June 2, 2011
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STILLWATER, Okla. — The University of Iowa men’s golf team finished tied for 10th place at the 2011 NCAA Championships, the highest finish at the NCAA Championships in the history of Hawkeye men’s golf. Iowa fired a team score of +5 (296) and was one of only eight squads in the 30-team field to record a single-digit over par score in the third round. Iowa’s three-round total of +28 (892) was just three strokes shy of eighth place to advance to match play competition.
“We definitely put ourselves in a hole the first day,” Head Coach Mark Hankins said. “It wasn’t the entire first day, just after the turn. We did a better job staying in the present the rest of the tournament and we battled hard today to almost get the job done. “
Even though the Hawkeyes came up short of match play, Hankins was pleased with his squad’s performance throughout the NCAA Championships.
“It proves our ranking,” Hankins said of his teams’ top-10 finish. “You couldn’t fake it out here; you had to play great golf. I’m so proud of our guys today. We got off to a great start and had a shot all the way until the 18th hole. We needed three birdies on the 18th and we just couldn’t get it.”
Junior Chris Brant led the Hawkeyes at the 2011 NCAA Championships, recording a T20 finishing with a 54-hole total of +4 (220). Brant shot a +2 (74) in the third round, recording birdies on 14 and 18. The Hawkeyes started Thursday’s round on the back nine, and Brant made the turn at even par. Two bogeys on the front nine led to his +2 finish.
Brant, who will be a senior next season, now has a wealth of experience heading into next year after a top-20 finish at the NCAA Championships.
“There were bright spots this week,” Brant said. “I’ll take a lot of experience out of this year. We played in some great tournaments against some great teams. We faced the best teams in the country right here and finished 10th. We didn’t want to finish 10th, we wanted to beat them. We have a good core coming back, but we are losing two studs. We want to come back next year and make the cut.”
Senior Brad Hopfinger finished the 2011 NCAA Championships T38 at +7 (223). Hopfinger carded a +5 (77) in the third round, with six bogeys and a birdie on his ninth hole.
Junior Barrett Kelpin carded the second-lowest round of the day at the 2011 NCAA Championships with a -1 (71). Kelpin started his round with a par on 10 and then a birdie on 11. After four-straight pars, Kelpin birdied the par-4 16th, but followed with a bogey on 17 and a par on 18 to make the turn at -1. Kelpin birdied one and bogeyed five to finish with a 71. He finished the tournament T56 at +9 (225).
With a +20 (228), senior Vince India finished T81 at the 2011 NCAA Championships. After a bogey-birdie start to his round, India rattled in 11-consecutive pars before a bogey on the ninth hole. India recorded pars on six and seven, a bogey on eight and finished with a par to shoot a +2 (74).
Junior Jed Dirksen rounded out the Hawkeye roster at the 2011 NCAA Championships with a T121 finish at +20 (236). Dirksen’s third round score of +6 (78) was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 18th hole.
The 2011 NCAA Championships was the final collegiate competition for India and Hopfinger, who leave as two of the top players in Iowa men’s golf history. Both were two-time PING All-Region honorees and were also first team All-Big Ten selections as seniors this season.
“This was the best year of golf I’ve had in a long time,” India said. “It was also the best four years of golf, with a great team, the best coaches I’ve ever been around and the best guys and friends I’ve ever been around.”
“It’s been really good,” Hopfinger said. “Before this weekend started, we had done more than any other golf team at Iowa. That means a lot, especially for me and Vince. Being able to accomplish what we have as a team means a lot to us.”
The focus now shifts to summer amateur competition, with the Hawkeyes competing in numerous tournaments from June to August. Be sure to check hawkeyesports.com and the official Iowa men’s golf Facebook page for updates on the Hawkeyes throughout the summer.