At the beginning of his college career, Chris Brant was simply trying to find a spot in the Iowa lineup. Fast forward four years and Brant, now a senior, has developed into a quiet leader that is among the best college players in the nation.
Brant is the defending champion of this week at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and is trying to guide a new-look Hawkeye squad back to the the winner’s circle. Brant and teammate Vince India, who was a senior last season, shared medalist honors a year ago at 10 under.
In the opening round, Brant toured his way around the par-72, 7,010-yard Spirit Hollow layout recording five birdies and an eagle to post a 2-under 70 and sit three shots behind leader Stephan Jaeger of Chattanooga. Two weeks ago, Brant opened his senior season with a victory at The Gopher Invitational – his second college victory.
Brant is a textbook player for hard work. The native of Edwardsville, Ill., did not have a spectacular junior career and statistics diagram his improvement. As a freshman his scoring average was 74.9, followed by 73.5 as a sophomore and last year he finished with a 72.2 mark. After his initial collegiate season he ranked No. 528 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Last season he finished No. 55.
“First of all, he is really smart,” Iowa coach Mark Hankins said. “I think he has figured out how he plays best. He has his mental approach, pre-tournament routine and pre-round routine down to a science and he tries to get as relaxed as he can on the golf course so he can hit good golf shots.”
Brant also acknowledges his improvement.
“I was just trying to get that fourth or fifth spot and now I find myself trying to win the golf tournament,” Brant said. “Its been a testament to my continued improvement and our program giving me those opportunities.”
Brant’s approach has not changed.
“I try to get better and see what can I do to get a little better everyday,” Brant said.
If history suggest anything to us about Brant, expect to hear more from him on a bigger scale this season.
“He deserves everything and the attention he is getting this year because he has worked for it,” Hankins said.