Men's Golf Moves to Fourth Place at NCAA Regional

May 20, 2011

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ZIONSVILLE, IND. – – Juniors Chris Brant and Barrett Kelpin each shot even par 71 in the second round of the NCAA Regional here Friday, helping the third-seeded University of Iowa men’s golf team to fourth place after 36 holes of play.

The Hawkeyes shot a team score of 289 (+5) Friday after opening the tournament with a score of 284. The regional is being played at the 7,000-yard Wolf Run Golf Course. Brant is tied for second place in the individual standings with a two-day total of 139 (-3), two strokes behind Scott Langley of Illinois, the NCAA individual national champion in 2010.

“Today was a little warmer when we teed off,” said Iowa Coach Mark Hankins. “We got off to a good start and hung tough all day. Some of the pins were more difficult, greens were slightly firmer, which led to higher scores. Our team score of plus five turned out to be a decent score today.”

Top-seeded Alabama was the only team to shoot even par Friday, moving into a tie with Illinois at the top of the team standings with a two-day total of 562 (-6). Michigan is third (566, -2), giving the Big Ten Conference three of the top four teams in the regional. Stanford (576, +8) sits just two strokes behind Iowa (574, +5) and UNC-Charlotte is sixth (583, +15). The top five teams after Saturday’s final round advance to the NCAA Championships, May 31-June 5 at Stillwater, Okla.

Along with Brant and Kelpin, Iowa’s Friday scores included junior Jed Dirksen (73, +2), senior Vince India (74, +3) and senior Brad Hopfinger (78, +7). In the individual standings, Kelpin and India are tied for 26th and Hopfinger and Dirksen are tied for 34th.

Brant was one of eight players to shoot 68 on Thursday. He recorded his first birdie Friday on the fourth hole and added birdies on six and nine. His tee shot on the par three ninth hit just inches from the cup and he made the putt to get back to even at the turn. The birdie on nine came after his approach shot rolled just past the hole. He had seven pars on the back nine to go with a bogey and a birdie. Brant has shot even par or better in six of his last seven rounds.

“I hit some ups and downs and made a good run of birdies,” said Brant. “I birdied three holes on the front and gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie. I missed a few, obviously, but I hung in there all day and I made some good ones at the end.

“I was actually in the bunker on the fourth hole, and I hit a nice shot to about ten feet behind the hole and made the putt; that kind of kick-started my round,” added Brant. “I thought the course was playing tough as we progressed throughout the day. I think the greens got a lot firmer and the back is tougher, too. I’m pretty pleased with the way I played on the back because I felt it was much more demanding.”

“Chris hung in there today, just like yesterday,” said Hankins. “He made some birdies and trusted himself to battle on the holes that he didn’t play as well. He’s playing well and just doing everything he can to save every shot.”

Kelpin began his second round with a birdie on the opening hole. He was even par after a bogey on six, but birdied nine to make the turn at one under. Despite two double bogeys on the back, Kelpin birdied 13, 16 and 17 to end the day even.

“I got off to a good start today which was nice,” Kelpin noted. “I got off to a slow start yesterday, so I wanted to get into a rhythm today and I birdied the first hole which really calmed me down. I played solid on the front and made the turn one-under. Then the back was kind of up and down — I made three birdies and two doubles. I was happy that after those doubles I could finish with some birdies to get back to level par for the day to post a good score for our team and individually.

“Chris hung in there today, just like yesterday. He made some birdies and trusted himself to battle on the holes that he didn’t play as well. He’s playing well and just doing everything he can to save every shot.”
Mark Hankins’ on Chris Brant who is tied for second and just two strokes off the lead at the NCAA Regional being staged in suburban Indianapolis

“My short game was pretty good all day,” continued Kelpin. “I had some key up and downs and I made some good putts to keep the momentum of my round going. I had some damage control at the same time on a few holes. It was big all day to have that consistency and I felt pretty comfortable all day with all aspects of my game, so it was a good day.”

“Barrett has been playing well,” noted Hankins. “It’s just a matter of him putting a full round together. He made some birdies today and got the job done for us. Jed finished strong, made a couple birdies and basically played well all day. We need that; that’s what it’s all about. Our strength is in the depth of our team. We have five guys that can play well and if they all go out and are in it from the beginning, we’re a lot better golf team.”

Dirksen also started the day with a birdie before running into trouble on five. His second shot sailed over the green and into the deep rough, resulting in a triple bogey to go to two over par. Dirksen played the final 13 holes in even par, collecting two birdies and a pair of bogeys along the way.

India was the third Hawkeyes to open his day with a birdie on the first hole. He followed with seven straight pars before a bogey in nine moved him back to even. India hit a touch stretch on the back with four straight bogeys, but he made a side hill, down hill putt on 18 for his only birdie on the back nine.

Hopfinger struggled on the opening nine holes, but had his only two birdies of the day on the back, finishing just one over par on his final 11 holes.

“They’re going to continue to roll these greens and mow them like we do at any tournament,” concluded Hankins. “Saturday you can expect some difficult pins and it’s going to be a little bit more pressure on all the kids, from the first place team to probably the tenth place team. There are a lot of teams still in this; we need to come out Saturday and just take care of our business individually. These guys need to figure out where they are, make some adjustments to the golf course and do the best they can.”

Regional competition will conclude with 18 holes of play Saturday. Fans can follow live scoring at Iowa begins play at 6:50 a.m. CT.

Team Standings
T1. Illinois 277-285-562 (-6)
T1. Alabama 278-284=562 (-6)
3. Michigan 278-288=566 (-2)
4. IOWA 285-289=574 (+6)
5. Stanford 284-292=576 (+8)
6. UNC-Charlotte 295-288-583 (+15)
7. Tennessee 287-287=584 (+16)
8. Florida State 291-295=586 (+18)
9. Indiana 293-295=588 (+20)
10. Memphis 292-297=589 (+21)
11. Wake Forest 301-291=592 (+24)
12. Wichita State 301-3-3=604 (+36)
13. Missouri-Kansas City 312-300=612 (+44)
14. Sacred Heart 319-313=632(+64)

Individual Standings – par 71 (top three plus Iowa)
1. Scott Langley, Illinois 68-69=137 (-5)
T2. Chris Brant, Iowa 68-71-139 (-3)
Bud Cauley, Alabama 68-71=139 (-3)
Joey Garber, Michigan 71-68=139 (-3)
Garrick Porteous, Tennessee 71-68=139 (-3)
T26. Vince India, Iowa 72-74=146 (+4)
T26. Barrett Kelpin, Iowa 75-71=146 (+4)
T34. Brad Hopfinger, Iowa 70-78=148 (+7)
T34. Jed Dirksen, Iowa 75-73=148 (+6)