Iowa golfers take top two spots at tournament


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At times, Chris Brant was right on his game.

Other times? Not so much.

During Monday’s third round of the Gopher Invitational, though, the good outweighed the bad.

The senior posted his tournament-best round of 3-under 69 en route to his first outright tournament victory as a Hawkeye — he had tied with former teammate Vince India for first at the Golfweek Conference Challenge last fall.

After entering the third round tied for seventh, Brant quickly made his way up the leaderboard by birdying five of his first seven holes.

“I didn’t feel like I played outstanding all week, except for about seven holes today on the front nine,” he said.

The 22-year-old ran into some trouble on the back nine; as he double-bogeyed the par-5 13th and bogeyed the par-4 15th.

He recovered by posting an eagle on the par-5 16th and recorded pars on the remaining two holes to finish at 2-under for the tournament.

“On the 16th tee, I just kind of reflected and settled down, and I realized that it’s just golf,” he said. “I needed to just hit a shot and stop being so stressed out about everything. I just went back to swinging easily and freely, and it worked.”

Right behind Brant on the leaderboard was fellow senior Barrett Kelpin. He finished the day where he started — in second place.

Kelpin carded his highest score (3-over 75) of the 54-hole tournament on Monday, but he remained near the lead all day thanks to first and second rounds that were both played under par.

In those first two rounds, Kelpin recorded nine birdies. But during the final round, he only had two.

The native of Kalamazoo, Mich. finished the event at 1-under par.

“I knew it would probably take 3- or 4-under to win it,” he said. “I just couldn’t quite do what I needed to on the back nine. I missed a few putts that I had been making to keep my momentum going earlier in the week.”

Overall, the Hawkeyes finished in sixth place out of 14 teams.

Heading into the weekend, head coach Mark Hankins said he was hoping for a top-five team finish.
But much like last year, when the squad placed sixth at the same tournament and left disappointed, they left again knowing a better finish had been a possibility.

“[I’m] fairly disappointed in our younger guys for not being able to compete a little bit better,” the fifth-year head coach said. “We need to work on that for next week.”

First-year Hawkeye Steven Ihm suffered a drastic fall down the leaderboard on the final day of competition. Ihm fired two-consecutive rounds of 74 to end Sunday tied for 20th, but he wound up in a tie for 52nd after shooting an 84 on Monday.

Senior Brad George and redshirt freshman Ian Vandersee struggled as well. George finished the tournament 19-over, and Vandersee was 32-over at the completion of play.

“We learned a lot from what happened this weekend as a team,” Kelpin said. “Hopefully, guys who didn’t play how they wanted to will take a lot away from it on what they need to work on.”

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