Gilbert Finishes Ninth Among Nation's Best at Western Intercollegiate
April 15, 2012
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Chris Gilbert opened his final round with 12-straight pars en route to a 72 (+2) to tie for ninth place with a three-round score of 212 (+2), but Kansas men’s golf struggled on the final day with a 391 (+41) to fall to 12th place at the Western Intercollegiate Sunday.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Chris,” said Kansas head coach Kit Grove. “This field was so stacked. For 54 holes, to shoot 2-over par on that golf course is flat-out golfing your ball. From a ball-striking standpoint, he is super competitive at the national level. The putter has been his Achilles’ heel a little bit, but he’s starting to putt better. Tee to green, he is playing rock solid. He doesn’t make too many mental mistakes. Hopefully he’s making a big enough run where NCAA Regionals aren’t out of the question for him as an individual now. He’s playing very competitive rounds with some of the best players in the country.”
Gilbert finished three shots better than Golfstat’s No. 1 golfer in the nation, Dylan Frittelli of Texas, who shot a 75 (+5) on the final day for a 54-hole total of 215 (+5). Gilbert led the field, which also included the No. 2 and No. 3 golfers in the country, with a cumulative 1-under on the par-3s and also recorded a tournament-high 43 pars for the event. For Gilbert, the finish marked his third top 10 in the last four events after claiming ninth at the Desert Shootout and fifth at the Cowboy Classic.
“This one definitely feels a little more special because this was the toughest competition I’m going to face all year and the hardest course I’m going to play all year,” said Gilbert, a junior from Simi Valley, Calif. “I tried to prepare the same way and not think about who I was competing against. I just really focused on being ready to play this course. For me, it was about being decisive on my approach shots because the greens are so tough out there that you have to really know where you want your target to be and where you want to miss if you don’t hit it perfect. It’s really key to leave yourself in a place to get bogey at worst. A lot of people made a lot of big numbers out there. I only had one double bogey all weekend, which I still wasn’t happy about, but limiting the damage was key.”
After an impressive first day in which KU finished seventh, one spot ahead of No. 15/10 San Diego State, after 36 holes with a 747 (+47), the Jayhawks stumbled out of the gate in the final round and never recovered, dropping five spots in the team standings. Most of the Kansas golfers began their final round near the seventh hole with the shotgun start in the morning.
“We got off to a horrible start on Nos. 7, 8 and 9,” said Grove. “No. 8 is a pretty good par-3, and a couple of our guys hit it where you absolutely can’t hit it – over the green. We made two triple bogeys and a double bogey on our first two holes. That was such a momentum killer, especially with where we were in the tournament. We were right there where we could have done something with a really good round. Yesterday, we were very competitive and fought hard, but today we didn’t accept the fact that you are going to make bogeys on this course, and we got caught up in trying to hit the miracle shots. We made triple and double bogeys today that were so unforced.”
Senior Doug Quinones had the second-best tournament for Kansas with a 226 (+16) to tie for 48th. Quinones led the Jayhawks with three birdies in the closing round, but he also posted two double bogeys and two triple bogeys over his final 18 holes to card a 9-over 79. Freshman Dylan McClure shot a 6-over 76 for the second-best round for KU on the last day.
“Doug did a lot of good things today, but a couple times he got out of position and tried to hit the hero shot,” said Grove. “You can’t compound one mistake with another, especially on this golf course. It just exposes any weakness. If you try to get cute, you’re going to make a six or a seven in a hurry, and we happened to all do that today.”
The Western Intercollegiate marked the final event of the regular season. KU will now turn its attention to postseason play with the Big 12 Championship two weeks away.
“This tournament was a great preparation,” said Grove. “What a great field, what an incredibly difficult golf course, what a thinking golf course that will expose your weaknesses. Today, we got beat up, so mentally we’re going to have to put today behind us. It’s disappointing to finish where we did, but overall we had a pretty positive week.”
The Big 12 Championship will be held April 27-29 at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas.