Fourth-place finish in Robert Kepler Invite for men's golf

BY BEN WOLFSON | APRIL 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's golf team recorded a fourth-place finish at the Robert Kepler Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, its last competition before the Big Ten championships.

Illinois and Kent State tied for first place — both carded 857 for the weekend (5 over). Host Ohio State shot 860, and the Hawkeyes finished behind them with a final score of 872.

"I don't even know how to describe today," head coach Mark Hankins said. "We're a little disappointed; we could've played better today as a team."

Despite three Hawkeyes — seniors Vince India and Brad Hopfinger and junior Chris Brant — placing in the top 15 individually, Iowa's two other starters, juniors Barrett Kelpin and Brad George struggled.

After starting Sunday in first place, India continued his streak of a top-five finishes in every medal play tournament this year alive — he placed fourth, carding a three-round total of 212 (1 under).

Next was Brant, who fired a season-low 69 on Sunday to finish 10th, and Hopfinger put together three solid rounds to finish 14th.

"Personally, I was pleased with today's round," Brant said. "Today I executed well and had fun. As a team, we showed this week certain times we played well, while other times I don't think we managed parts of the course how we needed to, and it showed."

The Hawkeyes' fourth and fifth starters Kelpin and George finished 36th and 48th, respectively.
Kelpin's three-round total was 226, and George carded 230.

"I think the competition prepares us," Hankins said. "Every week is different; the competition will help identify weaknesses that we have."

Iowa will have a quick turnaround; the team will leave Wednesday to travel to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Big Ten championships Friday through May 1. The Hawkeyes will head into Kampen Golf Course with their highest ranking in program history heading into the postseason.

"As a team, I don't think we played as well as we would've liked [this weekend]," Hopfinger said. "The positives are that we learned from that, moved on, and finished well. Probably the best thing about this weekend is that it's so close to Big Tens, and the best way to get ready for a tournament is competition."

After facing Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin this weekend, the Hawkeyes will get another crack at them and the other Big Ten teams as they seek the league crown.

"[The Robert Kepler Invitational] was a good prep for next week because it's a difficult course, too," Brant said. "[Looking back on the season], I think I'll remember the good group of guys we have and the amount of talent and firepower. Any given day, we can play with anyone in the country; we're going to make some noise in the last few weeks."

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