Men’s golf struggles with tough competition in South Carolina

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(Archive Photo by John Benfer | Royal Purple)

Even with the improved play from senior Jacob Eklund on the final day of competition at the General Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the men’s golf team had trouble climbing the leaderboard against a tough field on Monday and Tuesday.

Squaring off with a 15-team field that included 10 teams ranked in Golfstat’s Top 60, the Wildcats finished tied for 13th place with East Carolina, shooting 31-over-par, 895, as a team on the par-72, 7,233-yard Dunes Golf and Beach Club.

“The golf course was extremely difficult, it’s not something that we’re completely used to playing – that’s no excuse, we’ve got to play a lot better,” head coach Grant Robbins said to K-State Sports. “Obviously, the field is strong. This is a course that if you’re not sharp on every aspect of your game you’re going to pay for it, and that’s what happened.”

After shooting a 74 in the first round and a 76 in the second round for a first day total of 150, Eklund turned everything around by shooting a 71 on the final day, hitting three birdies on the final 18 holes. Eklund helped Kansas State jump into the tie for 13th place after sitting in 14th going into the final day.

Eklund finished with a five-over-par, at 221, tying for 36th overall. He was just one stroke ahead of sophomore teammate Will Hopkins, who finished six-over-par, at 222 and tied for 44th overall.

Hopkins led the way for the Wildcats after the first day, shooting just one-over-par in the first and second rounds, giving him a 146 overall — four strokes ahead of Eklund.

Hopkins struggled on the final day though, shooting four-over-par 76, tallying five bogies and one double bogie on the final 18 holes. His slip-ups paved the way for Eklund to move ahead in the individual standings.

Senior Ben Fernandez also played a role in getting the Wildcats into the tie with East Carolina. After shooting 12-over-par 84 in the first round, Fernandez stormed back with a second-round one-under-par 71, tying with Eklund for the team-best over the tournament.

Fernandez then finished his performance with a two-over-par 73, on the final day, giving him a 12-over-par 228 overall and placing him in a tie for 67th.

Tying for 69th overall was freshman Tim Tillmans, shooting a six-over-par 78, in the first round and a five-over-par 77 in the second round. He hit his stride on the final day, shooting two-over-par 74 in the third round, finishing 13-over with a 229 overall.

Junior Kyle Vance shot 23-over-par 239. Overall Vance shot seven-over-par 79 in the first and second rounds on Monday. He finished with a nine-over-par 81 on Tuesday, tying at 82nd.

The Wildcats will have a quick turn around this weekend, traveling to Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, to compete in the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular at the El Campeon Golf Course. Competing in the Spring Spectacular last year, the Wildcats took both team and individual titles and will look to do the same this Saturday and Sunday.

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