Kansas Golf Looking for More Progress in Desert Shootout

March 20, 2013

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – It didn’t take long for the Kansas men’s golf team to get out of town last weekend, but unlike the rest of the spring breakers, the Jayhawks were excited about more than just warm temperatures and endless sunshine. On the heels of a tournament that saw the Jayhawks enter the final round playing for a team title, Kansas eagerly arrived in Arizona Sunday – four days before the start of Thursday’s Desert Shootout – ready to go to work and contend again.

Kansas caught a glimpse of what it could be individually when Chris Gilbert tied for the win at the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate to close the fall and collectively caught a glimpse of what it hopes to be as the squad teed off the last round of the Louisiana Classics ahead of several nationally-ranked teams as part of the last playing group two weeks ago. It’s an experience the team will look to replicate against a 16-team field on the par-72, 7,015-yard Palm Valley Golf Course in Goodyear, Ariz., starting with 18 holes Thursday morning.

“We didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked the last round,” Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel said as his team eventually dropped from contender to a sixth-place finish, “but part of the project is getting there, and once you get there, it’s a little easier the next time. Hopefully we can continue to put ourselves in position, but if we’re going to do that we need all five guys playing well, we can’t have just three.”

Alex Gutesha (third) and Gilbert (fifth) both finished in the tournament’s top-five and Stan Gautier tied for 17th to lead the Jayhawks in Louisiana, and all three will return to the KU scoring lineup for the three-day, 54-hole event. Dylan McClure, who has contributed 14 of his 18 rounds played this season to the team score, and Ryley Haas will look to fill in the four and five positions for Kansas while Bryce Brown will compete as an individual.

“We got to spend a little more time on the golf course this week with school being out and we’ve been fine tuning some things,” Bermel said. “The grass is green down here, the weather’s going to be perfect – we’ll get in a lot of work and get in a lot of preparation. Each day we’ll get a little sharper I hope.”

Kansas will again get to test its mettle against a varied cast with some familiar regional foes in Kansas State, Nebraska, Wichita State and Tulsa. The tournament is hosted by Denver and will welcome two more Colorado schools with Air Force and Colorado State, Bermel’s former team, in attendance. Illinois, who won the Louisiana Classics and was paired with KU in the final round, will also participate and remains ranked in the Golfweek Top-25 at No. 20.

Gilbert carded a 5-under 211 at last year’s event, including back-to-back rounds of 70 to close the 2012 Desert Shootout in ninth place a year ago. Kansas shot an 860 (-4) as a team last year while placing eighth.

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