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Men’s golf set for regional

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | MAY 13, 2009 7:29 AM

When the Iowa men’s golf team tees off in Thursday’s first round of the Southeast Regional in Sorrento, Fla., it will mark the Hawkeyes’ first postseason action in 14 years.

Making the trip for Iowa, ranked 59th nationally, will be senior Cole Peevler, sophomores Vince India and Brad Hopfinger, and freshmen Chris Brant and Barrett Kelpin — the same lineup that finished sixth at the Big Ten championships on May 3, the highest finish in eight years.

When Iowa’s five golfers hit the RedTail Golf Course, all of them will be getting their first taste of regional play. With such a young team, the stage could serve as a pressure cooker. On the other hand, they may not know any better than to play loose.

“I think it’s going to be a new experience for them,” coach Mark Hankins said. “I’m trying to kind of educate them on what’s going to be going on. We’re going to try to make it as normal as possible. They’re still going to feel pressure, but the big thing is to focus on the right things — just playing each round one round at a time.”

The most experienced member of the team, senior Cole Peevler, and the most seasoned underclassman, sophomore Vince India, had to shoulder much of the weight of the team last season.

This year, that proverbial weight has been lifted off of their backs.

“Last year, Cole and I started to try to turn things around but didn’t have a lot of help,” India said. “This year, things are a little different with the lineup that we have.”

The squad has demonstrated good team depth on numerous occasions during the season — something that is necessary for a ticket to the NCAA championships.

The most recent example was fewer than two weeks ago at Big Tens. Freshman Chris Brant tied for 15th place individually to lead the team.

Brant failed to qualify to compete in three of Iowa’s nine tournaments this season.

As well, the highest season round average in this week’s lineup is 75.7 (freshman Barrett Kelpin), while the lowest is 73.4 (sophomore Vince India).

“It definitely makes it easier,” Kelpin said. “We all know we can depend on each other to play well, so it definitely makes you at ease when you’re playing.”

Only time will tell if these Hawkeyes will make this season any more historic for the program.
A top-five finish — needed to qualify for the NCAA championships — will be challenging.

Some college golf pundits, such as GolfWeek.com’s Lance Ringler and Asher Wildman, have pegged the Southeast the weakest of the six regionals, despite boasting nine teams ranked in the top 50.

Those include top-ranked and overall top-seeded Georgia, No. 10 South Carolina, No. 14 Indiana, No. 17 Central Florida, No. 26 Florida State, No. 33 Augusta State, No. 36 Arizona, No. 42 Kentucky, and No. 49 Georgia Southern. At No. 60, Georgia State is the only lower-ranked squad than Iowa to earn an at-large bid in the regional. The bottom three seeds — Charlotte, Campbell, and Loyola (Md.) — all earned automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments.

Despite the myriad of ranked teams the Hawkeyes will be up against, Hankins has his team focused on playing their best golf, not on the competition.

“I haven’t taken a close look at it,” Hankins said. “It’s not something I’m really concerned with. We want to prepare for that golf course and play the best that we can.”

Iowa is scheduled to begin play in the first of three rounds starting Thursday at 8:40 a.m.. The second round will be played on Friday, with the final round of 18 holes on Saturday. Live scoring will be available on Golfstat.com.


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