Kansas Set to Open Spring Slate at Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate

Feb. 20, 2013

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – When Chris Gilbert tees off Friday morning, 121 days will have passed since the Kansas senior claimed his first collegiate medalist honors in the Jayhawks’ last tournament of the fall. Kansas will be counting on the momentum to still be there when the men’s golf team wakes from its competitive hibernation at the fifth annual Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif., Feb. 22-24.

Gilbert, a native of nearby Simi Valley, Calif., used back-to-back rounds of 68 and a final round 69 to tie for the top of the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate leaderboard in October and solidified his spot at the top of the Kansas lineup with four top 20 finishes during the fall. He’ll be joined on the Jayhawks’ opening weekend by Stan Gautier and Jackson Foth, with two additional spots on KU’s five-man scoring team to be decided between Alex Gutesha, Dylan McClure, Ryley Haas and Bryce Brown.

“When he goes to a golf tournament he’s expecting to win, which is pretty cool to see for a kid who has only won once,” Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel said, “but that’s what winning can do for you. I don’t think (that expectation) is changing because it’s our first event of the spring. He’s played there before, he knows the golf course and right now he’s playing well. I’m excited to get out and see what he can do, see if it carries over from the fall to the spring.”

Kansas will face a 17-team field that features schools from all over the country and will get a chance to see how it stacks up against several conference foes as one of four Big 12 teams playing the 7,305-yard, par-72 course that used to serve as host of the PGA’s Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Iowa State, TCU and Texas Tech will send teams, along with regional rivals Nebraska and Wichita State. Wyoming is the tournament host also welcomes Oregon State, Santa Clara, St. Mary’s, San Francisco, Idaho, Southern Utah, Cal Poly, Arkansas-Little Rock, George Mason and Louisiana-Monroe.

The Jayhawks remain a work-in-progress under Bermel, who continues his first full season as the leader of the program after building successful programs at Drake, Iowa State and most recently Colorado State. The format of the tournament – three days, with a single round of 18 holes each day – and an extra day of preparation – Kansas arrived in California Wednesday – will allow Bermel and assistant coach Zach Zaremba an opportunity to correct mistakes and encourage improvement from one round to the next.

“We’re just excited to see where we stand,” Bermel said. “Within the team, I think I’ve seen some guys make a lot of progress from where we started in August and hopefully they continue that progress in this first event of the spring.”

All seven players will compete for Kansas, with two emerging from qualifying as members of the scoring rotation and two competing unattached as individuals. Each player enters the weekend with at least two tournaments played last fall, with McClure posting the highest percentage of rounds counted (80 percent) among those vying for the final scoring spots.

“We haven’t decided on the last two spots, but that’s a good thing,” Bermel said. “We’re going to give them a couple days when we get out there and see how they’re playing. Whatever five we pick, we still need four good scores and that’s going to be critical.”

Kansas last competed at the Wyoming Desert Classic in 2011, when the team finished 12th in a 20 team field after shooting a 916 (+52). Gutesha paced Kansas with a 12th-place finish (222 (+6)) and Gilbert tied for 25th at 10-over (226) for the tournament.

Live scoring for the tournament is available through Golf Gamebook (http://www.golfgamebook.com/club/tournament/elastic/2up-wzfl) and a recap of each round will be posted at KUAthletics.com.

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