Brant Maintains Lead at Big Ten Championships
April 29, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - University of Iowa junior Chris Brant continues to lead through two rounds at the 2011 Big Ten Men's Golf Championships. After a second round score of even par, Brant owns a 36-hole total of five-under par 139, four strokes ahead of Michigan State's Chris Mory and Illinois' Luke Guthrie. The Hawkeyes are in second in the team race with a two round mark of 586 (+10). Illinois leads the conference field at five-over 581. Purdue is hosting the event on the par 72, 7,465-yard Kampen Course at their own Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Hawkeyes owned a two-stroke lead over the field when they made the turn in the second round. Illinois took the lead late in the day on the back nine. Iowa was six-over on the back nine while Illinois went one-under, giving them a five-stroke advantage with plenty of Big Ten golf remaining.
"We got off to a good start today," said Head Coach Mark Hankins. "The conditions were pretty good. We're sitting in second place right now, but honestly it's just halfway through. It doesn't really matter if we're in first or last. We have a lot of golf ahead of us."
With two solid rounds in day one, Brant took an early lead that wasn't relinquished through 36-holes. After three-straight pars to start his second round, Brant tallied a birdie on the fourth that brought him to one-under on the round and six-under on the day. With two tough bogeys on five and six, Brant turned around to shoot par-birdie-par on seven, eight and nine, making the turn at even par for the round.
He stayed consistent with five-consecutive pars to start the back nine, followed by a birdie on 16. Brant rolled in a par on 17 but dropped down to even par for the round with a bogey on 18.
"I just kind of recognized the things I did well in the morning and kept a good attitude all day," said Brant. "If I hit an errant shot, I just went and found it and hit it again. It was just kind of a stress free attitude. Obviously I care a lot about doing well, but I just kept a playful attitude. When I do that I usually get better results."
Brant was paired with Illinois senior and returning national champion Scott Langley. Beyond their Big Ten connection, Brant and Langley grew up competing with one another throughout junior amateur tours. Brant discussed his ability to relax and enjoy a couple rounds of golf with his old friend.
"It kind of took me back to my junior years and high school when we used to kick it around the amateur tour," added Brant. "It kind of brought the kid out in both of us and we just played. We had a good time. It was fun."
Also in the top 10 individually was senior Vince India. After an opening round at even par, India posted a second round of 74 (+2), earning him a tie for eighth place. With a birdie on three, India found himself one-under early in the second round, but posted bogeys on two of his next three holes, bringing him up to one-over par. He responded with two birdies on seven and eight to make the turn at one-under. India, who is ranked as the seventh best individual in college golf by Golfweek and No. 3 by Golfstat.com, posted six pars on the back nine but recorded three bogeys, including one on both 17 and 18, that brought him to two-over on the round and the day.
Senior Brad Hopfinger posted a second round of 74 (+2), tying him for 23rd with a 36-hole total of 149 (+5). He bogeyed one but a birdie on three brought him to even par on the round and two-up on the day. After shooting par on the next five holes, he bogeyed nine and made the turn at one-over on the round. Despite another bogey on 12, Hopfinger posted a par on eight of the nine holes on the back side and entered the clubhouse with an improved second round.
Junior Barrett Kelpin posted a second round of 77 (+5) and is tied for 31st with a two-round total of 152 (+8). He jumped to one-under early in his second round with birdie on one, but a bogey on two brought him back to even par. With four consecutive pars on holes three through six, Kelpin closed the front nine with a tough three-bogey stretch and made the turn at three-over on the round, six over on the day.
After six pars on a seven hole stretch, Kelpin made Iowa's shot of the day with a double-breaking 60-foot birdie putt on the par 3 17th hole. The putt began uphill, caught a downhill slope and broke approximately 20 feet to the cup.
"The pin was tucked front-right next to the water," Kelpin said. "I was in a popular spot on the far left side of the green. I hit it up over a mound and it turned right in there like it had eyes. It felt good making one like that after some close calls that didn't drop for me out there today."
Junior Brad George rounded out the Hawkeye lineup with a two-round mark of 157 (+13). With a second round of eight-over 80, George birdied the fourth hole and recorded pars on eight of his next nine holes.
"It really all doesn't matter until it's all over," Hankins said. "It's just two of four rounds and we have a lot of golf ahead. We just want to come out and play as well as we can tomorrow."
The third round will be played Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. (CT). Iowa will be grouped with Penn State and Illinois, with its tee times beginning at 8:50 a.m. (CT). To follow the tournament and view live stats, click HERE.