Brant now a major contributor for men's golf team

BY BEN WOLFSON | MAY 03, 2011 7:20 AM

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Chris Brant, a three-year starter for the Iowa men's golf team, has been consistent throughout his career.

Perhaps his best performance, though, came this past weekend, when he battled head-to-head with Illinois' Luke Guthrie at the Big Ten championship. After the first two rounds, Brant was shooting a blistering 5 under to lead the 54-man field.

"[Brant] has practiced a lot more this semester and put in his time to identify his weaknesses," head coach Mark Hankins said. "[He's] learned how to adapt at the tournament to score his best, and this tournament was no different."

Paired with Guthrie on his final day, Brant matched him down the stretch. He sunk five-consecutive pars to begin the back nine and then birdied holes 15 and 16.

Unfortunately for Brant, Guthrie sunk his birdie attempt on hole 16 and ended up winning the tournament by just one stroke.

Brant and Guthrie were the only players in the field who finished the tournament at even par or better, and Brant's finish was the best for the Hawkeyes since 1992, when Brad Klapprott won the tournament.

"When I played well this week, I had a really upbeat attitude, really carefree," Brant said. "I stayed in the present well and had a lot of fun. When I won the Golfweek, I carried that same attitude and mindset, and I tried to duplicate that in following rounds this spring."

Brant, who has played in the No. 3 starter's spot this season, has taken his game to new heights.

During his fall season, he shared co-medalist honors with teammate Vince India after both carded three-round totals of 206 (10 under) at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.

It was the first tournament win of their college careers.

"I knew Chris always had that potential to be one of those really good players," India said. "Chris definitely felt a little bit better about his game, and just watching him play [this spring], he has a sense of confidence and overall knowledge about how good his game is."

With his near win at the conference championship this past weekend, that gives Brant four top-20 finishes this spring — the LSU Invitational, the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, and the Hawkeye-TaylorMade Invitational were the others.

One reason for the steady improvement this spring has been his success with his irons.

"My ball-striking is improved [this spring]; I always hit it off the tee fairly well but my mid to short irons have improved, and I've been hitting it closer to the hole, which gives me more opportunities for birdies," Brant said.

India has noticed the improvements in his teammate's game and believes Brant's play this spring has helped alleviate some pressure on him and senior Brad Hopfinger, the team's No. 2 starter.

"[At Big Tens] I wasn't surprised to see Chris up there — he's got one of the best short games I've ever seen," India said. "He kind of plots around the golf course without getting upset … it's good knowing we can get those three good scores in every round."

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