2008-09 Season Recap: Jayhawks Show Growth in Grove's Second Campaign
May 6, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In head coach Kit Grove’s second campaign, the Kansas men’s golf team continued to show improvement all while dealing with the inconsistency of attempting to infuse young players into the lineup.
The Jayhawks jumped out of the gate early with two top-five finishes as a team before struggling in the middle portions of the season as the competition stiffened. However, KU closed the year with a solid outing at the Big 12 Championship.
Sophomore Nate Barbee was the primary catalyst for the Jayhawks success for the majority of the season, particularly in the early going. Barbee opened the season with a tie for fourth at the rain-shortened Fairway Club Invitational and then followed that up with a sixth-place finish at the Kansas Invitational.
Barbee led the team in scoring average with a 73.12 stroke average and recorded five top-20 finishes in the process.
After finishing third in its first two events the Jayhawks struggled in their last two events of the fall, the Cardinal Intercollegiate and Baylor Intercollegiate, but Grove started freshmen Blake Giroux and Ian Anson in all four fall events and saw glimpses of a bright future ahead for both.
Both turned in very good efforts in at least one event as Giroux tied for ninth at the Cardinal Intercollegiate and Anson tied for 12th at the Kansas Invitational, but their inconsistent play led Grove to turn to his veterans more during the spring campaign.
The senior class defined the spring portion of the schedule as a senior led the Jayhawks in scoring in five of the seven events.
Senior Walt Koelbel was a steadying force for the team all season long and was the lone Jayhawk to compete in all 11 events. Koelbel recorded the best finish of his Jayhawk career when he tied for third at the Louisiana Classics leading the team to a ninth-place finish at the event.
Senior Andrew Storm complemented Koelbel’s senior leadership in nine of the 11 events and Storm recorded two top-20 finishes during his senior year and ranked third on the team in scoring average during the spring.
Yet, in the Jayhawks’ best performance during the spring campaign it was once again the younger players that stepped up to the forefront. Kansas finished in fourth place at the Desert Shootout led by Barbee’s fourth place finish and Giroux’s tie for 16th.
Junior Bryan Hackenberg emerged as a future leader of the team during the spring season when he competed in six of the seven events and ranked third in the spring in scoring average. All but one of Hackenberg’s rounds during the 2008-09 season were counted to the team score.
After struggling down the stretch, the Jayhawks turned in their most impressive tournament of the year at the Big 12 Championship.
The Jayhawks, who entered the event seeded 11th, led during portions of the first round and finished the first day tied for sixth place. The Jayhawks continued to play steady golf throughout the event led by senior Zach Pederson and finished in seventh place.
Pederson shot four rounds of 76 or better at the difficult layout Prairie Dunes Country Club presented to all participants. Pederson finished the event in 10th place and became the fourth Jayhawk in four years to be named to the All-Big 12 Tournament team.
With four departing seniors, coach Kit Grove will once again be leaning on his younger players to continue building on what the seniors left off during the spring parts of the 2008-09 season into the 2009-10 season.