Cats Look Forward to Big 12 Championship

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State men’s golf team will compete at the 2016 Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship, Friday through Sunday, at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas. The course will host this event for the sixth time in the championship’s 20-year history, with the top seeds set to begin Friday at 8:00 a.m.


The conference championship is unique in the fact that it is a 72-hole event as opposed to 54 holes. Conducted over three days, the teams will play 36 holes on Friday followed by 18 holes each of the final two days. Saturday and Sunday’s rounds are set to tee off at 8 a.m., as well.


The Wildcats earned the tournament’s eight seed based on Golfweek/Sagarin team rankings where they rank 74th nationally. K-State will be paired with seventh-seed TCU on Friday with the teams hitting off the 10th tee at 9:07 a.m. CT.


K-State enters this year’s competition having placed ninth in the previous two Big 12 Championship. The 2014 Big 12 Championship was played at Whispering Pines, where K-State finished 79-over par 1,231 after 72 holes of play. Last spring, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Wildcats were 89-over par through three days. This weekend, the team hopes to get ahead, early.


“We are excited for the Big 12 Championship this year. Obviously, it's the strongest overall field we have seen this year and the golf course presents a tremendous challenge,” said head coach Grant Robbins. “I like where our guys are at right now. They have prepared well, so now it's just a matter of getting a good game plan together, staying committed to that plan and playing with some confidence.”


K-State’s lineup, coming off of a fifth place finish at the Hawkeye Intercollegiate on April 16-17, will feature Matt Green, Jeremy Gandon, Kyle Weldon, Andrew Beckler and Jack Rickabaugh for the second consecutive outing this spring.


Green narrowly holds the Wildcats’ top stroke average this year of 73.00, but enters Big 12 Championship play having most recently experienced his worst performance of the season, when he tied for 34th at the Hawkeye Intercollegiate. Green’s 6-over par 222 marked his first finish outside the top-20 in an event this spring. He will look to better his tie for 20th place from his trip to the 2015 edition of the league championship.


Senior Kyle Weldon is the lone K-State golfer to have played at Whispering Pines during his career. Weldon placed 42nd in this event in 2014 with a 72-hole score of 26-over par 314. This year for the Wildcats, Weldon holds the team lead in rounds at even or under par with 15 and surges into Big 12 Championship play after tying for fifth at the Hawkeye Intercollegiate at 4-under par 212.


Gandon and Beckler, both freshmen, will compete in their first Big 12 Championship as Wildcats. As the No. 2 golfer in K-State’s lineup, Gandon comes into the tournament with the team’s second-best stroke average at 73.05. He finished the Hawkeye Intercollegiate just outside of the top-20 as his 2-over par 218 tied him for 21st place. Beckler has held down the No. 4 position in the Wildcat lineup throughout the spring season. The Topeka, Kansas, native has placed in the top-30 of the last two team events, including a tie for 30th at the Hawkeye Intercollegiate with a 5-over par 221.


Junior Jack Rickabaugh occupies the fifth spot for the fourth occasion this spring after his 6-over par 222 tied him for 34th at the Hawkeye Intercollegiate – his best performance since tying for 12th with a 2-over 214 at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate on Feb. 22-23.


The nation’s top-ranked team, Texas, will serve as the host of this year’s tournament on Whispering Pines’ par-72, 7,473-yard course. The Longhorns are three-time defending Big 12 Champions, winning at Whispering Pines in 2014 with a scorecard of 6-over par 1,158. Aside from Texas, other top-25 ranked teams include Oklahoma State (6) and Oklahoma (20). The 2016 tournament field will expand to 10 teams for the first time with the addition of West Virginia, which playing in its first Big 12 Championship. 


Live scoring from the 2016 Big 12 Championship can be found at www.golfstat.com, while updates from Trinity, Texas will be available at www.k-statesports.com as soon as they are made available following each day of competition.