Men's golf heads to Rod Myers Invitational


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After waiting 13 days between their first two tournaments, members of the Iowa men's golf team are in the midst of a four-day period that separates them from their next tournament.

That wait is almost over.

Iowa will tee off Saturday morning in the Rod Myers Invitational at the Duke University Golf Club. The event will feature 11 teams, including five ranked in the top 50 of the newest golfstat.com rankings β€” No. 5 Tennessee, No. 19 Baylor, No. 22 Iowa, No. 25 Tulsa, and No. 43 Charlotte. Two rounds will be played beginning Saturday morning, and a third round will be played on Oct. 2.

Following a second-straight sixth-place finish in as many tournaments at the Golfweek Conference Challenge on Sept. 27, the Hawkeyes are anxious to erase those disappointing memories.

Head coach Mark Hankins said the quick turnaround should help his squad do just that.

"We're competitively sharp right now," he said. "I think that can be an advantage. It's not like we need to practice [to prepare] β€” we've been playing, playing, playing."

Redshirt freshman Ian Vandersee had similar feelings about being back in Iowa City for only a few days before hitting a golf course again.

"There's no better way to prepare for a tournament than playing in a tournament," he said. "We were out there grinding over every shot, which is a little different than if we were [at practice].

"By having the pressure on us [earlier this week], getting a couple days off and then going to Duke, it will be helpful for us."

The Hawkeyes again will be led by seniors Chris Brant and Barrett Kelpin. The duo played the Rod Myers Invitational last year, when both shot 2-over for the tournament and tied for 20th.

But the experience stops there for the Hawkeyes.

Vandersee didn't play last year because of the redshirt, and sophomore Steven Ihm played his freshman year at Indian Hills Community College.

Joining those four and making his first career start for Iowa will be freshman Brian Bullington. The Frankfort, Ill., native takes the place of senior Brad George, who played in the first two tournaments of the year.

"It was just something that needed to be changed," Hankins said.

Because three of Iowa's five golfers have never played at Duke University Golf Club, Ihm stressed on Wednesday the importance of today's practice round.

"You really have to pay attention in the practice round and find out where your spots to miss are," he said. "The practice rounds for courses you've never played are twice as important, because you got to know where to miss; you have to get a comfortable feeling around the greens."

Despite the inexperience on this weekend's course, Brant said he thinks some of the younger golfers have gained valuable experience at the college level through the first two tournaments. He pointed to Ihm and Vandersee in particular as two who have already improved.

Ihm posted his first subpar round as a Hawkeye earlier this week at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Vandersee dramatically improved from the first event to the second β€” his lowest score at the Gopher Invitational on Sept. 11-12 was 7-over, while his highest score early this week at the Golfweek event was 3-over.

"I think this was a good week for the new guys," Brant said. "I saw definite improvement. They seem more confident and ready to play."

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