Iowa standout Carson Schaake made his PGA debut this weekend at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL. Schaake, a sophomore, was Iowa's best golfer last season, earning 1st team All-Big Ten honors and, most impressively, bringing home a Big Ten Championship medal at the Big Ten Tournament. (Schaake actually shared medalist honors with Illinois' Nick Hardy.)
His strong performances for Iowa this seaosn helped Schaake earned a sponsor's exemption for the John Deere Classic. Schaake became the third Hawkeye to compete at the JDC in recent years -- former Iowa standout Steven Ihm competed at the event in 2013 and 2014 while current Iowa golfer Raymond Knoll also competed in 2014.
Carson Schaake make PGA Debut http://t.co/cOViG04Blx— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) July 10, 2015
Alas, the good vibes for Schaake's pro debut did not translate into his play on the course. Schaake shot a 4-over par 75 on Thursday, carding six bogeys and just two birdies. He improved slightly on Friday, shooting a 74 and carding two birdies against five bogeys. That gave him a combined score of +7 through two rounds, far behind the leaders at a course known for its birdie opportunities and low scores. He started better on Friday, recording birdies on the 5th and 7th holes, but struggled coming home, picking up bogeys on the 13th, 15th, and 18th holes. Still, hopefully the experience of playing a PGA Tour event should give Schaake some additional confidence as he returns to competition against college athletes next year; Schaake and Iowa golf coach Tyler Stith seemed to think that it would. Congrats to Schaake on dipping his toes in the waters of the PGA.
Schaake competed as an amateur this weekend in order to preserve his college eligibility and be able to return to Iowa; had he made the cut and won any money he would not have been able to keep the prize winnings. I imagine he would have to really consider that decision to stay as an amateur if he'd had a dream weekend and posted a top-5 or top-10 finish here.
In related news from the John Deere Classic, noted Hawkeye sports enthusiast Zach Johnson finished at -19, one stroke out of a playoff. Unstoppable golfing juggernaut Jordan Spieth won the playoff.