Men's golf team finishes ninth in match play

BY BEN WOLFSON | MARCH 23, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's golf team capped off the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship Tuesday with a victory over No. 8 seeded Georgia and a ninth-place finish.

The win was the third in a row for the No. 6 seeded Hawkeyes after they were upset Sunday in the first round by Southern California.

Head coach Mark Hankins said that once the tournament began, his team "tried to do some things that lacked a little patience and put us in a bad position."

Senior Vince India was the only member of the team to win his match as 11th-seeded Southern California downed the Hawkeyes 4-1.

The loss left the Hawkeyes in the consolation bracket of a 16-team field that featured 11 top-25 ranked teams.

"I think we were putting a little too much pressure on ourselves," junior Chris Brant said. "Our games were in the right position, we just didn't execute the way we should have. "In match play, sometimes we just get caught up in the logistics of the match."

Iowa rebounded in its Sunday afternoon match, which pitted the squad against 14-seed Washington State.

The team responded with a 3-2 win over the Cougars as senior Brad Hopfinger and juniors Barrett Kelpin and Jed Dirksen all notched victories.

Hopfinger ended up with an impressive 5-and-4 win — the first number indicating the number of holes by which the match was won, and the second number is the number of holes left to play — over Wazzu's Nick Ellis after Hopfinger began the match with eight-consecutive holes in which he shot at or under par.

Kelpin defeated Hank Frame also in a 5-and-4 win while Dirksen sealed the victory with a 3-and-2 win.

The winning continued on Monday as the squad faced the No. 3 team in the country — Alabama.

Iowa dominated the Tide with a 4-1 decision in which India, Hopfinger, Brant, and Kelpin all recorded individual victories.

India, ranked 11th in the country by Golfweek, beat Alabama's Bud Cauley, the No. 8 player in the nation.

After exchanging holes through the first nine, India carded consecutive birdies on the 12th and 13th holes, then sank a 10-foot birdie putt on green 17 to clinch a 2-and-1 victory.

Hopfinger continued his strong play, shooting at or under par for 16 holes in his win over the Tide's Cory Whitsett.

Kelpin and Dirksen followed with Kelpin closing his match at 3-and-2, and Dirksen came back from an early deficit and notched a 4-and-2 win.

"After having a good fall, we always want to toughen ourselves with the competition," Kelpin said. "It was fun to show we can compete with them."

On Tuesday, the Hawkeyes had to wait for some extra-hole drama before they finally secured a victory. Kelpin needed 19 holes to win his match against Georgia's T.J. Mitchell.

India and Brant also contributed victories for Iowa, and Hopfinger ended the day with his match halved and Dirksen losing.

Despite a ninth-place finish in the tournament, the squad was pleased with how it was able to rebound with three-straight victories, including two over top-15 teams.

"We've been very resilient when we've gotten beat in the past — we've usually come back and won our next match," Hankins said. "[Match play] is something we need to be very good at if we make it to the Final Eight in NCAAs. "We'll have this experience to draw from [later in the season]."

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