Q&A With Iowa Men's Golf

May 19, 2010

IOWA CITY, Iowa —The University of Iowa men’s golf team will travel to Notre Dame, IN, next week for the 2010 NCAA Regional, held on the Warren Golf Course on the Notre Dame campus Friday through Saturday, May 20-22. After receiving their second consecutive postseason bid in as many years, the 2010 Hawkeyes had time to discuss regional competition and reflect, not only on this season, but the last two years, which have been two of the most decorated seasons in the program’s history.

Check hawkeyesports.com, the official world wide web site of the Iowa Hawkeyes, in the days leading up to regional for new installments of Q&A’s with members of Coach Mark Hankins’ 2010 Iowa men’s golf team.

Sophomore Chris Brant (May 12)
Can you talk about your familiarity with Warren Golf Course and how it will help you at Regionals?
“I personally like the course. I’ve played it probably six or eight times throughout my junior and collegiate career. I think it’s a fair test of golf and it suits us well as a team. I think it gives us a definite advantage because we’ve played tournaments there and have had some success. I think we can draw on those experiences to help us this next tournament.”

Having competed at Regionals a year ago, how do you prepare for this tournament?
“I don’t think it’s going to be different than any other tournament. I’m going to prepare the way I know I need to, and that includes touching up every part of my game. I need to do everything specific to Warren Golf Course and how I’m going to play the best there. That includes tailoring my game and my experiences in this week of practice to what I need to do next week.”

What changes have you seen in Iowa golf the last two years and what has your overall experience been like?
“It’s been a lot of fun, first of all. Coach Hankins pushes us hard, which makes us want to succeed and excel in every arena. He’s the guy to do it, if anyone is; he pushes, we push right back, and we want to get better just as bad as he does. I think that’s shown in the last two years. We finished 17th at the national championships, almost won the Big Ten’s this year and we’re still not satisfied. I don’t know if we will ever be satisfied, which is good. It’s just that hunger and a drive in all of us to succeed.”

Junior Vince India (May 13)
What are your thoughts on competing on such a familiar course as Warren?
“I’m excited just by the fact that we’ve played Warren a lot. I know Barrett [Kelpin] and I have played a lot of junior golf there, so it’s definitely a familiar place for us. We’ve also played there as a team the last three years I’ve been here, so it’s definitely a nice place to go to. It’s a familiar setting and we know the course pretty well, which will hopefully play to our advantage.”

What will it take to be successful at Regionals?
“First, we just have to go out and prepare well in these next couple weeks. If we do that, hopefully we’ll get out of the top five which is our goal since that will advance us to the NCAA finals. We’re just going to prepare like we usually do. We’ll do a lot of short game stuff since the greens at Warren are tricky. Preparation is most important and we’ll most likely play pretty well.”

How important of a role will your Regional experience from last season play?
“It definitely brings a lot of experience because in the third round, if you’re in contention, the more experience you have the better. You don’t want to be dropping your shots or making unforced errors because it could cost you a spot in the finals. Hopefully those experiences we’ve had from last year will work in our favor as well.”

What has it meant to be a part of Iowa men’s golf the last three seasons?
“It’s monumental what Coach [Hankins] has done here. It’s nice to see us being a contender for the Big Ten title each year. It’s good to be on a great team.”

Brad Hopfinger (May 14)
What are your thoughts on playing in the Notre Dame Regional?
“I think we’re all comfortable with it, which is good. We’ve played the course enough to know what to hit off most tees. We’ve played it in good and bad weather, so it’s one we’re comfortable with.”

What will be the key to advancing past Regional competition?
“Just doing what we normally do. Last year we didn’t expect much because we had the 12th seed, but we ended up making it out. We played well and put ourselves in good spots the whole tournament. If we don’t worry and just play golf, we’re usually fine.”

What has it been like being able to be part of such a successful program?
“It’s more fun. Playing bad isn’t any fun. I think we’re all on the same page, we hate playing bad. It’s been fun playing well and getting to do all this because it has definitely been a cool experience.”

Sophomore Brad George (May 18)
What do you expect from Warren Golf Course, as well as the field, at the Notre Dame Regional?
“I think we’re one of the only teams in the field that has actually played this golf course, so I think that’s going to give us an advantage. We’ve been playing pretty well, so I think we have good vibes going into it”

What will be the key to success at Regionals?
“I’d say just don’t get ahead of ourselves. I think that’s what we’re getting better at, just being able to focus on the hole in front of us. We need to focus on what coach has been talking about – trying not to get ahead of ourselves and not to keep thinking about the finish, just sticking to our game plan and taking it one shot at a time.”

This is Iowa’s second consecutive Regional appearance, what does that saw about the program’s climb in recent years?
“It’s good to see the program going from what we had to where we are now. Going to Regionals two years in a row and having a chance to go to the finals two years in a row is saying something pretty good about what we’ve accomplished.”

Sophomore Barrett Kelpin (May 19)
Warren Golf Course is probably more familiar to you than anyone else on the team, how will that help you at Regionals?
“I’ve grown up playing junior tournaments there since I was 13 or 14 and we’ve played there the last two years, so it’s definitely not a place I feel uncomfortable around. I’ve played probably 15 or 20 competitive rounds on Warren, so there’s definitely that familiarity that wasn’t there last year going into Regionals. That should bode well for our confidence going in. It should help.”

What can you take from such a successful Spring season that will help you at Notre Dame?
“I think everyone has a lot of confidence from this Spring. We’ve been playing well. Everyone’s had a good finish here and there. I think everyone has some good stuff to think about and play off of going into Regionals. Everyone’s confidence is high and we feel good going in.”

What are your team goals heading into Regional play?
“I would like to win rather than squeak out the fifth or fourth place finish. I think we can play with every team there on any given day. If we go out and play well for three straight rounds, there’s no reason why we couldn’t be at the top of the leader board in the end. I personally think our team is capable of going out and winning it, so that’s how I’m going to approach it.”

What are your personal goals for the Notre Dame Regional?
“I feel like the way I’ve been playing, there’s no reason why I couldn’t contend to win the tournament. I think, hopefully through my knowledge and through my preparation, I’ll be able to contend for a place in the top five or win the tournament.”