Men’s golf rebounds to claim top-five finish in fall finale

Will Hopkins hits the ball during the first round of the Big 12 Golf Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club on April 26, 2021. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State men’s golf placed fifth at the Steelwood Collegiate Invitational on Halloween behind monstrous performances from senior Will Hopkins and junior Tim Tillmanns, both finishing in the top 10.

“I’m proud of the guys for grinding through it this weekend,” head coach Grant Robbins said to K-State Athletics. “Tim and Will both had great tournaments and were very consistent all week.”

The Wildcats shot 290 in round 1, 280 in round two and 1-under par 287 in the third and final round to score a 7-under par 857 and secure a fifth-place finish.

Hopkins was the two-seed for the Wildcats and finished tied for fifth place after a strong final round, shooting a 2-under par 70. The scoring was one stroke over his best performance from round two, shooting a 69. The performance earned the senior from Lincolnshire, England, his first top-five placing of the season and the third of his career.

Tillmanns was the second Wildcat to place in the top 10, earning the fifth top-10 finish of his career after tying for eighth place at a 4-under par 212. His final-round 2-under par 70 equaled Hopkins’, and was a key factor in his seven-spot rise on the leaderboards. The top-10 finish was his second of the season.

Kansas native and freshman Nicklaus Mason recorded the best 54-hole score of his career after an even-par 72 third round. The round allowed him to maintain a tie for 22nd place.

“I thought Nick was very solid as well,” Robbins said on Sunday after the tournament. “The difference today was we just weren’t able to get a fourth score like we did yesterday afternoon.”

Sophomore Luke O’Neill finished at fourth best for the Wildcats with a tie at 40th place. After dropping seven spots on Saturday, he managed to card a 4-over par 220. Cooper Schultz — placing fifth-best for K-State — shot a 4-under par 76 in his final round to tie for 71st.

Redshirt sophomore Ethan Miller tied for 47th place as an individual after a 6-over par 222 performance.

Former Big 12 rival Missouri claimed first place at Steelwood with a 7-under par 847. In second place was SEC opponent Kentucky with an 849 shot total, Memphis in third, Mississippi State in fourth place and K-State in fifth.

K-State took this as a positive outlook and holds excitement for the spring slate.

“As we look back at the fall, I think there’s a lot to be optimistic going forward,” Robbins said. “As a team, we are making a ton of birdies, which shows the potential that we have. Overall, we have to get better around the greens, and we need to develop some more depth within our team.”

The team will resume play in the first of six events on Feb. 14-15 in Mobile, Alabama, at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate, where the University of South Alabama will host again.