Austin Peay's Iten wins regional, advances to NCAAs
Sunday, May 18, 2014
AUBURN, Ala. – College golf is a team sport played by individuals. Normally, players would like to advance with their team to the NCAA Championship, but some individuals get a chance to play for the NCAA individual title without their team.
Austin Peay State, located in Clarksville, Tenn., has advanced its second consecutive individual to the NCAA Championship as graduating senior Marco Iten won the Auburn (Ala.) Regional to qualify for his first national final.
“I’m just happy to represent (Austin Peay State),” Iten said. “I thought it would be possible, but I thought of it as a team thing.”
Iten, who hails from Switzerland, was one shot back entering the final round at Auburn University Club.
As some of the top players in the country – Alabama’s Cory Whitsett, Virginia Tech’s Scott Vincent and Texas’ Beau Hossler among them – vied for the top spot on the leaderboard, it was Iten, No. 161 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, who prevailed.
After making the turn tied with Whitsett, Iten played flawlessly on the front nine – his back nine – which included four birdies, on Nos. 4 and 6-8, to win the individual title by four strokes. He shot a final-round 5-under 67 for an 8-under 208 total.
“I like tree-lined golf courses in general because it makes you shape your shots, and I think that is one of the strengths of my game,” Iten said.
Iten is no overnight sensation. He has excelled in five consecutive tournaments, highlighted by victories at the Talis Park Challenge, Old Waverly Intercollegiate Championship and Ohio Valley Conference Championship. His final-round stroke average in the past four tournaments he has won is a 67.50.
“He played phenomenal all week,” head coach Kirk Kayden said. “He’s a very strategic player, and when he made a mistake he would get the ball up and down.”
“I don’t think it has set in yet,” Iten said. “I thought if I played well and tried my hardest, I thought I could contend for the individual spot, but to beat guys from Alabama and Texas. . . . It’s just awesome.”