April 29, 2011
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – University of Iowa junior Chris Brant owns a two-stroke lead in the individual race after the opening round of the 2011 Big Ten Championships. Led by Brant’s five-under par 67, the Hawkeyes are in first place with a team score of 289 (+1), four strokes ahead of second place Illinois. Purdue is hosting the league’s tournament on the par 72, 7,465-yard Kampen Course at their own Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.
After a par on the opening hole, Brant sunk a pair of birdies on two and four before a bogie on five that brought him back to one-under par. Two more birdies on six and seven brought him to three-under, but he posted a double-bogey on nine and made the turn in a three-way tie for first at one-under.
The Edwardsville, Ill., native started things back up with a birdie on 10, followed by a stretch of five consecutive pars. Sitting at two-under after 15, Brant closed his round with three-consecutive birdies. Most impressively, he sent his tee shot approximately 45 feet to the left of the pin on the signature par three 17th, and drained his birdie putt. Just one of four players to fire a sub-par opening round, Brant holds a two-stroke lead over Illinois’ Scott Langley, the defending NCAA individual champion.
As a team, the Hawkeyes held a one stroke lead over Illinois at the turn in round one, but Brant’s hot finish helped Iowa stretch its advantage heading into the second round.
Senior Vince India, who is in fifth place, was the only competitor in the field to fire an opening round of even par. He began the day with three consecutive pars before sinking a birdie putt on four. After a bogey on five, India rolled off four-straight pars and made the turn at even par. A birdie on 10 and another on 13 brought India to two-under. He bogeyed 14, but got the stroke back with a birdie on 15 that put him in third place. A pair of bogeys on 16 and 17 brought him to even par where he would stay through 18.
Hopfinger had a tough start, with bogeys on his first three holes, but found a pair of birdies on four and five that brought him to one-over par. He posted a double bogey on seven but closed the front nine with two pars and made the turn at three-over. After a par on 10, Hopfinger birdied two of his next three holes, followed by a pair of pars to bring him to two-over at 15. He closed the round with a bogey, birdie, bogey stretch on 16, 17 and 18 and went into the clubhouse at three-over par.
Kelpin, who finished third at the 2010 Big Ten Championships, had a rough start and found himself at four-over par through seven. A birdie on eight brought him back to three-over and he closed the round with 10 consecutive pars.
Junior Brad George began the day with eight pars on the front nine and made the turn at one-over par. The highlight of his round also came on 17. After a drive that landed within six feet of the hole, George drained the birdie putt and moved to four-over par. With a bogey on 18, he closed his round at 77 (+5) and is tied for 36th.
Only nine players recorded a birdie on the signature 17th hole, three of which were Hawkeye golfers (Brant, George and Hopfinger). In addition, Hopfinger was the only athlete in the 54-player field to birdie the 483-yard par 4 11th hole, and Brant was one of only two players to record a birdie at the 185-yard par 3 2nd hole, which requires a tee-shot to carry water along with the typical Pete Dye-designed waste bunkers and railroad ties.
Round two is underway and will conclude later Friday evening. Fans can follow live stats at golfstatresults.com
1. Iowa 289 (+1)
2. Illinois 293 (+5)
3. Penn State 297 (+9)
4. Indiana 298 (+10)
5. Michigan 299 (+11)
Minnesota 299 (+11)
7. Northwestern 301 (+13)
Ohio State 301 (+13)
Purdue 301 (+13)
10. Michigan State 304 (+16)
11. Wisconsin 312 (+24)
Individual Scores – Par 72 (Top 3 + Iowa)
1. Chris Brant (Iowa) 67 (-5)
2. Scott Langley (Illinois) 69 (-3)
3. Jack Schultz (Michigan) 71 (-1)
Jay Woodward (Penn State) 71 (-1)
5. Vince India (Iowa) 72 (E)
T21. Brad Hopfinger (Iowa) 75 (+3)
Barrett Kelpin (Iowa) 75 (+3)
T36. Brad George (Iowa) 77 (+5)