Iowa men's golf still searching for starting lineup


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Iowa men's head golf coach Mark Hankins said it himself. The Hawkeyes had a "decent" fall season but left some things to be desired.

Namely, a complete team effort for one tournament.

Hankins' squad recorded two top-five finishes in their five events — a goal the fifth-year head coach stated regularly before tournaments. Iowa's fourth-place finish at the Rod Myers Invitational was the team's best result of the fall. The Hawkeyes also placed sixth on two occasions and ninth at the last tournament of the fall.

"We had a great schedule, and we stayed competitive, but we definitely didn't challenge for a championship too many times," Hankins said. "That's disappointing, because we didn't put it all together."

Putting it all together will be the next step for this group of Hawkeyes. What that means is getting five golfers on the course who each have a legitimate chance of placing in the top 20 — or maybe even the top 10 — Hankins said.

Iowa's first tournament in Minnesota almost two months ago was, in a way, a microcosm of the entire season. Often times the Hawkeyes got very solid performances from one or two golfers, but the bottom of the lineup didn't hold.

Chris Brant and Barrett Kelpin finished first and second at the Golden Gopher Invitational on Sept. 11-12. The Hawkeyes placed sixth.

"We just need to get better," Hankins said. "We're just not good enough at the bottom end of our lineup.

"You need five guys who can win a golf tournament. If you have five guys who are looking to win a golf tournament and can win a golf tournament, then you're going to have a good team. We didn't have [five guys] in the fall."

Brant, Kelpin, and Steven Ihm shared the spotlight throughout the course of the season. Brant earned his first career outright tournament victory at the Golden Gopher Invitational. Kelpin was a model of consistency, leading the team with a scoring average of 71.93. Ihm, a first-year transfer from Indian Hills Community College, was the Hawkeyes' top finisher at two tournaments — including a second-place finish in only his third career start, at the Rod Myers Invitational.

"As a team, I think we had some ups and downs," Brant said. "We got some youth in there and got some experience for them, [but] we didn't win any tournaments, which was a bummer. I just don't think we played up to our expectations and our ability level."

Ian Vandersee was the only other golfer to play in all five fall events, and he, too, was inconsistent after redshirting last season. In all but one tournament, he posted at least one round of only 1-over par or better. But big numbers crept up on Vandersee at times, causing him to fire rounds of at least 6-over at three of the five events.

"We didn't exactly play as well as we wanted to. Consistency is obviously a big part in getting to where we need to get," Vandersee said. "Now, it's just going to be [about] getting better by the beginning of the spring."

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