Jayhawk Insider: Harry Hillier wins The Jackrabbit without Charlie
By Luke Smrt
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Out of a 73-golfer field The Jackrabbit, Kansas sophomore Harry Hillier dominated a cold and windy weekend at the Prairie Club – Dunes golf course in Valentine, Nebraska, earning medalist honors. Hillier finished 11-under par, collecting the first individual tournament victory of his young collegiate career. In addition, the Jayhawks claimed the team title of the event.
However, this tournament was different for Harry. For the first time in his KU career, his older brother, Charlie Hillier, a KU senior, did not compete for the Jayhawks due to his qualification for the Asian Amateur.
“It was weird, he’s the guy I go to for everything,” Harry said. “It didn’t affect the way I played in any way, but he did message me about 30 times while I was playing. I didn’t get a chance to look at them (the messages) until it was officially over.”
For the past two seasons, the Hillier brothers have been a main cog in the success of Kansas golf while Charlie has been part of KU’s achievements for the last three-plus years. Last year the Hillier brothers were two pieces of KU’s NCAA Championship run, which included the tournament title in the NCAA Pacific Regional, advancing the Jayhawks to the national finals.
“It was certainly different. Charlie has played in every event here since his freshman year,” Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel said. “Not having him in the lineup, we were missing a very solid golfer. But, most importantly, our most experienced player. He’s been around so long, he’s like a second assistant to me. It was awkward at times but to the guys’ credit, they all stepped up.”
Younger brother Harry’s best round at The Jackrabbit was on day one as he shot a 5-under 67, which marked the best round of his collegiate career.
“If there is ever a golf course that fits Harry, it’s that one,” Bermel said of the Prairie Club – Dunes. “It’s long. It’s windy and Harry is at the stage of his game where he can take advantage of his length.
“After we played the practice round Friday afternoon, he came off the course and said, ‘Coach, this golf course really fits my game.’ So he understood, had a different mindset and got off to a good start the first day and built on that and kept putting pressure on the golf course. To win is pretty exciting, but to win by four shots, that’s impressive.”
Rounds two and three were similar results for Harry, as he went on to finish a combined 6-under par, making him 11-under for the tournament, four shots ahead of runner-up Kyler Tate of Central Florida.
“My putter was really hot this week. I felt really comfortable over the ball,” Harry said. “But my driving is what really helped me shave strokes. The fairways were super wide this week, which suits a guy like me as I hit the ball quite far, which sets me up to hit par 5’s in two shots.”
On top of Harry’s first collegiate tournament victory, he collected his second top-10 finish of the year and recorded a career low 54-hole round of 205.
With Charlie back in the lineup, he, Harry and the Jayhawks look to carry their winning momentum to Hockley, Texas, for Big 12 match play beginning on October 12.
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