RCW: Sport Spotlight 4.34 (Men's Golf)
— Kansas Men’s Golf (@KUMensGolf) May 27, 2018
A post shared by Kansas Men’s Golf (@kumensgolf) on May 27, 2018 at 4:55pm PDT
The Kansas men’s golf team recently completed its first trip to the NCAA Championships since 2000. The Jayhawks posted a 23rd-place effort after claiming their first-ever Regional title just a few weeks prior. It was a good season for the KU golf program, but with the losses of senior Daniel Hudson and Daniel Sutton, what does the future hold?
With 10 event victories, 41 top-5 finishes and three-straight NCAA Regional appearances over the last six seasons, Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel has righted the ship of the Jayhawk men’s golf program and the trajectory is still climbing. Entering the NCAA Championships, the Jayhawks were ranked No. 37, which is an improvement of over 115 places in the national rankings since Bermel has left his fingerprints on the program.
The Jayhawks will return their two top scoring average leaders in Andy Spencer and Charlie Hillier. Spencer will be a junior and flirted with individual wins throughout the 2017-18 season. With four top-5 efforts this season and 10 top-20 performances, Spencer shot twice as many rounds in the 60s as a sophomore (10) than he did as a freshman (5).
Hillier and Jake Scarrow will be the two seniors for next year. Hillier never cracked the top-5 this season, but he was second on the squad with 21 rounds of par or better golf. Scarrow played No. 5 in the lineup throughout the fall, but was limited to individual competitions in the spring.
This season’s freshmen, Harry Hillier and Ben Sigel, will also be expected to contribute more moving forward. Sigel played as an individual early for the Jayhawks in the fall, while Harry Hillier, the younger brother of Charlie, cracked the lineup in the spring and never looked back.
Harry Hillier paced the Jayhawks in the final round of the NCAA Championship with a 1-under 71. He scattered seven birdies over the difficult Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma, en route to his seventh round of the season at par or below. The big hitter from New Zealand showed the possibilities surrounding his game.
“He has absolutely no idea (how good he can be),” Bermel said about the younger Hillier. “We can tell him every time (how good he can be), but he needs to figure that out. I have watched 27 years of college golf and I’m telling you he has about as high of ceiling as I have ever been around.
“Now, whether he gets that or not, that is up to him. He going to have to work harder. His wedges are going to have to get better. The ceiling is limitless. He has the chance to be a good one, or pretty average.”
Keep in mind, Bermel coached Zach Johnson at Drake prior to the latter becoming a 12-time PGA Tour winner, and Martin Laird at Colorado State, a three-time winner on the tour.
Based off the end of the season, it appears Spencer and the two Hilliers will be in the lineup for the fall. That leaves Scarrow, Sigel and redshirt freshman Drew Shepherd vying for the remaining two spots from a returnee standpoint.
But there will be five new Jayhawk freshmen in the mix as well. Joining the returnees will be Shaun Campbell, a big hitter from Tauranga, New Zealand; Caden Weber, a native of Peoria, Arizona with a lot of club-head speed; Grant Herrenbruck, a dual-sport athlete from Salina, Kansas; Zach Sokolosky, another dual-sport athlete from Wichita, Kansas; and Christian Ghilardi, who spent his high school years also as a two-sport athlete at Shawnee Mission Northwest.
With the constant balance of seasoned talent with youthful skill, it appears that the 2018 NCAA Championship might just be the beginning of a high-powered, successful golf program at Kansas.