Kansas Men's Golf Heads to Charlotte for Irish Creek Collegiate

March 29, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s golf will return to action this weekend when it competes in the Irish Creek Collegiate Saturday and Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

Junior Chris Gilbert looks to lead the way after earning his fourth career top-10 finish with a 54-hole total of 211 (-5) in the Desert Shootout last weekend in Goodyear, Ariz. Also looking to build on a strong performance at the Desert Shootout is freshman David Auer, who played himself into the five-man lineup for this week’s event after posting the team’s second-best score, 215 (-1), competing as an individual in Arizona.

“David earned himself a spot in the lineup this week,” said Kansas head coach Kit Grove. “Paul Harris and Doug Quinones played off in a one-day shootout when we returned, and Doug was victorious on the 19th hole, so Paul is out of the lineup this week. We’ll see what happens. Chris played much more like he’s capable of playing last week. Alex (Gutesha) has struggled this semester. It’s not like he played poorly last week, but he’s just not playing at the level he’d like to be playing at. Hopefully last week, with everybody shooting more competitive scores, we can keep that going in Charlotte.”

With the calendar turning over to April while the team is in Charlotte, Grove said the team’s focus is centered on the Big 12 Championship, which will take place April 27-29 in Trinity, Texas.

“Each week we’re just trying to get better for the Big 12 Championship,” said Grove. “That’s our goal this year. We have a strong golf conference. We have six teams in the top 30, and Texas is hands down the best team in the country. Oklahoma State is having a down year, and they’re still top 20. Obviously, in a perfect world, I like it a lot better when we’re at Prairie Dunes (Hutchinson, Kan.) on cold-weather grasses. The guys always struggle a little bit with reading the grain on Bermuda grass, but we’re going to play on enough Bermuda this spring that hopefully our learning curve is being accelerated a little faster than it has in the past.”

Kansas will also need to show an accelerated learning curve in Charlotte. Unlike the team’s previous two events where multiple KU golfers had competed at least once prior to this year, none of the five Jayhawk participants have played in the Irish Creek Collegiate.

“You learn as much as you can in the practice round Friday,” said Grove. “(Assistant) coach Brian McCants and I will be out there plotting the pins, which we do every week and go over that in the team meeting. We’ll let everybody know where the best misses are and how to play each hole. We’ll go over how we see the golf course and how it needs to be played from a strategy standpoint. I’ve heard good things about this golf course.”

Aside from the practice round, the Jayhawks will be able to let loose a little on Friday and enjoy some of the nearby sights before the tournament officially begins Saturday.

“One of the cool things is the kids get to go to the NASCAR track Friday,” said Grove. “We’ll actually drive the van around the track. It’s optional, but we’re going to do it. How often do you have a chance to drive a 15-passenger van on a 20-degree banked surface?”

The Irish Creek Collegiate will consist of 36 holes Saturday before concluding on Sunday with the final round.