DI Male Athlete of the Year: Vince India

BY BEN WOLFSON | MAY 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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After compiling the best single season in Iowa golf history, senior Vince India has been named The Daily Iowan's Male Athlete of the Year.

His historic season began last summer, when he won the Illinois State Amateur and qualified for the U.S. Amateur. That win and a new approach to his game vaulted India into the record books this season.

"When [Vince] first came here [as a freshman], he wasn't competitive every day," head coach Mark Hankins said. "There were some days where he just kind of mailed it in, but as a senior he comes to practice and tries hard every day. I think just learning to stay positive on the golf course and being patient was big for him."

During the fall season, India finished in the top five in all five tournaments the team participated in, including his first two college wins — at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, where he shared co-medalist honors with teammate Chris Brant, and at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate.

India has garnered national attention and been ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation by Golfstat. Golfweek writer Lance Ringler has been particularly impressed by India's season.

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"I think Vince has had a tremendous year," Ringler told the DI. "There's no question he'll be an All-American; he's just been a leader on the golf course, and he's made the rest of [Iowa's] players pick up their game."

India's outstanding year continued this spring, when he won his third college tournament in front of the home crowd at Finkbine Golf Course for the Hawkeye-TaylorMade Invitational.

The Big Ten Championships on May 1 was the only time all year India finished outside of the top five when he carded a 295 over four rounds to tie for 13th. That weekend, however, India was presented with the Les Bolstad trophy, which is given annually to the Big Ten golfer with the lowest stroke average.

The Deerfield, Ill., native tallied an impressive 71.08 stroke average during his senior season, which will be the lowest in school history — besting fellow teammate Brad Hopfinger, who set the current mark of 72.5 last year.

"This year has given me confidence in my game, and hopefully, it helps take me to the professional level," India said. "[When I've played this year] I'm just a lot more relaxed; each round it's more about having fun than trying to go out and shoot a perfect number."

India was recognized on May 2 as the recipient of the Big Ten Player of the Year award, the first time a Hawkeye has won since Brad Klapprott in 1992.

"I've got to credit Mark Hankins a lot — he was the source of my motivation and leadership," India said. "It was nice to see where we were my freshman year and turn [Iowa] into such a good program in four years time. It means a lot to me, these four years with the team have been the best of my life."

The Hawkeyes will travel to Zionsville, Ind., next week to compete at the Wolf Run Golf Course in the NCAA regional. They hope to advance to the NCAA championship held in June.

After NCAAs, India will turn his focus to his dream of becoming a professional golfer as he will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.

"I think [NCAA regionals] will be a tough test," India said. "If I have a good summer, I'll give the pro tour a shot, I might go to qualifying school in the fall or work my way onto one of the many tours."

Whatever the future holds for India, he is sure to be remembered for his stellar career as a Hawkeye.

"I think if you looked at his numbers, he's had the most incredible year probably that I've ever coached," Hankins said. "He was in the top seven in every tournament until this final event at the Big Ten championships, and with a stroke average that was the ninth lowest in history of the Les Bolstad Award, it shows you the magnitude [of India's year.]"

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