K-State Men’s Golf falls short of first NCAA Championship, O’Neill advances as individual

Luke O'Neill swings 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)

Update: Senior Tim Tillmanns did not play in the final round on Wednesday because of an injury, according to K-State Athletics. The article has been updated with this information.

Fifth-seeded Kansas State men’s golf made a final push at the 2023 NCAA Bath Regional but failed to advance to the first NCAA Championship in K-State history. Junior Luke O’Neill tied for second on the individual leaderboard at 7-under par, earning himself a trip to the NCAA Championship.

This season marked K-State’s second straight appearance in the NCAA Regionals. Advancement to the NCAA Championship consists of placing as one of the top five teams or scoring as the lowest individual not on an advancing team in each regional, allowing O’Neill to advance.

O’Neill becomes the fourth Wildcat to represent the program at the NCAA Championship. He led K-State to finish 7-under and in sixth place of the 13-team field. 

Remaining members of the scoring lineup were seniors Will Hopkins and Tim Tillmanns, along with sophomores Cooper Schultz and Nicklaus Mason. Sophomore Laurenz Schiergen served as the alternate and replaced Tillmanns during the final round because of an injury.

The Wildcats opened 3-under in eighth place after Monday’s first round, standing just two strokes out of the fifth-place cut line. 

Tuesday’s second round saw K-State scoring 1-under, which moved its spot on the leaderboard to sixth place. However, host-school Michigan State sat in fifth place at 11-under par, seven shots ahead of the Wildcats.

K-State needed a strong final round to earn a top-five placement and move on to the NCAA Championship.

The Wildcats tied its best round of 3-under, but it wasn’t enough. Michigan State fell to seventh place, with a 10-over final round, but Florida rose to fourth place with a 6-under performance.

Hopkins aided the Wildcats on Wednesday with his best round at Bath, scoring 2-under with a tournament total of even in 25th place. O’Neill joined him, recording a 2-under final round. The sophomore duo of Mason and Schultz finished in a tie for 43rd place at 5-over. Tillmanns was in a tie for 21st at 2-under before being substituted for Schiergen who shot 1-over Wednesday.

Stats and final scores for the other competing teams can be found at golfstat.com. The 2023 NCAA Championship will take place May 26-31 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The 2022-23 season was a remarkable season for K-State men’s golf. Coming into Bath, the Wildcats averaged a school-record stroke average of 281.45, pummeling the previous record of 285.86. 

K-State earned seven top-five finishes in tournaments this season, which ties for second in school history as does its four tournament wins. In addition, The Wildcats set eight of the top 20 team rounds in school history and five of the top 15 54-hole scores. 

Next season, K-State will look to make three consecutive NCAA Regional appearances for the first time since 2006-2009.