Tue, May. 8, 2012 - [Men's Golf]
The Loras College men's golf team was seventh at the 2012 IIAC Championship after four rounds of action over the last two weekends. The tournament began at Bos Landen Golf Club in Pella, Iowa and concluded at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa on Saturday. When it was all said and done, Sam Herrmann was atop the leaderboard and three strokes ahead of the runner up.
The tournament began with nightmare conditions in Pella, with no golfers breaking 80 in conditions which would have scared away your average weekend warrior golfer. A pair of Dutch golfers shot 80 on their home course, and Sam Herrmann stayed just two strokes off the pace with an opening round 82. He followed with a 72 (+1) on Saturday in round two to tie for the lead at the halfway point as the teams waited to take the course the following weekend in Iowa City. It was the second consecutive year Herrmann, a junior, sat atop the leaderboard after two rounds.
"The first day the weather was impossible and we talked a lot about just surviving and not posting a score that could put him out of the tournament," head coach Jeremy Hawkins said Monday.
"Sam did a really nice job managing his game throughout both weekends. (His) short game was good for the duration of the tournament, but was really good the first two rounds at Bos Landen. He got up and down a ton, and that really helped keep him in the tournament."
Both Hawkins and Herrmann were aware of what the 2011 experience could do for the execution of the final two rounds of the 2012 tournament.
"Last season he had the lead after the first two rounds and ended up finishing third. It was a great finish, but I think Sam also felt he let one get away," Hawkins pointed out.
"Last year I came into the final weekend as the sole leader of the tournament – a position that I had never been before – and it showed," Herrmann said after the conclusion of the 2012 tournament.
"I was much more relaxed this past weekend that I was the year prior. I believe my scores reflected that," the Mount Vernon native declared.
As the final two days of tournament began, Herrmann found himself in the first wave of players to take the course as the Duhawks settled into the seventh place team slot.
"(That) was different than last years' experience," Herrmann noted, recalling being able to keep an eye on how some of the other golfers in the hunt were playing with his later tee times in 2011.
Herrmann responded with a combined +3 over the final two rounds (74/73) in Iowa City and remained atop the leaderboard. His four-round total of 301 was three shots better than Tobi Kohl of Luther College – who shot a final round 78 after carding a third round 71 at Finkbine.
"After the first round, we really talked a lot about staying in the present, not getting ahead of himself, and thinking about the end result," Hawkins said. "We talked about being in that environment and what he learned from last year, and what he was going to do differently this year."
"Coach Hawkins was a huge part of this victory," Herrmann admitted. "He really made me focus on the shot I had in front of me and didn't let my mind wander. Without him there to settle me down or give reassurance on the shots I was hitting, my finish could have been very different."
Unsure of how his final round would contribute to the final standings based on the early start, Herrmann said his second shot on the final hole Saturday stuck out among the most important.
"I put my drive in the left trees and had some overhanging branches preventing me from hitting a full shot into the green," Herrmann recalled. "I settled on hitting a sweeping hook around the branches just to try and get it somewhere around the green. I somehow managed to put that shot on the green and ended up making par."
"The fact that it was the eighteenth hole and I knew I had to post a good score to have a chance - that shot stuck out to me."
Herrmann was forced to wait while the final wave came in to the clubhouse.
"I was most nervous as 54-hole leader (Tobias Kohl) was walking down 18," Herrmann said. "No one knew how he was playing, and I didn't know who had won until the Luther coach came up to me and congratulated me."
"This whole experience tested my patience, but in the end, the result was worth all the stress."
Herrmann became Loras' fourth medalist/MVP since the award has been handed out in 1969. He follows Tom Farrell (1992), Tim Davis (1998), and Pete Weber (2005).
The rest of the Loras team finished in the following places:
James Komorowski: 31st/337
Drew Massey: 32nd/339
Alex Beck: 37th/347
‘Bubba' Carter: 38th/351