclones' performance sank.
"It's something we need to handle a lot better in the future," Tank said. "When someone is trying to finish their last hole or two before dark, it is reflected on the scorecard."
Par 3 success
Overall, Iowa State finished with the lowest-average score out of the whole field on par-3 holes. This played a large impact on overall success as the top two teams in the category finished first and second for the tournament.
Tank saw a few reasons why his team had such great success in this area.
"I think the guys had a really clear plan for all of those holes, very specific and detailed with where they were trying to hit their ball," Tank said.
Barker, the Australia-native, finished tied for third place in this week's tournament. The finish was tied for Barker's highest finish as a Cyclone, also tied with last year's third place at the same event. He recorded the third most pars and seventh most birdies throughout the tournament. The par 4s proved to be most kind to Barker, as he finished the tournament with the second-lowest score on such holes at 3.87.
"Sometimes, when they're playing well, it's about talking about other things to keep their mind off golf, but ultimately, it is about being as consistent as possible, whether they're playing well or poorly," Tank said.
Iowa State's next tournament will be the National Invitational Tournament, which will take place March 16-17 in Tuscon, Arizona.