Feb. 12, 2010
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CORAL SPRINGS, FL – The University of Iowa men’s golf team will continue on to the semifinal round of the 2010 Big Ten Match-Play Championships after a thrilling win over Ohio State Friday afternoon. The second-seeded Hawkeyes were tied with the Buckeyes, 3-3, after 18 holes, but won the team match after three tie-breakers.
With tough losses from sophomores Chris Brant, Brad George and Dusty Koth in the fourth, fifth and sixth positions, respectively, the Hawkeyes found themselves down 3-0 early. A gritty finish from the top three spots, however, put Iowa in a 3-3 tie and gave them the opportunity to win the team match in a tie-breaker.
The first tie-breaking criterion was holes won, but both teams had nine, taking it to the second tie-breaker which is combined holes remaining when each individual match ended. Both teams tied again with five holes remaining, but the Black and Gold finally won the third tie-breaker which was based on the result of the No. 1 individual match between junior Brad Hopfinger and Ohio State’s Bo Hoag.
After Hopfinger stuck his approach shot to the 17th green within a foot of the cup, Hoag was forced to make his birdie putt and fell short, conceding the match and giving Hopfinger what turned out to be a crucial 3 and 1 victory. In another exciting finish, junior Vince India sunk an impressive birdie putt on the 17th to seal a 2 and 1 victory. Sophomore Barrett Kelpin also came up strong with a convincing 4 and 3 win after 15 holes.
In the end, had either Hopfinger or India taken their matches to the 18th hole, Ohio State would have won the eventual second tie-breaker. Also, Kelpin’s 4 and 3 decision proved to be a big help for the Hawkeyes in their quarterfinal match.
“It was an exciting day,” said Head Coach Mark Hankins. “It feels good to finally be on the winning side of a tie-breaker in match-play format. After losing two of three matches last year to tie-breakers, it feels good to get our first Big Ten Match-Play victory.”
The Hawkeyes, ranked 35th in the country, will take on sixth-seeded Northwestern Saturday morning for a trip to the championship match. The winner will face whoever wins the semifinal match between ninth-seeded Purdue and fourth-seeded Minnesota, also being played Saturday morning.
“I look forward to facing a hot Northwestern team who won two matches today,” said Hankins. “Mostly, I’m proud of the effort our guys made today and we’re excited to get back out there tomorrow morning.”