May 1, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - University of Iowa junior Chris Brant finished runner-up at the 2011 Big Ten Men's Golf Championships with a tournament total of even par 288. After a final round at one-under 287, Iowa's lowest team round of the tournament, the Hawkeyes finished third in the team race with a score of 1181 (+29). To view final results and tournament stats, click HERE.
Coupled with Iowa's second place finish at last year's Big Ten Championships, 2011 marks the best back-to-back finishes at the conference championships in school history.
Illinois won the league championship with an 1160 (+8) while Northwestern took home second with an 1179 (+27). Both Illinois and Northwestern fired team rounds of -7 (281) Sunday.
Iowa had three players finish inside the top-20. Following Sunday's final round, senior Vince India was awarded the Big Ten's prestigious Les Bolstad Trophy, honoring the individual with the lowest season scoring average in the conference. The tournament was held on the 7,645-yard, par 72 Kampen Course at Purdue's Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.
Brant took home some hardware from West Lafayette, as he was awarded a medal for his runner-up finish, and was given a certificate for his all-tournament team honor.
Brant entered the final round one stroke back of Illinois' Luke Guthrie as the two were paired together, along with Northwestern's David Lipsky, for the final round. After six holes, the three players were within three strokes of one another and sitting at the top of the leaderboard, setting the stage for an exciting finish.
Brant picked up a quick birdie on the first hole that gave him a share of the lead before bogeying two, dropping him back to two-over. Another bogey on five brought him to three-over for the tournament, but a birdie at nine sent him back to two-over at the turn.
Brant turned in five-consecutive pars to begin the back nine and a birdie on 15 brought him within one stroke of the lead at one-over par.
Another birdie putt found the hole on 16, but Guthrie would sink his birdie attempt to maintain a one-stroke advantage. Both men recorded pars on 17 and 18 and Brant entered the clubhouse with a runner-up finish, believed to be Iowa's best individual finish since Brad Klapprott won the Big Ten championship in 1992.
Guthrie and Brant were the only two players in the 54-man field that shot even par or better for the tournament.
"Luke and I battled hard," said Brant. "Luke's a great player. He was obviously one ahead of me going into the round today and we battled hard and went back and forth. He built up a little bit of a lead, but I hung in there and he beat me by one. He's a great player. We've battled a lot throughout the years, but it was close."
India shot even par in his final round and tied for 13th with a mark of 295 (+7). He made par on his first three holes and a birdie on four brought him to one-under on the day. A bogey on six brought him back to even par, but India was able to make the turn at one-under with the help of a birdie on eight. Other than a bogey on 11, India put together a consistent back nine that included eight pars.
"This week was no different than the rest for Vince," said Head Coach Mark Hankins. "He came prepared every day, kept his cool and did a great job of maintaining what he had for the round. Today even par was a good score when we needed it. I'm very proud of Vince that he hung in there. He's used to being at the top of the leaderboard, but he hung in there for his team and put up a good score for today."
India has finished in the top-15 in all nine stroke play tournaments this season, including eight top-10 finishes.
Senior Brad Hopfinger shot a final round at two-over par 74 to finish tied for 17th with a 72-hole total of 296 (+8). After two bogeys to begin the round, Hopfinger settled in with four-straight pars. Another bogey on seven brought him to three-over on the day, but he responded with seven consecutive pars. He was four-over heading into the toughest three-hole stretch on the Kampen Course, 16,17 and 18, but birdies on 16 and 18 brought him to two-over par on the day.
Junior Barrett Kelpin put together a good front nine, including a birdie on seven, and made the turn at one-over par. A tough bogey on the par 5 10th hole brought him to two-over but a run of birdies on 14, 15 and 16 put him at one-under for his final round, his best 18-hole stretch of the tournament. Kelpin finished in a tie for 28th with a score of 302 (+14).
Brad George tied for 49th with a four-round total of 314 (+26). With 13 pars during Sunday's round, the junior posted an 18-hole total of five-over par 77, tying his low round for the tournament.
After the final round was complete, the Hawkeye golf team was able to meet legendary golf course designer Pete Dye, who was in attendance Sunday to see the Big Ten's best battle the course he designed.
NCAA Regional selections will take place after all conference championships have been completed. Conference champions receive an automatic berth into regionals, with the remaining field of teams being selected nationally at-large. Regional competitions will be contested at six different sites, May 19-21.
"We played alright, we had some bright spots," Brant said. "We'll learn from the times that we didn't do so well and we'll use it to grow. I think we're in great shape for regionals."
"We've played well everywhere in the country this year," added Hankins. "That's why we do it, so we're prepared to go wherever we need to go and play well against whoever we need to. I think we'll be excited to get out and get an opportunity to play against some teams that maybe haven't seen us. Obviously, we feel like we have a team that's good enough to go on to the NCAA Championships, so we're going to work hard the next couple of weeks and make that a reality."