Iowa golf disappointed with sixth-place finish


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BURLINGTON — The Iowa men's golf team entered the Golfweek Conference Challenge hoping for a top-five finish.

The squad left Spirit Hollow Golf Course with mixed emotions in sixth place.

After starting the final round at 1-over, the Hawkeyes shot 14-over to finish 20 strokes behind tournament winner Arkansas. The Razorbacks were the only team to finish subpar for the event, doing so with a 5-under 859.

Iowa ended up one stroke behind fifth-place California and four back of fourth-place New Mexico.

"I think obviously we didn't play very well today," Iowa head coach Mark Hankins said. "We had a couple of good individual performances … but we definitely left some shots out there."

One of those good performances came from Ian Vandersee. The redshirt freshman shot a team-low 2-over 74 and tied for 23rd place individually. He did so by recording three bogeys and one birdie.
Following the round, Vandersee's words were similar to those of his teammates: There was some good and there was some bad, but the Hawkeyes learned as a team.

"It was a little disappointing because we were in contention as a team going into [Tuesday]," he said. "I don't think any of us are going to be happy with this finish. But I think in the long run, it will be good for us. It proved we don't have to play all that well to finish in the top-five against some of the best teams in the country."  

Chris Brant and Barrett Kelpin were right behind Vandersee on Tuesday, each finishing the day at 3-over 75. Brant placed the highest of any Black and Gold golfer, finishing the three-day tournament in a tie for 13th at 2-over 218.

Kelpin finished tied for 22nd, but he could have finished at least four spots higher had it not been for an errant drive on the par-5 10th hole. The senior couldn't find his tee shot, had to take a penalty stroke, and wound up with a double bogey.

"We didn't put our best performance in this week as a team, and we all had our struggles here and there," Kelpin said. "So to come out in [in sixth] not playing our best golf, I think it's pretty good, and it shows we can do a lot better if we can come together better as a team."

Sixth place disappointed the Hawkeyes considering they went from 6-under at the end of day one to 15-over in two days. Worse yet, Iowa's 14-over was the second-highest score posted on Tuesday, trailing only the 15-over shot by North Texas and California-Irvine. Those two schools placed 13th and 15th in the 15-team field.

But at the same time, Iowa knows the potential is there by finishing ahead of quality schools — like Georgia Tech, which finished last spring ranked third nationally — without playing its best golf.

"We're a growing team," Hankins said. "We're getting better. We don't have all the pieces in play yet, but it's our second tournament of the year. We hope to get better through this experience."

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