Hawkeye men's golf leaves NCAAs disappointed

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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A tie for 22nd at the NCAA men's golf championships left a sour taste in the mouths of Iowa golfers.

The Hawkeyes' first-round score of 290 on May 29 tied for the fourth-lowest amongst a 30-team field that played at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

But identical second- and third-round scores of 299 saw the Black and Gold fall down the leaderboard further than they would've liked.

Iowa's nine-stroke difference from round one to round two represented the fourth-largest stroke increase between rounds.

"We thought we dropped six or eight shots on those last five holes, and six or eight shots at a national championship is about six spots [on the team leaderboard]," head coach Mark Hankins said. "If we could've finished 14th or 15th, I would've felt OK about it."

The team's third-round play in particular, Hankins said, prevented Iowa from having a better finish in its third appearance at the NCAA championships in the past four seasons.

Iowa golfers combined for 1 birdie, 9 bogies, and 2 double-bogies on holes 14-18 on the tournament's final day.

"The pressure, it mounts," Hankins said. "I think we were all pressing a bit just to make that final eight [and move onto match play]."

Freshman Joseph Winslow posted Iowa's low score (plus 2) and tied for 13th individually.

Competing as the team's No. 5 golfer, he got off to a hot start at the Riviera by carding an even par 71 on day one and finishing the first round tied for third.

Winslow iterated Hankins' disappointment with the team's finish despite the freshman's individual success in his first NCAA tourney.

"We're really competitive, and we like to win," Winslow said. "We didn't feel like we played up to our standards, so we weren't very happy leaving there."

Iowa's two competing seniors — Barrett Kelpin and Chris Brant — were next in individual scoring for the Hawkeyes. Kelpin finished tied for 77th (plus 11), and Brant tied for 89th (plus 12).

"We just managed the course better the first day," Brant said. "We did a better job of putting the ball where we needed to on the first day — we put it in positions where we could score and contend. On the second and third days, I don't think we did it as well."

Iowa and Illinois were the only schools to represent the Big Ten at the NCAA Tournament. Iowa entered the week ranked ahead of the Fighting Illini but fell to the Midwest rival by one stroke by day three.

"I think we exceeded a lot of people's expectations — not our own — but I think we exceeded a lot of expectations by finishing as the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten [at the end of the regular season] and to make it to nationals," Brant said.

"We felt we belonged in the top eight, we felt like we were one of the best teams in the country … It showed through the spring season. We just didn't quite have our best stuff the last two days."

Follow DI sports reporter Ben Schuff on Twitter.

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