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Men’s golf takes Finkbine tournament crown

BY JESSIE SMITH | APRIL 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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Home-course advantage proved kind to the Iowa men’s golf team at the 17th-annual Hawkeye Taylormade/Adidas Invitational on Sunday.

The Hawkeyes roared through the three-round event to nab their 12th tournament crown and claim four individual spots in the top 10.

Sophomores Barrett Kelpin and Chris Brant led the way for Iowa with a tie for fourth (216, even).

Junior Vince India finished a stroke behind to take sixth, and sophomore Brad George, who played as an individual, finished tied for ninth with a score of 219.

Because the Hawkeyes practice on Finkbine at least three times a week, Brant said, the team’s familiarity was its biggest advantage.

“We knew where to hit it. We had local knowledge and know the characteristics of the course that [other teams] obviously do not,” Brant said. “That knowledge definitely helped us, knowing where to hit it and where not to.”

India said the unfamiliar greens were also a difficult obstacle for opposing team.

“Kids were having trouble lining up off the tee,” he said. “Just knowing where to hit it on the greens, too, and so putting was obviously an issue.”

No. 38 Iowa grabbed the first-place spot from Miami (Ohio) halfway through the opening round. The Hawkeyes led the rest of the way and went on to secure a 12-stroke victory over the second-place RedHawks.

Kelpin in particular carried Iowa to a title.

The sophomore birdied seven of his first nine holes during Sunday’s final round of play to post a 64 (minus-8), the second lowest 18-hole score in program history.

Iowa head coach Mark Hankins praised his No. 3 golfer’s persistence and ability to fight past a slow first day at the event.

“It’s been a long time since that number was shot,” Hankins said. “I’m proud Barrett could come off really a tough day [on April 17]. He had a couple of holes that really hurt him, and to come out today and really turn it around and jump up the leader board a long ways was great to see.”

Hankins’ nine-man roster made more program history in Sunday’s final round, posting a team score of 277 (minus-11) — a mark that tied the third lowest 18-hole team total at Iowa.

With that mark, the Hawkeyes are hoping to carry momentum into their last regular-season tournament of the spring — the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind.

The third-year coach said the setup of the Hawkeye Invitational mirrors that of the team’s next event.

“We’ve been competitive,” Hankins said. “ We’re out there grinding, and for three-and-a-half weeks, we haven’t really had that 100 percent grind going.

“I feel like now, some of that competitive stuff is out of the way, and we can obviously try to get better and compete for a championship at Purdue.”

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