Sept. 25, 2011
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BURLINGTON, Iowa – The University of Iowa men’s golf team is tied for third place after round one at the 15-team Golfweek Conference Challenge. The Hawkeyes posted a team mark of five-under par 283, just four strokes back of current leader Chattanooga (279, -9). Seniors Chris Brant and Brad George are pacing the Hawkeyes after day one totals of two-under par 70. All five of Iowa’s golfers are inside the top-30, individually. Action is being held on the par 72 Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa.
“Our focus this week is team depth,” said Head Coach Mark Hankins. “We want to get 15 solid scores over three rounds and today we had five guys out there early and they were engaged. We got off to a good start and put up five good scores.
“I thought anything around even par would be a good score today,” Hankins added. “The course is playing pretty tough. Chris and Brad’s 70’s are good scores.”
Brant fired three birdies on the front nine, but three bogies brought him back to even par at the turn. He quickly picked up two strokes on the par-5 10th hole after draining a 100-yard approach shot. His shot landed a few feet behind the pin and spun back into the cup.
“I had a little eagle action on 10 and that really kick-started my back nine,” said Brant. “That helped build some momentum. I hit a sand wedge from a little over 100 yards and it spun back in the hole.”
A birdie on 13 brought Brant to three-under. The Edwardsville, Ill., native fired another birdie on 16, but found a hazard on 18 and took a bogey to finish the day tied for eighth individually.
Brant was co-medalist at last year’s Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow and was happy to be back at a course where he has found success.
“It felt very familiar,” added Brant. “It was easy to jump back into that mindset and winning attitude. At times I played really well and other times not so much. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me and I’ll move forward from here.”
George put together Iowa’s most consistent round of the day with 17 bogey-free holes. Competing from Iowa’s No. 4 position, George was even par at the turn. He began the backside with a birdie on 10 before reeling off seven pars. George finished his round with a birdie on 18 to finish two-under on the day, good for a share of eighth place with Brant.
Sophomore Steven Ihm recorded his best round as a Hawkeye to finish the day tied for 17th. The 2011 NJCAA Freshman of the Year posted an 18-hole mark of one-under 71. Ihm tallied three birdies on the day.
“We had a good week of practice and we talked about our approach for this tournament,” Hankins said. “We learned last week that it doesn’t matter what you do in your practice round, what matters is how you perform on game day. Our guys need to be relaxed and confident when it’s competition time and carry that through three days.”
Iowa will be part of the final pairings to tee off Hole No. 1 Monday morning. The Hawkeyes will be joined by Chattanooga and Arkansas, currently in first and second places, respectively. Tee times will begin at 9 a.m. (CT). Fans can follow live scoring at golfstatresults.com or find extensive coverage at golfweek.com.