Nov. 14, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s golf team finished its fall schedule ranked 30th in the nation by golfstat.com. In five outings, the Hawkeyes compiled four team finishes of sixth place or better and sported individual competitors in the top-20 on eight different occasions. Head Coach Mark Hankins attributed his team’s success to hard work and a focused mindset.
“We had some guys that played well this offseason and came back ready to compete for our team,” said Hankins. “With three new starters making the lineup, it was a learning experience that will pay off in the spring.”
Iowa began its season with a sixth place finish at the Golden Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn. Seniors Chris Brant and Barrett Kelpin finished first and second, respectively as Brant took home the first outright individual title of his collegiate career.
“Chris and Barrett battled to the very last hole with Chris finishing eagle, birdie, par to jump ahead of Barrett for the win,” said Hankins. “I was proud of both them and that really set the standard for each of those guys moving into the fall.”
Iowa returned to Burlington, Iowa, to host a highly ranked field at the Golfweek Conference Challenge for a third-consecutive year. The Hawkeyes finished sixth in the 15-team field hosted at Spirit Hollow Golf Course. Brant (T13) led Iowa with a 54-hole total of 218 (+2).
“Being able to host such a quality field on a great course like Spirit Hollow in Iowa gave us the opportunity to compete in front of our Hawkeye fans and continue to grow our image within the state and the country,” said Hankins.
The Hawkeyes earned their best team finish at the Rod Myers/Duke Invitational, finishing fourth in the 11-team event. Sophomore Steven Ihm, who joined the team after winning a NJCAA National Championship with Indian Hills Community College last spring, finished second with his best three-round total of the season (213, -3). This tournament also earned Ihm his first Big Ten Player of the Week honors from the Big Ten Conference.
“Steven really played steady this past fall,” said Hankins. “He was prepared for competition when he arrived on campus and never let anything get him off track. He finished second on the team in scoring average for the fall and has made an immediate impact.”
In their toughest challenge of the year, the Hawkeyes tied for fifth at the 14-team U.S. Collegiate Championship in Alpharetta, Ga. Ihm (T8) and Kelpin (T10) earned their second-consecutive top-10 finishes as the Hawkeyes posted a team mark of 868 (+4). Iowa finished higher than six different teams ranked inside the nation’s top-50.
“The U.S. Collegiate was a new tournament for our team,” said Hankins. “The event was first class and the competition was top notch. We played steady and fought out a tough top-five finish.”
Iowa closed its fall schedule with a season-best 54-hole team mark at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. The Hawkeyes posted a score of 863 (+11) as they tied for ninth in the 14-team field. Kelpin paced the Black and Gold with his fourth top-20 finish of the season.
Kelpin finished the fall with a team-leading season scoring average of 71.93 through 15 rounds. The Kalamazoo, Mich., native is currently ranked 61st by golfstat.com after the best five-tournament stretch of his collegiate career.
“Barrett worked hard over the summer and had success which continues to grow his confidence and level of play,” added Hankins. “He is a leader on the golf course and always goes about his business to achieve his personal goals which in turn help us be a top team. He has a solid fall and will look to improve on his national ranking this spring.”