Men’s golf has high hopes


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After a fall season that saw the Iowa men’s golf team compete toe-to-toe with some of the nation’s best competition, the Hawkeyes head into their winter break with high hopes for their season in the spring.

Iowa’s consistent play in its first five tournaments landed it in the 38th spot in the country, according to golfstat.com, much higher than its previous ranking heading into the spring last season.

The Hawkeyes finished second, fifth, fourth, sixth, and third during their fall season.

Iowa’s final, third-place finish at the Baylor Intercollegiate on Oct. 27 was a solid ending for the Hawkeyes despite leading the 12-team field heading into the second day.

“Overall, I was happy with the effort our guys showed,” head coach Mark Hankins said. “We could have done a better job of managing our energy, but we made some birdies in the last few holes to give us that third-place finish.”

Staying mentally tough and working on individual strength and stamina will be the main focus for the Hawkeyes during the winter — aspects of the game Hankins said can be individually controlled.

“There are some things you can’t control in golf, but one of them is controlling how good of athletes we are,” he said. “If we can be less tired than our competition at the end of a tournament, and it can save us one shot, that can be a huge difference maker.”

Hankins said he was pleased with the play of junior Brad Hopfinger, who won his first individual tournament at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Riverside and led all Hawkeyes in scoring average at 71.8 per round.

Hopfinger was also happy with his play in the team’s first five tournaments.

“Individually, I thought I did a good job of preparing and executing,” he said. “To get my first win in my college career was definitely a thrill and good to have under my belt.”

Hopfinger and his teammates will compete in various tournaments during the winter break to stay fresh for the spring season.

“We only practice for a week or two before we have to head to Arizona to compete again,” Hankins said. “They’ve got to be ready to go and play on their own before coming back to school.”

The Hawkeyes will compete in the Big 4 Match-Play Challenge in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Feb. 6, 2010, before the Big Ten Match-Play Championship six days later in Coral Springs, Fla. — a tournament Hankins said is very important for the squad after playing poorly in last year’s conference match.

“We’re in a position to go into the [Big Ten Match-Play] as the third seed,” Hankins said. “Last year, we did not battle at all, so we need to come out with the right mentality because that is something that can prepare us for the rest of the season.”

Hankins said the most important key to the team’s success in the spring is for every team member to work on his individual weaknesses and aspire to play to reach his full potential.

“As long as you have guys holding each other accountable and trusting everyone is working as hard as they are, that is key,” he said. “As long as everyone does his part, at the end of the day we will reach our potential. We might not be the best team in the country, but if you reach your full potential, that is all you can ask for.”

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