Kansas Begins Second-Half of the Season at Desert Intercollegiate
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In an effort to continue one its best seasons in recent program history, the Kansas men’s golf team will travel to Palm Desert, California and compete in the Desert Intercollegiate Feb. 19-21. The three-day event will take place at the Classic Club, where the 15-team field will compete on the par-72, 7,322-yard course.
KU looks to build upon its hot start to the 2015-16 campaign, after completing the fall season with five top-five finishes, two team titles and an individual title for senior Ben Welle. Balanced between veteran experience and young talent, the Jayhawks stand amongst the nation’s best teams as they currently rank in the top-50.
“We had a solid fall season,” Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel said. “It was pretty good at times and we certainly have something to play for. The guys know that and I think they’re excited.”
The No. 48-ranked Jayhawks are vying for their first postseason berth since the 2007 squad accomplished this feat under then coach Ross Randall. The success that KU had in the fall has given Bermel even more hope for an already promising spring season.
“I’m excited to get it started, and the guys have been working hard,” Bermel said. “I think they’re ready to play against some other people, so we’ll see some other teams and see what we can do.”
The trip to California will mark the sixth time this season that the Jayhawks have played in an event they have competed in during previous years, which has allowed this particular group to gain valuable experience on the course. Representing the Jayhawks at the Desert Intercollegiate is the same core that helped Kansas claim its second title of the year at the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational Oct. 23-25, 2015 in El Paso, Texas.
Welle, earned himself his first individual tournament title while at Kansas when he won the Ram Masters Invitational Sept. 21-22, 2015. His 70.33 strokes per round not only leads the Jayhawks, but also ranks No. 19 nationally for that respective category.
As Welle’s senior counterpart, Connor Peck has also been a solid piece for KU. His consistency on the course ranks tied for second on the team with seven rounds of even or under par. Making his third appearance at the Desert Intercollegiate is junior Chase Hanna, who will look to bounce back from last year’s performance where he shot a 230 (+14).
“Technically we have three guys that have played three years,” Bermel said of his upperclassmen’s experience. “I think that gives us a little bit of an advantage over some teams because if we go to a tournament, those guys have literally seen the golf course 12 times. That’s a huge benefit, I think.”
Rounding off the five guys who will be competing for Kansas is sophomore Daniel Hudson and freshman Charlie Hillier. Hudson ended the fall on a strong note, averaging 71.33 strokes per round in his final three rounds, while Hiller has made an appearance in every event of the 2015-16 season thus far.
Participating as an individual is redshirt sophomore Brock Drogosch, where he will be competing in his second event of the year. This weekend will also mark the Kansas coaching debut of associate head coach Chris Wilson, who joined the Kansas coaching staff in January.
The 15-year coach spent the past five seasons at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he helped improve the program by setting new school records. In 2014, he was a semifinalist to the Jan Strickland Award, which acknowledges assistant coaches for the work they do with student-athletes on and off the course.
“So far, I’ve been impressed,” Bermel said of Wilson. “I think he brings a sort of calming to some of these guys because they understand how experienced he is. He has a good feel for the game and I think the guys are understanding him better as the weeks go on. He’s doing a nice job.”
Hosted by Wyoming, the 15-team field joining Kansas this weekend is Nebraska, CSU-Northridge, UT Arlington, Texas Tech, Denver, TCU, Southern Utah, Cal Poly, Idaho, Old Dominion, Southern Illinois, Oral Roberts and South Dakota State.
Tee off is scheduled for Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. CT. For live stats and scoring, be sure to follow the event on golfstat.com.
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