Before the K-State men’s golf team took to the course at the Fresno State Lexus Classic, head coach Tim Norris said the team’s main goal was to show consistent improvement from one match to the next. Following the competition, it seems as though the Wildcats have lived up to their coach’s expectations.
K-State finished in a tie for 10th place at the two-day event, which took place at the Sunnyside Country Club in Fresno, Calif. In team scoring, Wildcats finished even with Big Ten Conference opponent Michigan – ranked No. 35 in the country – at a 55-over par 1,135. They ended the tournament 52 strokes behind tournament champion and seventh-ranked San Diego State.
The top-10 finish marks an improvement from K-State’s last competition, when it finished 13th at the UTSA Oak Hills Invitational on Feb. 15.
“I thought, overall, it wasn’t a poor showing,” Norris said. “We have expectations to do better, but we saw some good stuff. The weather was great and the competition was good.”
Individually, the Wildcats were led by freshman Jack Watson, who shot a seven-over par 223. That was good for a 27th-place finish, as he ended the meet tied with Fresno State’s Brian Sunker and Michigan’s Matt Thompson. K-State’s next highest finisher was sophomore Curtis Yonke, who tied for 41st with a 10-over par 226.
“This is Curtis Yonke’s first tournament of the spring, and I thought he played awful well,” Norris said. “Our top scorer, Jack Watson, he’s just a freshman. I thought those two guys did pretty well. I thought the rest of them were pretty close, really. I think we’re better than we were a couple weeks ago, and the goal is to be better in a couple weeks when we go down to Laredo at the end of the month.”
Other Wildcats who participated in the competition included freshman Thomas Birdsey, who tied for 44th with an 11-over par 227, sophomore Ben Juffer, who finished 62nd with a 15-over par 232 and senior Ross Guebelle, who shot a 20-over par 237.
Freshman David Klaudt also participated in the event, but he finished sixth on the team, so his individual score did not figure into the final results.
Norris said the par-72 course, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, allowed players to get an accurate gauge of their individual performance. The 14-year head coach played on the course during his collegiate career at Texas-El Paso and said it’s classic feel makes it one of the unique courses in the country.
“There are no tricks. It’s right out in front of you,” he said. “There’s not a single water hazard on this golf course. There’s no blind shots, no huge elevation changes. It’s just an old style, traditional course.”
While he admitted that youth has been the theme of the Wildcats’ roster this season, the Wildcats’ head coach said he expect the team to continue its consistent improvement as underclassmen gain experience throughout the year.
“The ball doesn’t know how old you are. It’s not an excuse,” he said. “These young guys have got to get better because this game is so tough. It takes a tremendous amount of work, but I think the experience these younger guys get is invaluable. I’ve seen it over the years. If they can keep improving and keep working on their games, I hope it will pick up a little here in a couple years.”
K-State will return to action on March 25, when it heads south to compete in the Border Olympics in Laredo, Texas.
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