Youthful Jayhawks Grow Up in Grove's First Year

May 5, 2008


Little was set in stone when the <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Kansas men’s golf team entered the 2007-08 season with five newcomers and the loss of three key seniors. Coming out of the season, it is clear that head coach Kit Grove is armed with two possible star sophomores along with a solid supporting cast of veterans going into next year.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Freshman Brad Hopfinger, hailing from Lake Forest, Ill. and Nate Barbee of Dakota Dunes, S.D. came out of nowhere during the fall season to inject some life into the team and it carried over into the spring season.

Hopfinger led the team in scoring average with an average of 73.39 and added five top-20 finishes during his freshman season. Hopfinger continued to get better throughout the season and he capped off the year in fine fashion turning in a seventh-place finish at the Big 12 Championship.

“Brad was a solid golfer for us all year long,” said head coach Kit Grove. “For a freshman to make the All-Tournament team at the Big 12 Championship tells you what kind of player Brad is.”

Barbee showed his talents nearly immediately finishing eighth at the Kansas Invitational during his second career tournament. Barbee finished second in scoring average for the Jayhawks and turned in the best individual finish of the year finishing tied-for-fifth at the Ron Moore Invitational.

Barbee and Hopfinger were routinely joined in the Jayhawks line-up with juniors Walt Koelbel and Zach Pederson.

Koelbel, who entered the season with the momentum of his ninth-place finish at the 2007 Big 12 Championship, didn’t disappoint. He competed in all 11 events on the season and finished third on the team in scoring average.

Pederson turned in a season full of ups and downs that was highlighted by his 11th place finish at the Kansas Invitational. Much of the Jayhawks upward mobility potential next season may very well hinge on Pederson’s play.

Coach Grove called upon a large number of Jayhawks to round out the lineup throughout the year and experienced mixed results. The fifth spot was highlighted by the steadiness of Andrew Storm in the Kansas Invitational and Patrick Roth in the Big 12 Championship, but consistency was the continual problem for the Jayhawks in the spot all year.

The Jayhawks showed a glimpse of what they may become next year in the Big 12 Championship finishing in sixth place and defeating all of their North division peers.

“The Big 12 Championship should give us a lot of momentum heading into next season,” said Grove.

The Year’s Best

Top 5 Team Finishes

T-2nd- Kansas Invitational

6th- Big 12 Championship

8th- River Landing Intercollegiate

T-8th- Landfall Tradition

10th- Cajun Classic

Top 5 Individual Finishes

T5th- Nate Barbee @ Ron Moore Invitational

T7th- Brad Hopfinger @ Big 12 Championship

T8th- Nate Barbee @ Kansas Invitational

T11th- Walt Koelbel @ Kansas Invitational

T11th- Zach Pederson @ Kansas Invitational

Top 5 Individual Rounds

66- Brad Hopfinger @ Hawaii-Hilo Invitational

67- Nate Barbee @ Hawaii-Hilo Invitational

68- Nate Barbee @ Ron Moore Invitational

68- Brad Hopfinger @ Big 12 Championship

68- Brad Hopfinger @ Ron Moore Invitational