K-State men’s golf finishes fall schedule on a high note

Sophomore Seth Smith takes a putt on the fourteenth hole of Colbert Hills golf course during practice Sep 12. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

In head coach Grant Robbins’ first fall at K-State, his team showed steady improvement and hope. They also found individual success in the first half of the year.

“Overall, fall was a really good chance for us to see our guys in competition, being the new coach here,” Robbins said. “We don’t have much depth this year so we kind of struggled to get four scores on the board, but you definitely see the potential of this team.”

The highlight of the fall season for the Wildcats was on Sept. 29 when sophomore Matt Green won the Jack Nicklaus Invitational.

Green opened the tournament with a 67 and never lost the lead. He held on with a 73 and 70 in the final two rounds. It was the first individual victory for K-State since 2012.

“It just shows what he’s capable of,” Robbins said. “He hasn’t won before, so seeing him be able to come through that final round and play such a solid round and get that win the way that he did just shows what he’s capable of. He’s very, very talented and things like that just give him confidence.”

K-State had even more success this season as individuals. At the Firestone Invitational, sophomore Seth Smith finished tied for third. His 1-under par in the tournament was the best score he posted all season.

In the Wildcats’ final tournament of the fall, sophomore Connor Knabe tied for fourth place.

The problem for the Wildcats was getting four good scores on the same day. While they proved they could all move around the course efficiently, they only did it one time as a team.

“Obviously you want to have a better result when you have guys play so well,” Robbins said. “Kind of knew going into it was going to be a rebuilding year. We got a really, really young team. Everybody that’s playing are freshmen and sophomores. They’re getting really good experience. Obviously we want to continue to play better, but our focus is on the process.”

K-state’s finishes were steady throughout the first part of the season. They placed eighth twice and ninth once through their first three tournaments. In the last tournament of the fall, the tides changed for them.

The Wildcats saw themselves tie for second in the rain shortened event in Overland Park, Kansas. They placed three in the top 20 and had their highest team placement of the season.

One of the surprises of autumn was Coach Robbins decision to redshirt senior Kyle Weldon. Last season, he had the team’s best stroke average at 73.64.

“He’s going to focus on his academics and will be playing for us next year,” Robbins said. “We’re trying to save him for next season. We’ll have a little more depth around him and have a recruiting class that will come in and be able to compete with him. Kyle is definitely our best player.”

K-State’s spring season will begin Feb. 22 they travel to Palm Desert, California for the Desert Intercollegiate. The spring slate features seven tournaments all around the country, from Oregon to North Carolina.

“Our focus is not on results right now, we’re just trying to improve,” Robbins said. “Everybody just needs to get better individually. If everybody gets better individually in the offseason, then collectively as a group we’ll do better. It’s just going to be up to them to make a commitment to do the things they need to do.”