Jayhawks Take Hot Start to the Desert

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – In an effort to repeat as the tournament champions from a year ago, the Kansas men’s golf team will travel to Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the Desert Shootout, March 18-19. At the event last year, the Jayhawks came out victorious and won the event at Palm Valley Golf Club by an eight-stroke margin and a score of 829.

This will mark the fourth time in as many years that Kansas has competed on the par-72, 7,015-yard course, where the Jayhawks have improved their finish in each year. On top of looking to repeat as champions, KU is also seeking its fourth tournament title of the 2015-16 campaign, which would be the first time such an accomplishment has been achieved in program history. 

“We have had a good week of preparation and will get a few extra days in Phoenix due to spring break,” Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel said. “Five of the six guys have played the course in the past, so we are somewhat familiar with the course and the event and are looking forward to another good week.”
Leading the way for Kansas is senior Ben Welle who won his second event of the season at the Louisiana Classics Invitational. The 71.00 strokes he averages per round is a team-best, which was also good enough to lead the Jayhawks in scoring at five different events. In the Desert Shootout the past two years, Welle has improved his score both times he has participated in this event, where he has finished in the top-25 each time.
As Welle’s fellow classmate, senior Connor Peck has also had plenty of experience at the Desert Intercollegiate, averaging 70.33 strokes per round at the event. Last season, Peck recorded a 208 (-8) at Palm Valley Golf Club, which turned out to be his lowest score of the year, finishing the tournament in sole possession of ninth-place.
This will be the third time junior Chase Hanna has participated at this event, where he earned himself a top-20 placing last year, finishing the tournament tied for 18th. Hanna is also coming off one of his best performances of the season at the Louisiana Classics Invitational, recording a 216 (E) and placing tied for 11th.
Sophomore Daniel Hudson has also found success at the Desert Shootout, placing tied for 18th with Hanna and recording a three-round total of 211 (-5) at last year’s tournament. Hudson, who has been one of KU’s most steady golfers all season, leads the team with a total of seven rounds at even par.
Making his ninth appearance in his rookie campaign is freshman Charlie Hillier. The New Zealand native is known for his strong starts to tournaments as he averages 70.13 strokes per opening round, which also includes three rounds in the 60’s.
Rounding of the squad representing the Jayhawks is sophomore Brock Drogosch, who will be competing in this event as an individual.  When he participated in this event last season, Drogosch finished tied for second and carded a 206 (-10), which is still the best outing of his career.
The 20-team field that will be accompanying Kansas is his host-Denver, Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, Columbia, Eastern Michigan, George Washington, Grand Canyon, Idaho, Big-12 foes Iowa State and Kansas State, Northern Colorado, Nebraska, NIU, Southern Utah, Tulsa, UMKC, UNO and Wichita State.
Tee-off for the two-day event is scheduled to begin on March 18 at 9:30 am CT. For live stats and up-to-date scores, be sure to follow the tournament on birdiefire.com.
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