Men's golf team travels to Columbus for final tournament

BY BEN WOLFSON | APRIL 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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A historic season for the Iowa men's golf team, in which they captured five tournament victories, is almost over. The Hawkeyes will travel to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to take part in their last tournament of the regular season before they compete in the Big Ten championships next week.

The Robert Kepler Invitational will take place on the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club and will act as the final tune-up for the 11th-ranked Hawkeyes. Play is scheduled to take place Saturday through April 24.

Iowa will face No. 13 Illinois, No. 25 Ohio State, and No. 37 Kent State, along with Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dayton, Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan, and Ball State.

"I think once we play against all the Big Ten teams, we see how we match up against each other going into [the Big Ten championships]" junior Brad George said. "If we have a good week and end up beating the teams there, it will give us more confidence."

After winning the Hawkeye-TaylorMade Invitational on Sunday in the wind and rain, the Iowa starters — Vince India, Brad Hopfinger, Chris Brant, Barrett Kelpin, and George — are preparing to face similar conditions on Saturday in Columbus.

"It's always hard to play in these type of conditions, especially if you aren't used to it," India said. "The more we play in the cold weather — the wind and rain — the better we will be in the future in those kind of situations … This [past] weekend only helped us out with our mental toughness and preparation, and hopefully, it'll help us this weekend, when it's supposed to be windy."

Despite the forecast, head coach Mark Hankins still prepares his team for Columbus the same as he has all season, and he isn't concerned about the weather.

"In golf, we play outdoors; there are really no excuses," he said. "Low score still wins, and you just have to find a way to get that, do your best, and keep grinding."

Another benefit of this tournament is that the Scarlet Course is very similar to the course the Hawkeyes will encounter next week when they travel to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Big Ten championships.

"Purdue and Ohio State are both long courses that test every part of your game," India said. "I think if we play well this week, it will give us good confidence heading into Big Tens next week."

Though the tournament might be a chance for Iowa to prove it is the top team in the conference, the Hawkeyes didn't seem to treat it that way.

"Everyone feels pretty confident right now," Kelpin said "I don't think we're going to put too much pressure on ourselves."

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