BETTENDORF — With only two team victories in the 15 Hasley Cup matches, success for Team Illinois has been hard to come by in the annual golf event that pits the best players on the Quad City Amateur Tour from Iowa against their Illinois counterparts.|
Defending last year's championship may prove a tall order for Captain Callen Smith and his band from the Land of the Lincoln in the three-session contest of Ryder Cup-style matches that begin today at Palmer Hills Golf Course. For Smith, just assembling a team proved to be a tough task with the event being on a Friday-Saturday instead of a typical Saturday-Sunday schedule.
"It's been an adventure," said Smith, the former Erie prep standout, of filling his 12-man roster from the championship flight players. "The guys I asked to play were really excited, so that's nice that they really want to play in it and get a chance to play in it. … We do have long odds, but we're going to have fun and give it our best shot."
Team Illinois is without qualifiers Tyler Bussert (Riverdale High School) and Cody Bender (Black Hawk College) who are back with their school teams as well as Brad Hadley, who finished No. 10 in the season-long points race. Bussert was No. 17 in Tour points and Bender No. 29 and an automatic qualifier for the Hasley team.
Even if Team Illinois hadn't struggled to gather a full roster, on paper, Team Iowa looks to be a heavy favorite. The Hawkeye-state golfers come in with nine of the Top 16 players in the season-long points race that helps determine Hasley Cup qualifiers. Four more players in that Top 16 are Iowa-siders who can't play and all 2014 event winners — No. 2 Jamie Hallstrom, No. 3 Joe Demory, No. 14 Ben Hanson and No. 15 Adam White. Four Senior Division players — Tim Flaherty, Dave Waugh, Tom Norton and Ron Wastyn — were used to round out the Iowa roster.
"I'm confident that our team will put up a good fight," said Bryan Lemkau, Iowa captain and QCAm Tour Player of the Year. "There isn't anybody on the team who can't hold their own.";
As if Team Iowa's perceived strength wasn't enough, they also have incentive to win back the trophy that they had only lost one other time — back in 2004 by a 16.5-15.5 count. Last year, captained by 2013 POY Ryan Sergeant (now a teaching pro), Team Illinois claimed an 18-14 victory.
"I'm sure it does," said Lemkau of last year's lingering loss providing fuel for this year's matches. "Iowa, with as many players as it provides to the Tour, it definitely would be bittersweet to have the same result as last year. ... We've got a strong enough team to definitely bring the trophy back to Iowa."
Play begins this afternoon with better-ball matches. On Saturday morning, modified alternate shot matches will be contested before the singles matches wrap up the competition in the afternoon. All three sessions are at Palmer Hills.
"I look forward to it," said Lemkau, a first-year QCAm member in his first Hasley Cup event. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Hasley Cup rosters
Team Illinois: Captain Callen Smith, Andy Baker (Saturday only), Matt Carter, Kyle Coopman, Brent Haydon, Dave Holmes (Friday only), Clayton Lee, DJ Phelps, Tyler Pitlik, Zach Sharp, Brian Soucinek, Adam Talbot, Ryan VanDeRostyne. Seniors: Captain Steve Schwabe, Barry Black (Friday only), Tom Bracke (Saturday morning), Bill Brewster, John Callas (Friday and Saturday morning).
Team Iowa: Captain Bryan Lemkau, Sean Cary (Saturday only), Dusty Drenth (Saturday only), Tim Flaherty, Brad Gosset, Peiter Hanson, Kevin Lloyd (Friday only), Tom Norton, Ben Peters, Greg Rios, Matt Schlueter (Friday only), Kirk Trede, Ron Wastyn, Dave Waugh. Seniors: Captain Jody Peterson, Mike Long, Dave Struve, Tom Swanwick.
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