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Iowa men's golf heads to Georgia

BY BEN SCHUFF | OCTOBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men's golf team will play in what some call "The Masters of college golf" starting Oct. 23.

The Hawkeyes will tee off at 8 a.m. in the U.S. Collegiate Championship at the Golf Club of Georgia. The three-day tournament will be played on the Lakeside Course in Alpharetta, Ga. 

If the current rankings hold, the field should live up to the impressive billing.

Eleven teams in the 14-team field are ranked in Golfstat.com's top 30: No. 4 Auburn, No. 6 Washington, No. 7 Florida State, No. 12 Georgia Tech, No. 13 Virginia, No. 14 Kent State, No. 19 Clemson, No. 24 UCLA, No. 26 Texas A&M, No. 27 Duke, and No. 29 Iowa. The event will also host eight of the top 50 players in Division I.

This is the first time for the Black and Gold to play in the U.S. Collegiate Championships; Iowa head coach Mark Hankins said the tournament replaced the Notre Dame's Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic on the schedule.

"This is a high-quality event, and we've heard good things about it," Hankins said. "We're looking for new experiences to get us to the next level to win championships."

Teams will receive championship-style treatment; every player will be assigned a caddie, and each team will be given two Mercedes-Benz SUVs to use during the event. The 18th green offers a feature rarely seen in college golf: corporate skyboxes.

The five Iowa golfers who will enjoy the amenities while competing against some of the nation's best are Barrett Kelpin, Chris Brant, Steven Ihm, Ian Vandersee, and Brad George.

Although this will be the first time for Iowa to play in the event, Kelpin, Brant, and George have had experience on the course. The three were part of a group that played at the Golf Club of Georgia in March, when the team traveled south for a spring break match-play event.

"[The course] is a good test of golf," Brant said. "It's not super long, but it requires you to be very accurate and to be a good putter because the greens are undulating."

Brant will try to rebound from his performance three weeks ago at the Rod Myers Invitational, one he described as "an anomaly." The senior attributed his poor play to having his feet aligned too far to the right. This caused him to compensate other parts of his swing, leading to a team-high 14-over at the event.

The past three weeks of all practice and no tournament play allowed him to fix the alignment issues, he said, and he is "excited to play with some of the best guys in the country."

Making his return to the lineup this weekend is George, who didn't compete at the Rod Myers Invitational.

The Marion native said sitting out the last tournament drove him to get back into the lineup.

"Just the fact that I wasn't there and I had to watch the scores on a computer [was motivating]," George said. "I [felt] like I'm playing decently good enough to [play the tournaments], so I just needed to prove myself in prequalifying and qualifying."


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