Iowa Posts Best Round of Big Ten Championships

April 28, 2012

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FRENCH LICK, Ind. – The University of Iowa men’s golf team is in fifth place at the Big Ten Championships after posting a third round of one-under par (287), the lowest team score and only score under par at the tournament. The Hawkeyes improved their second round score by 22 strokes and moved three positions up the leaderboard, a larger jump than any team in the field. Illinois (884, +20) leads the conference tournament, as Michigan State and Indiana are tied for second with scores of 891 (+27). Competition is being played on the par 72, 7,152-yard Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort in French Lick, Ind.

“We needed to do well today,” said Head Coach Mark Hankins. “We didn’t play very well yesterday trying to get used to this golf course. It’s the first time we’ve seen it, it’s difficult and we had some guys shoot uncharacteristically higher numbers yesterday. Today I thought we kept our head, didn’t panic and Barrett and Steven came in with a couple of really good numbers to help put us over the top.”

Senior Barrett Kelpin highlighted Iowa’s play with a third round of five-under (67), tying the competitive 18-hole record for the Pete Dye Course. Kelpin, along with Illinois senior Luke Guthrie, tied the record that was set by Guthrie’s head coach and PGA club professional Mike Small. Kelpin and Guthrie’s rounds remain the lowest fired this weekend by an impressive three-stroke margin.

“I got into a groove, had a few nice up-and-downs and really took advantage of some holes that were playing down wind that I thought I could birdie and get at today,” said Kelpin. “There’s not really a lot of holes that you feel like you can get at, so I felt like I did a good job of converting on the holes that were there for the taking today. I made a few good momentum saving pars today and that definitely helped me out.”

“Barrett got it going today and once he gets on a roll his ball striking is pretty good,” added Hankins. “I think he just found his zone out there and you have to do that no matter which golf course you’re at. He was making good decisions and good shots and just staying in time. You have to continue to try making birdies until the last hole. He played a great round and he’s going to look to try and get back into that rhythm early tomorrow.”

As Iowa teed off hole 10 to begin the third round, Kelpin exchanged a pair of birdies with two bogeys and finished even par on the back nine. He recorded a par on the first hole to begin his second nine and began his climb from there. Back-to-back birdies on holes two and three put the Kalamazoo, Mich., native at two under with six holes to play. He posted a birdie on hole five and dropped two more strokes with birdies on seven and eight, tallying an impressive five-under on his second nine. Going back to a birdie on the par five 18th, Kelpin finished the day with six birdies in his final 10 holes. He stands alone in fifth place with a 54-hole mark of 220 (+4).

“We did a good job of responding as a team and played well today when we needed to,” added Kelpin. “Hopefully we can feed off this round tomorrow and keep moving up the leaderboard.”

Sophomore Steven Ihm also went under par during Saturday’s third round, recording an 18-hole total of one-under 70. With just one birdie in his previous 36-holes, Ihm sunk five birdies during third round action. Other than Ihm and Kelpin, only eight competitors in the 60-man field have gone under par through three rounds. Ihm is currently tied for 27th, with a 54-hole total of 230 (+14).

“I played pretty solid today,” said Ihm. “I didn’t get out of position which is a big thing because this course is not only demanding around the greens, but you have to be in the fairway to make a good approach. I just put myself in play and hit it a lot better today and made a couple more putts.”

Chris Brant is tied for 18th with a three-round mark of 227 (+11). The senior and 2011 All-Big Ten selection carded a third round of 74, (+2). Brant posted three bogeys early and made the turn at three-over par. He picked up two strokes with birdies on one and two, but gave them back with bogeys on four and six. With a birdie on the par-5 seventh hole, Brant went one-under on the second nine and two-over on the round.

“There were certain things that I did better today than I did the past two rounds, but there’s still a lot of work to be done and my scores prove it,” said Brant. “We showed resiliency as a team after coming back from yesterday. It gives us momentum into tomorrow. We just need to play well and see what happens.”

Senior Brad George also improved on yesterday’s play with a third round of 76 (+4). The Marion, Iowa, native owns a 54-hole score of 233 (+17) and is tied for 37th with 18 holes to play. Additionally, freshman Ian Vandersee is tied for 46th with a tournament total of 237 (+21).

Play will conclude with Sunday’s final round beginning with tee times at 7 a.m. (CT). Iowa will be paired with Penn State again and will tee off on the front side. Fans can follow live scoring at

Team Results (Par 72)
1. Illinois 301-291-292=884 (+20)
2. Indiana 293-304-294=891 (+27)
Michigan State 292-303-296=891 (+27)
4. Northwestern 311-296-288=895 (+31)
5. Iowa 305-309-287=901 (+37)
6. Penn State 308-301-299=908 (+44)
7. Purdue 306-297-308=911 (+47)
8. Minnesota 308-297-308=913 (+49)
9. Ohio State 299-316-304=919 (+55)
10 Michigan 312-309-306=927 (+63)
11. Nebraska 308-313-313=934 (+70)
12. Wisconsin 317-326-300=943 (+79)

Individual Results (Top 3 + Iowa)
1. Luke Guthrie (Illinois) 72-71-67=210 (-6)
2. Matt Thompson (Michigan) 74-73-70=217 (+1)
3. Sam Chien (Northwestern) 72-73-73=218 (+2)
Dan Ellis (Michigan State) 74-73-71=218 (+2)
5. Barrett Kelpin (Iowa) 76-77-67=220 (+4)
T18. Chris Brant (Iowa) 78-75-74=227 (+11)
T27. Steven Ihm (Iowa) 82-78-70=230 (+14)
T37. Brad George (Iowa) 78-79-76=233 (+17)
T46. Ian Vandersee (Iowa) 73-83-81=237 (+21)