Racking Up the Hardware

May 4, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Vince India is on pace to graduate with a marketing degree from the University of Iowa in May. Chances are wood working classes weren’t offered as a part of his marketing course work. That sort of class would be helpful for the Hawkeye men’s golfer, because after this week he needs a rather large trophy case.

The senior from Deerfield, Ill., took home the top two honors in Big Ten golf in a span of two days. He was given the Les Bolstad Trophy on Sunday and was named Big Ten Player of the Year on Monday. He was also named first team all-Big Ten and was selected as Iowa’s Male Athlete of the Year on Monday.

India is just the second golfer in Iowa history to earn the Les Bolstad Trophy and Big Ten Player of the Year, joining Brad Klapprott, who won both awards in 1992.

“I couldn’t be happier about this,” India said. “This has been a really good year for Iowa golf and for me, personally. It’s a real good cap to my Big Ten career.”

The Les Bolstad Trophy is awarded at the end of each season by the Big Ten Conference to the male golfer who records the lowest stroke average during the season (spring and fall). India’s impressive 71.08 average is on pace to be the best in Iowa school history, and is also the ninth-lowest in the trophy’s history, dating back to 1974.

The list of Les Bolstad Trophy winners is pretty impressive, including golfers who went on to PGA TOUR stardom.

Luke Donald won the trophy three times at Northwestern (1999-01). Donald is currently No. 1 on the PGA TOUR Money list at over $2.9 million in earnings this year and is ranked third in the World Golf Rankings. Steve Stricker, who won the award at Illinois in 1988, has nine career PGA TOUR victories and is a two-time member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Shaun Micheel won the award at Indiana in 1991 and went on to claim the 2003 PGA Championship. Indiana’s Jeff Overton won the trophy in 2005 and recorded six top-10 PGA TOUR finishes last season.

India’s senior season is wrapping up with major awards, but it started out with plenty of individual honors.

He captured two tournament titles in the fall, earning medalist honors at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. He then grabbed his third career victory by winning the Hawkeye-TaylorMade Invitational during the spring.

India is just the third player in school history to win three or more tournaments in a single season. Sean McCarty, who is one of Iowa’s three golf All-Americans, is the only other Hawkeye golfer to win that many tournaments in one season.

India might want to hold off on looking for that trophy case, because more awards will likely be coming his way. He’s a near lock for NCAA all-Region honors, and he could join McCarty, along with former Hawkeyes John Liechty (1958) and Lonnie Nielsen (1976) as an NCAA All-American.

Head coach Mark Hankins believes India’s consistency was recognized in the awards.

“He has the lowest stroke average for the entire year,” Hankins said. “It’s a measure of his consistency and it’s a measure of his ability to go low and win golf tournaments. He’s won three this year. We couldn’t be more excited for him and his achievements as we move forward.”

India has one more goal to achieve in his Hawkeye career, but it doesn’t involve individual awards. He wants to lead his team back to the NCAA Championships. Iowa is a shoe-in to participate in NCAA Regional play March 19-21. The top five teams in the regional will qualify for the NCAA Championships.

“These awards kind of sum up our progress as a team this year,” India said.

Once his Hawkeye career is over, India can focus on finding that trophy case. But with that much talent, he might want to get an early start on finding a bigger case for his very promising golf career after college.