Hawkeyes Compete in Day 1 of NCAA Championships

May 31, 2011

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STILLWATER, Okla. – The University of Iowa men’s golf team posted an opening round total of 304 (+16) during day one of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. The Hawkeyes were the last group to tee off of the 10th hole and made the turn at five-over par. In a tough run on the second nine holes, Iowa posted a team mark of 11-over and entered the club house tied for 21st. Georgia Tech (283, -5) holds the lead with plenty of golf remaining, as UCLA (286, -2) and Alabama (288, E) round out the top three. The Championship is being held on the par 72, 7,416-yard course at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

Senior Brad Hopfinger is pacing the Hawkeyes with an 18-hole total of 74 (+2). He started the day with a bogey on 10 but responded with a birdie on the par-three 11th that brought him back to even par. With pars on six of the next seven holes, Hopfinger was able to make the turn at one-over. His momentum carried as the Lake Forest, Ill., native gained a stroke back with a birdie on the par 5, first hole. Hopfinger took bogeys on holes two, five and eight but was able to get one back with a birdie on six. After playing one-over par on both the front and back nine, Hopfinger is tied for 47th.

Junior Chris Brant posted Iowa’s most consistent round and finished the day at four-over par 76. The 2011 Big Ten runner-up carded 13 pars, including eight pars on the back nine. With a double-bogey on the par-four 13th hole, Brant walked off 18 at two-over par. He quickly earned a stroke back with a birdie on one, a hole that the Hawkeyes played five-under as a team. With five pars in the closing eight holes of today’s round, Brant posted another mark of two-over on the front and entered the clubhouse in a tie for 75th.

Senior Vince India, along with junior Jed Dirksen, carded a first round of 77 (+5). India, played a solid back nine that included seven pars. With bogeys on 12 and 16, India lost two strokes and began the front nine at two-over par. The pair of bogeys were erased with an eagle on one, but India posted an eight on the par-four second hole. He settled in for the remainder of the round, posting six pars in his seven closing holes.

Dirksen set Iowa’s standard at the start, as he made the turn at even par. Despite bogies on 11, 13 and 15, Dirksen sunk a birdie putt on 12 and another on 16 that brought him back to one-over. His tee shot on the par-five, 18th hole found the left side of the fairway, approximately 225-yards out. A beautiful second shot with a hybrid put him near the left edge of the green where he missed the 25-foot eagle putt by less than a foot. Dirksen sunk his birdie putt to go back to even par. A pair of birdies on one and two put him at two-under with seven holes remaining, but a tough, five-hole stretch that included four bogeys dropped him back to two-over. Dirksen closed out his round with a triple-bogey on the tough par-five ninth hole for a front nine at five-over.

“I knew he (Dirksen) was going to play well this week,” head coach Mark Hankins said. “He’s been practicing hard and played well. He put up a big number on the last hole which kind of hurt him and he’s obviously not pleased with that. But, it’s a whole new day tomorrow.”

Despite Iowa’s shot of the day, junior Barrett Kelpin lost some strokes to the demanding Karsten Course. He began the day with three consecutive pars, but was three-over between holes 13 and 14. A birdie on 15 brought him back to two-over par, but a combined mark of five-over on 17 and 18 put him at seven-over par through nine holes of golf. An improved front nine of two-over par included a birdie on the par-three seventh hole. The pin was placed 168 yards out and Kelpin hit a nine iron to the top of a berm 20 feet left of the cup. It caught the green and rolled down the berm towards the cup, missing a hole-in-one by three inches. The ball rolled a foot past the cup where Kelpin sunk his birdie putt. The Kalamazoo, Mich., native posted an 18-hole total of 81 (+9) and is tied for 134th.

“We had some guys make a couple big numbers and that’s what’s out here on this golf course,” Hankins said. “You have to play hard and when you get in trouble you have to get out of trouble. The guys were maybe a little nervous today and pressing a little hard. It’s to be expected a little bit. On a hard golf course you have got to keep your calm and you have to keep your head up. You have to keep battling out there. Put your attitude in the right place and just do the best you can. We’ll come out tomorrow and put together a good round.”

Team pairings will remain the same for Wednesday’s second round. Iowa, along with Michigan and Duke, will tee off of Karsten’s par-four 10th hole at 8:40 a.m. (CT). Click HERE for the tournament’s central site and live scoring.