Brant in Contention at Big Ten Championships

April 30, 2011

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – University of Iowa junior Chris Brant is one stroke out of the lead with a score of 218 (+2) through three rounds at the 2011 Big Ten Men’s Golf Championships. With three players inside the top 15 individually, Iowa sits in second place with a 54-hole total of 894 (+30). Illinois leads the field at 15-over par 879. Competition is being held on the 7,465-yard par 72 Kampen Course at Purdue’s Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Kampen Course showed its teeth today, with 20-30 mph winds on the Pete Dye-designed track. Players consistently battled the wind during the day and the third round scores reflected the conditions. Only two athletes in the 54-player field shot even par, with 16 players breaking 80 on the day.

“I really feel like we started out well today,” said Head Coach Mark Hankins. “We were ready to play and got out to a good start. Guys focused and battled hard. We had some good scores. A couple of guys were scrappy down the stretch. It was just a very tough day and I thought we played okay.”

Brant sits in second, a stroke back from Illinois’ Luke Guthrie, after posting a third round of seven-over par 79. The Edwardsville, Ill., native was even through two holes Saturday morning, but a pair of bogeys on three and four brought him to two-over on the round, three-under on the tournament. After three more pars, Brant dropped another stroke with a bogey on eight and made the turn three-over for the round.

Brant held on to at least a share of the individual lead as late as 11 holes into the third round, but went four-over between 11 and 14, bringing him to seven-over par. He settled down and put together a solid run of pars on the final four holes, the toughest stretch of golf at Kampen, and went into the clubhouse at two-over for the tournament.

“Conditions today were very tough,” said Brant. “It’s a demanding golf course anyway and when the wind is up it requires you to hit perfect golf shots. I didn’t do that very much today and I got penalized for it. I kind of settled down the last three holes and realized that I needed to execute very well just because they’re very, very tough.”

Senior Brad Hopfinger led Iowa on Saturday with an 18-hole mark of 73 (+1), the second-lowest round of the day. He started the day tied for 23rd, but a solid third round vaulted him into a tie for sixth, the second-best individual jump of the day.

After recording a par on the first hole to begin the round, Hopfinger sank birdie putts on two and seven to make the turn at two-under. A pair of bogeys on 11 and 12 brought him back to even par, but another birdie on 14 put him at one-under on the round and four-over for the tournament. He moved back up to one-over par with bogeys on 15 and 16, bringing his three round total to 222 (+6).

“A little bit of everything came together for me today,” said Hopfinger. “I hit it good and finally started to make some putts which was great. I hit some good shots early, got on a roll and just kept feeding off of that.”

Senior Vince India is tied for 13th heading into Sunday’s final round. Ranked third in the nation by, India posted a third round of five-over par 77 for a 54-hole total of 223 (+7).

After a bogey on three, India’s birdie attempt on seven found the bottom of the cup and brought him back to even par for the round and two-over for the tournament. With a bogey on nine, India made the turn at one over par on the day. India made five pars on the back nine, along with four bogeys, bringing him to five-over par for the third round.

Juniors Barrett Kelpin and Brad George rounded out the Hawkeye scoring.

Kelpin, who posted a third round of 79 (+7), is tied for 32nd with a three-round total of 231 (+15).

George began both the front and back nine with birdies. He finished with a mark of eight-over par 80. The Marion, Iowa, native is tied for 47th heading into the final round with a score of 237 (+21).

The 2011 Big Ten champion will be decided Sunday, with the final round beginning at 7 a.m. (CT). Iowa, Illinois and Northwestern will start off the first tee at 7:50 a.m. (CT). To follow the tournament and view live stats, click HERE.

“We’re in good shape and tomorrow we’ll be with Illinois and Northwestern,” added Hankins. “We’re in a decent spot, sitting in second, and we just need to go out and do the same thing tomorrow.”