Sept. 1, 2009
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RIVERSIDE, IA – The University of Iowa men’s golf team finished the third and final round of Golfweek’s Conference Challenge in second place Tuesday. With a 54-hole total of 861 (-3), the Hawkeyes fell short of the Florida State Seminoles who carded a team total of 853 (-11). The inaugural tournament for Golfweek was held on Blue Top Ridge in Riverside, IA.
Brad Hopfinger led the Black and Gold with a score of 207 (-9). The junior tied for first with Florida State’s Drew Kittleson after a thrilling final round. Kittleson, who placed second at the 2008 U.S. Amateur and participated in the 2009 Masters, was paired up with Hopfinger to begin Tuesday’s final round of action.
Hopfinger started the day two strokes up and stretched the lead to three strokes after a birdie on the first. The two went shot-for-shot over the next five holes, until Kittleson gained a stroke when Hopfinger bogeyed six. The two then birdied eight and found par on nine.
Another Hopfinger bogey on 10 brought Kittleson within a stroke, and a Kittleson birdie on 12 saw the two golfers tied at seven under. Back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th gave Kittleson a two-stoke lead, but Hopfinger came through with a clutch birdie on the 15th. Kittleson made bogey on the hole, which knotted each golfer at eight under.
The two then made par on 16 and birdied 17 to set up a dramatic finish. Both players missed the fairway to the left on 18, but Hopfinger made a great layup shot, and stuck his approach to within seven feet. Kittleson also put his approach close to the pin, within six feet. Hopfinger then stepped up and drained his par putt to finish at nine under. Kittleson also made par and the golfers tied at 207 (-9), the low score for the tourney.
“It was a good battle out there and it was a lot of fun,” Hopfinger said. “I have never had a good, heads-up battle like that. It was a good round of golf and a great way to finish the tournament.”
“I’m very proud of Brad,” added Head Coach Mark Hankins. “He hung in there and made some birdies to get his first collegiate win.”
Barrett Kelpin also put together a top-15 finish for the Hawkeyes after carding a 76 (+4) on the day. The sophomore finished tied for 14th with a score of 217 (+1). With a pair of birdies, as well as an eagle on the tough 13th hole, Vince India fired a 75 (+3). The junior finished the tournament tied for 22nd with a score of 219 (+3). Sophomore Chris Brant put together his second-consecutive round at par to finish the tournament tied for 26th with a score of 220 (+4). Additionally, Ryan Marks carded a third round total of 81 (+9) to bring his 54-hole score to 230 (+14). The freshman finished the tournament tied for 61st.
“I thought before the tournament, if we finished in the top five, that would be a success,” said Hankins. “This was a very sold field, full of great teams. I feel very good about where we finished. Obviously, we would have liked to walk out of here in first, but this was a very solid opening tournament for us.”
Iowa’s highlight of the tournament was their second round total of 280 which tied for the lowest team score shot in any round of competition during the Challenge. Hankins also commented on the hospitality and hard work put in by Riverside Golf Resort and Casino, as well as Golfweek.
“We owe the people at Riverside a huge thank you. They put in a lot of extra hours for this event,” said Hankins. “Having Golfweek here was huge as well. They are the eyes and ears of college golf.”
The Hawkeyes will host the second annual Hawkeye Alumni Challenge Sept. 4-5, before traveling to the Golden Gopher Invitational Sept. 13-14.
1. Florida State 287-285-281=853 (-11)
2. IOWA 288-280-293=861 (-3)
3. Coastal Carolina 292-284-290=866 (+2)
4. California 296-288-285=869 (+5)
5. Baylor 280-295-295=870 (+6)
6. Middle Tennessee St. 285-294-296=875 (+11)
7. Vanderbilt 293-285-298=876 (+12)
8. Xavier 290-291-300=881 (+17)
VCU 299-290-292=881 (+17)
10. Illinois State 298-294-298=890 (+26)
11. Texas-Arlington 297-297-300=894 (+30)
Georgia Southern 306-291-297=894 (+30)
13. New Mexico State 297-301-299=897 (+33)
14. Southern Florida 310-294-299=903 (+39)
15. Memphis 302-299-310=911 (+47)
Individual Results – Par 72 (Top 3 + Iowa)
1. Brad Hopfinger (UI) 70-67-70=207 (-9)
Drew Kittleson (Florida St.) 70-69-68=207 (-9)
3. Hudson Johnson (Vanderbilt) 71-68-70=209 (-7)
T14. Barrett Kelpin (UI) 69-72-76=217 (+1)
T22. Vince India (UI) 73-71-75=219 (+3)
T26. Chris Brant (UI) 76-72-72=220 (+4)
T61. Ryan Marks (UI) 79-70-81=230 (+14)