Kelpin’s confidence is contagious

BY JESSIE SMITH | APRIL 07, 2010 7:30 AM

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Typically, when a college athlete hits “an all-time low,” it’s time to tweak mechanics and rethink practice methods.

Iowa golfer Barrett Kelpin’s all-time low has been addressed a little differently.

The Kalamazoo, Mich., native recorded a 65 (6 under par) 18-round score at the Spring Break Invitational from March 26-28, the second lowest individual score of this year’s tournament. The mark not only surpassed his previous career low by five strokes, it was also the third lowest 18-hole score in program history.

Kelpin’s stellar round helped boost the No. 41 Hawkeyes to a second-place finish, a six-spot leap in the standings from last year. His performance also earned him an individual second-place finish, the highest collegiate finish of the sophomore’s career.

After not qualifying for the 2009 event, Kelpin’s drawing board included his desire to improve his short game, particularly on the putting green.

“It was frustrating last year being [at the Spring Break Invitational] but not playing,” Kelpin said. “But I just kept working on my weaknesses, like my putting in the off-season, and I just kept trying to strike from weaker parts of my game. Slowly, the hard work definitely paid off.”

In his freshman campaign, Iowa’s No. 3 golfer qualified to participate in eight of the teams’ 11 events with an average score of 75.2. In his second season, he has competed in every fall and spring tournament thus far.

Head coach Mark Hankins attributes Kelpin’s success this season to his continual effort.

“[Barrett] has a very humble demeanor about him, but he is very dedicated to golf,” Hankins said. “He has really taken any advice I have given him and worked hard to implement some things.”

Kelpin might be humble, but there is nothing humble about his No. 168 individual ranking, a mark that pins the sophomore against a Division-I pool that is 300 teams large.

Juniors Brad Hopfinger and Vince India join Kelpin on Golfstat’s individual national rankings, at No. 41 and No. 160, respectively.

The success of the trio has been an ongoing pattern with this year’s Iowa team, but Kelpin has nabbed a fair share of accolades that go unaccompanied.

The sophomore was the only Hawkeye to go individually undefeated (4-0) in this year’s Callaway Collegiate Match-Play tournament on March 21-23. The event pitted Iowa against the second, eighth, 10th, and 37th-ranked teams in the nation.

As the sophomore’s competitive play and top finishes become more consistent, so does his confidence.

“I got off to a great start in second round [of the Spring Break Invitational],” Kelpin said. “I got pretty comfortable when that happened, and I was completely calm and felt like I could do anything I wanted to on the golf course. That confidence from that good start rolled me through the rest.”

It has also been clearly visible on the scoreboard. Sophomore Chris Brant said his teammate’s behavior is contagious, having a positive effect on the nine-man roster.

“I think when one of the guys plays well, I think it definitely carries over,” Brant said. “It gives good vibes, and good positive attitudes about the course and about the game. It helps in our games to keep us positive and confident.”

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