The University of Iowa men’s golf team finished tied for 22nd in the nation at the 2012 NCAA Championships, held at the historic Riviera Country Club. The Hawkeyes shot a final round total of +15 (299) to finish with a three-round total of +36 (888). Iowa has qualified for the NCAA Championships in three of the last four seasons.
“Unfortunately we kind of played to our pre-tournament seed today,” head coach Mark Hankins said. “Down the stretch, we pressed a bit to try to get into the final eight and it cost us some shots . The guys got out to a great start and you can’t fault them for their effort; everybody was trying as hard as they could. The golf course played difficult, the pins were in tough spots and if you shoot an even par round out here today you’re a pretty good player.”
In his first ever NCAA Championships, freshman Joseph Winslow led Iowa individually with a top 15 finish, tying for 13th. Winslow fired an even par 71 in the final round for a 54-hole mark of +2 (215).
Winslow started the day with a birdie on the par-5 first hole before stringing together three-straight pars. Winslow then traded birdies and bogeys on holes 5-8 and finished the back nine with a par, carding a 34 on the front side.
Winslow started with bogeys on two of his first three holes on the back, but drained a birdie on 15 and finished with three pars to shoot even par on the day.
“I got off to a good start again today,” Winslow said. “I had it two-under through the first few holes of my round and that was good. I made some pretty good putts coming through there which gave me some confidence. I struggled a little bit through the middle of the round and was able to find it again. I made a great birdie on 15; hit driver, 4-iron in there to about six feet and was able to roll it in and was able to finish with even par so I was pretty happy about that.”
Hankins was pleased with his freshman’s performance in his first NCAA Championships.
“He shot two over for the tournament in a pressure packed NCAA Final,” Hankins said. “He did a great job of managing his mental focus this week and wasn’t going to settle for anything less than 100 percent commitment to each shot. A 71 from the number 1 spot today in the final round, what can i say, I was very proud of him.”
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Senior Barrett Kelpin shot a final round score of +6 (77) to finish tied for 77th at +11 (224). Kelpin dropped birdies on one and six, but double bogeyed seven and bogeyed eight and nine. He carded four bogeys and five pars on the back side.
Senior Chris Brant tied for 89th with a 54-hole score of +12 (225). Brant finished his NCAA Championships with a solid round of +2 (73). He started the front nine with five pars before a bogey on six. After a birdie on seven, Brant bogeyed eight and dropped a par on nine for a 36.
Brant started the back nine with two birdies but gave both strokes back with a double bogey on 14. Brant bogeyed 17 but made par on the famous 18th hole to finish +2 on the day.
Sophomore Steven Ihm and redshirt freshman Ian Vandersee each tied for 105th place with a +14 (227). Both players also shot +7 (78) in the final round.
Ihm played the front nine at +1 (36), with one birdie and two bogeys. He struggled on the back nine, tallying four bogeys and finished with a double bogey.
Vandersee had birdied the first and 16th hole and carded eight pars. He also found trouble on the back nine, dropping six shots in the final nine holes.
Thursday was also the final collegiate round for Kelpin and Brant, who finished their Hawkeye careers as two of the best players in school history. Kelpin recorded the second-lowest season stroke average in school history this year and Brant finished as a two-time All-Big Ten honoree.
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“It’s weird to think that now that I’m done playing for Iowa but it’s been a great career,” Kelpin said. “I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot as a person, playing for Iowa. I’m really happy that I got the opportunity to play in three NCAA Championships. It wasn’t the end we wanted today, but we had a great time together this year and I think we achieved a lot more as a team than a lot of people thought we would.
“I’m really proud of all my teammates, and especially Joseph, for how well he played this week,” Kelpin added. “He really came up and played some great golf this week. He’s going to have a great career at Iowa and so are the rest of the younger guys. I’m excited for them.”
“It’s been fun to help the team and kind of be part of the growth of the team and take it from the basement of the Big Ten and the basement of golf to the top, to an elite program,” Brant said. “The other seniors and I worked really hard, along with Coach Hankins’ help, to bring the program out of the dungeon and we’ve seen good results. It’s been really fun to be a part of.”
“They were so instrumental through the years,” Hankins said of Kelpin and Brant. “Just solid work ethic guys, good character guys. You never had to worry about those two as far as them giving 100 percent.
“These two guys have always led by example,” Hankins added. “Two great players, including the other three seniors, Brad George, Jared Walahoski, and Jed Dirksen will be out the door and I’m going to miss them. It’s impossible to replace that kind of character and great guys.”