Kansas Heads East Looking for Complete Performance
April 4, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Louisiana Classics was too long, and the Desert Shootout too short. Kansas men’s golf hopes things will be just right at the Irish Creek Collegiate as the team tees off Saturday morning in Kannapolis, N.C.
Don’t call him Goldilocks, but Kansas men’s golf coach Jamie Bermel and his Jayhawk team is on the hunt for their first complete tournament of the spring on the 7,099-yard, par-71 Club at Irish Creek. Kansas has relied on Chris Gilbert, Alex Gutesha and Stan Gautier for the majority of its low-scoring rounds in recent weeks and has shot with the best of the field for consecutive rounds in each of the last two tournaments, only to see a single round tarnish the end result.
The Jayhawks have yet to crack a tournament’s top-five in spring play after accomplishing the feat twice in the fall, but have flirted with the top of the leaderboard in each of the last two events. Kansas played in the last group a month ago at the Louisiana Classics only to fall from second to sixth in the final round. The Jayhawks then stumbled at the start of the Desert Shootout two weeks ago before being the tournament’s biggest mover on day two and climbing into a four-way tie for eighth.
“When you get movement like that, four or five guys played well,” Bermel said. “We can get three really good scores, but we’ve been struggling with the fourth or fifth score. We don’t need to play great and that’s what the kids have a hard time understanding. They think they need to shoot 65 when 68 or 70 will help. We just can’t count 78s or 77s and that’s where we’ve struggled.”
Saturday’s round is the first of six rounds over two events left for Kansas to find a solid fourth and fifth contributor before ending the regular season at the Big 12 Championship (April 22-24) in Hutchinson, Kan. Juniors Bryce Brown and Ryley Haas are next in the rotation after their performances two weeks ago at the Desert Shootout. Brown turned in a career-best 69 in the first round and finished third among Jayhawks despite competing as an individual and Haas contributed to the team score in two of the three rounds.
Kansas is one of 17 schools in the Irish Creek field, including North Carolina and North Carolina State which are both ranked among Golfweek’s top-50 schools. Outside of those squads, the Jayhawks appear to stack up pretty evenly against the rest of the field – Akron, Appalachian State, East Carolina, Charlotte, Davidson, Kennesaw State, Louisville, Marshall, Mercer, Notre Dame, Richmond, UNC Wilmington, VCU and Xavier. It’s a series of match-ups Bermel is looking forward to watching play out.
“Most importantly for our guys, when you get a tournament with a lot of teams grouped together ranking-wise, it’s going to teach these guys the value of a stroke,” Bermel said. “You may move five spots on one stroke. I’m excited to see how they’re going to respond to that – if we can save a stroke here or stroke there and see what we can do on the leaderboard.”
Seniors Gilbert and Gutesha each tied for 35th at last year’s Irish Creek Collegiate after shooting 5-over 218 for the tournament. Kansas finished eighth at last year’s event after carding a 291-286-293–870 (+18).
This year’s tournament opens with an 8:30 shotgun start Saturday morning, the first of two rounds that day, before closing with the final 18 holes Sunday morning.
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