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Men’s golf finishes strong

BY CLARK CAHILL | JUNE 08, 2009 7:26 AM

It’s an adage in the sports realm: Experience equals future success. The Iowa men’s golf team is hoping this will ring true after finishing 17th out of 30 teams in the three-round, stroke-play competition at the NCAA championships in Toledo, Ohio.

The Hawkeyes, the lowest seed in the tournament, shot their best on the final day with a round of 290 (6 over), carding them a total of 887 (35 over).

Iowa’s solid play in the final round did not come without some challenges. The Hawkeyes were forced to play 27 holes on the third day — having to finish its second round early in the morning because of thunderstorms the previous day. The weather did not improve much in the afternoon, and the team’s low ranking forced it to finish late in the day in rough conditions. Some teams weren’t even able to finish the round.

Iowa head coach Mark Hankins said harsh weather is not easy to play in, but it can’t be an excuse, especially in the postseason.

“You just never know what conditions are going to come along, and the other guys are playing out there with us, too,” he said. “Once you give yourself an excuse, you are already beaten, but we hung in there and shot a pretty decent round.”

Senior Cole Peevler said he thought the delay helped the team’s final round score.

“We were already warmed up from playing in the morning and had the right state of mind,” he said. “We were in the mode all day even though we had a break.”

Peevler, the team’s most experienced member, shot a team-best 71 in the final round for an overall score of 224 (11 over) to tie for 78th place. He couldn’t be happier with his final-round play, which included six birdies, he said.

“Ending my career like that means a lot to me,” he said. “It was fun for me and my family, and my coach was pleased with how I played. It was an all-around great experience.”

With the graduation of Peevler, the Hawkeyes will lose their team leader, but Hankins hopes the team’s depth will be able to overcome the loss.

“I can tell you, you can’t replace [Peevler]. He worked hard day in and day out, and he led by example,” the coach said. “But everyone loses players, and we have to fill that hole and move on.”

One of the likely candidates to step into that role is sophomore Vince India, who shot a team-best 219 to tie for 37th place. He is optimistic about the future after the tournament performance.

“I think it gave us some self-assurance to know that we deserve to be here,” he said. “We realized we are a good team, and it gave us a lot of confidence to know that we can play with the best.

Freshman Barrett Kelpin and sophomore Brad Hopfinger finished tied for 72nd with scores of 223, and freshman Chris Brant tied for 153rd overall with a 237.

Playing in their first postseason action since 1995, the Hawkeyes finished ahead of every Big Ten school except Michigan, which finished sixth and advanced to an eight-team match-play bracket.

Iowa finished fifth at the Central Florida Regional to advance to the championships, and the team’s combined score of 837 (15-under) at the regional was a school record.

Hankins said the team’s success this season will inevitably increase expectations, but he hopes to see a much more confident and focused team next season.

“Each of those guys returning understands where he wants to go,” he said. “They’ve seen the publicity from success. You want the expectations, but you have to turn that into motivation to work hard and prepare.”


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