Iowa golf team wins fifth tournament of the year

BY BEN WOLFSON | APRIL 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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The 14th-ranked Iowa men's golf team successfully defended its home course Sunday.

The Hawkeyes carded a two-round team score of 291 at Finkbine and held off Charlotte and Missouri to win the Hawkeye-TaylorMade Invitational for the second year in a row.

After winning four tournaments in the fall, the victory gave Iowa its first tournament win of the spring season.

Senior Vince India's two rounds of 71 were good enough to earn him his third tournament title of the year. The nation's eighth-ranked player was joined on the winner's podium by Charlotte's Andy Sajevic, who fired a blistering 67 on Sunday to tie India for medalist honors.

"Today, I was pretty calm out there, and I didn't get upset at all," India said. "I stayed patient, put [the ball] in good spots, and made birdies."

The tournament originally was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on April 16, but snow and wind delayed the start for more than four hours. Because of the weather, the event ended after only two rounds instead of the originally slated three rounds.

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Senior Brad Hopfinger continued his strong play with another top-10 finish. He shot rounds of 76 and 72, which earned him a share of 10th place.

Juniors Brad George and Barrett Kelpin carded totals of 151 over two rounds to tie for 17th place, and junior Chris Brant finished right behind them tied for 20th after shooting 76 on both days.

"We had most of the guys right around par most of the day, and the course was in great shape," head coach Mark Hankins said. "We played a normal round, and that happened to be good enough. I think it was a great win."

Usually playing on the road, the Hawkeyes were able to enjoy a rare home tournament and play in front of friends and family, which India was happy about.

"My mom and sister came out for probably the second time ever [in college], and it was a good crowd," he said. "I'm glad I played well for them; I needed to get the crowd on my side and get the momentum going … We fed off each other."

Besides the five starters, Iowa had three golfers who competed in the tournament individually. Senior James Reiss tied for 37th with a 155 (11 over) in his first action of the spring.

Junior Jared Walahoski, also competing for the first time this season, fired a 156 (12 over) to finish tied for 42nd, and junior Jed Dirksen finished tied for 55th with a 160.

The Hawkeyes will compete again this weekend when they travel to Columbus, Ohio, for the Robert Kepler Invitational to take part in their last tournament of the spring before the Big Ten championships begin.

"Being aware of those distractions on the golf course, we do a good job making it as much of a normal tournament week as we can," assistant coach Tyler Stith said about the team's approach to playing at home. "Each tournament we play is important, but it is nice to play at home in front of family and friends."

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