Iowa Climbs Leaderboard at NCAA Championship

June 1, 2011

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STILLWATER, Okla. – The University of Iowa men’s golf team climbed the leaderboard with an 18-hole total of 292 (+4) during Wednesday’s second round at the 2011 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. After a 12-stroke improvement from its first round, Iowa sits in a tie for 12th place with a 36-hole total of 596 (+20). Georgia Tech (573, -3) continues to pace the 30-team field as UCLA (574, -2) and Illinois (578, +2) hold the second and third positions, respectively. Oklahoma State is hosting the Championship on its own par 72, 7,416-yard Karsten Creek golf course in Stillwater, Okla.

“I think we got off to a good start today,” said Head Coach Mark Hankins. “This afternoon we just did a lot better job of continuing to focus and stay in the present. We passed through number 10, played on and finished strong.”

Chris Brant led the charge with a second round mark of two-under par 70. The junior went one-under on both the front and back nine, compiling seven birdies throughout the day. With tee times flip-flopped for the second round, Brant and the Hawkeyes started the morning on the front nine. Through four holes, Brant found himself sitting three-over par, but a birdie on the par-four fifth hole jumpstarted a five-hole surge for Brant, including three-straight birdies on the seventh, eighth and ninth holes to finish out the front nine.

Highlighting the run was a near hole-in-one on the par-three seventh hole, very similar to teammate Barrett Kelpin’s look during Tuesday’s first round. Brant hit a nine iron on the par-three that played 175 yards, downwind. His tee shot hit the berm placed towards the left side, midway up the green and kicked straight to the hole. The line was direct, but the ball ran out of steam about two feet from the cup.

“It was about 175 (yards) blowing downwind and if you land on the middle of the green it kicks pretty hard towards the pin,” said Brant. “I hit a nine iron and hit it to about a foot, foot and a half and it was nice. It was nice to kind of kick start the rest of the round.”

Brant continued with a solid back nine, including a pair of birdies. A beautiful chip from the rough came within a couple feet of dropping for an eagle on 18, and Brant sunk his birdie putt and walked into the club house at two-under par. He is sitting in a tie for 28th place with a 36-hole score of 146 (+2).

“I started off kind of rough,” added Brant. “I was three-over after four but settled down and definitely had a lot more fun on the back nine. I had a much better mind set and made some good birdies. I made some better swings and definitely had a better rhythm than I did yesterday.”

Senior Brad Hopfinger is also tied for 28th after a second round mark of even par 72. The two-time PING All-Midwest Region honoree played a very consistent round which included 14 pars. A bogey on four set him back a stoke, but Hopfinger closed the front nine with birdies on seven and nine, making the turn at one-under par. His only slip-up on the back nine came with a bogey on the par-four 16th, but the remaining eight were played at even par. Hopfinger was one of four Iowa golfers to at least match or improve on Tuesday’s opening round.

Junior Barrett Kelpin shaved eight strokes off his first round with a mark of 73 (+1) on his second 18. The Kalamazoo, Mich., native was one-over after three but birdied four, bringing him back to even par for the round. He picked up another stroke with a birdie one seven, helping the Hawkeyes play the tough par three at three-under for the day. Three under on the seventh hole was the lowest team mark for that hole during the second round. Another bogey on eight brought him back to even par which is where he would remain through the turn.

Kelpin posted bogeys on both 11 and 13, but erased the marks with birdies on 14 and 15. A bogey on 17 set him back to one-over par and he parred 18 to head into the clubhouse at one-over par 73. Kelpin is currently tied for 93rd place with a two-round total of 154 (+10).

Senior Vince India is also tied for 93rd place after matching his first round total of 77 (+5). Also a two-time PING All-Midwest Region honoree, India continued to play steady golf with 15 pars. A stretch of three-over par on holes nine and 10, combined with a double-bogey on 17, were the only marks on India’s score card. He has 30 pars and one eagle through the tournament’s 36 holes thus far.

Junior Jed Dirksen improved on the front nine from Tuesday’s round, but went five-over on the back for a day two total of 81 (+9). With a 36-hole mark of 158 (+14), Dirksen owns a share of 126th place heading into Thursday’s third round.

“I think before the round we were in a little bit better mood,” Brant commented on Iowa’s turnaround between the first and second round. “I noticed we were kind of laughing, having fun and enjoying the joy of the game. We were just definitely in a better mind set and it showed today. We were resilient and there were some good numbers today. I’m proud of all of us.”

“We have to do the same thing,” Hankins said about his team’s approach heading into round three. “We’re going to have to come out and play well. It’s a great field so we’ll stick to our game plan, do what we always do and try to get each guy in the game. If we can do that, I think we’ll shoot a good score.”

The NCAA Championship’s stroke play competition will conclude Thursday with the third round. The individual national champion will be named and the final eight teams for match play will be decided. The Hawkeyes, along with Arizona State and San Diego State, will tee off on the back nine beginning at 1:40 p.m. (CT). The NCAA Championship will conclude with the match play final June 5. Fans can follow the action live at the tournament central page found HERE.