Men's Golf Faces Tough Competition at Big 12 Championship

No easy task ahead for the Cats, this year's conference championship features five of the nation's Top 25 golf programs with No. 2 Texas leading the way followed by No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 17 Baylor and No. 19 Oklahoma State. 
The Wildcats are led on the course by head coach Grant Robbins who, in his first year with the team, has worked hard to grow the program both on and off the course. Though young - this year's youthful K-State roster is made up of sophomores Matt Green, Seth Smith, Connor Knabe, and Hank Simpson, and freshman Trent Evans - K-State men's golf is eager to face some of the nation's top contenders this week.
Leading up to this week's championship, K-State Sports Extra sat down with Wildcat men's golf head coach Grant Robbins to chat about the upcoming competition.
Sports Extra: What are your thoughts going into the Big 12 Championship?
Grant Robbins: It's obviously going to be a huge challenge for us. We've been up and down this year, but it's going to be a really good experience for our guys. Our entire roster is made up of freshmen and sophomores, so just the opportunity to play in the Big 12 Championship, in arguably the best conference in golf this year, that's big.
SE: Will it be difficult for your group of young guys to go up against these high caliber teams?
GR: It's not going to be new to them because we significantly updated the schedule this spring. We played against Illinois who was ranked No. 1 for a while and then Florida State a couple weeks ago and they're No. 1 right now, so just about every tournament in the spring we have seen Top 10 and 15 teams. There won't be that intimidation factor. It's just going to be showing our guys how much further we need to go to get to that level.  We strive to be one of the top teams in this conference, and this will be a good measuring stick for us.
SE: This is your first year as a coach at the Big 12 Championship, are you excited to get things underway?
GR: I've been coaching for a long time and I've competed against every team that is in the Big 12 before, so I know the Big 12 is one of, if not the top, conference in golf. From what I've heard, they do a fabulous job in the way they run the championship, and that it's first class in every way. So I'm looking forward to the experience. 
SE: Which players do you expect to step up this week?
GR: All year Matt Green and Seth Smith have been our top two players. They have struggled a little bit in their last three tournaments, but our biggest thing now is that we have to get some production in the three, four and five spots. Those guys are working and they're getting better, but if you look over the course of the year, Matt and Seth have been really steady and then there's been a pretty big drop off. For us to be successful, we've got to get four scorers. That's something we've had trouble with this year.
SE: What are your expectations from the guys heading into today's competition?
GR: I expect us to go out there and give it everything we have. To compete, play one shot at a time and when you're competing in golf, you're playing against the golf course, so you just have to block out who you're playing against. If we can just stick to playing one shot at a time and concentrate on trying to beat the golf course, we'll be fine.
SE: What are your thoughts on Southern Hills Country Club?
GR: It's a major championship course, so it's going to be a very, very big test. The Big 12 Championship is 72 holes over three rounds, which is something we haven't done, so it's definitely going to be a grind, but we're looking forward to it.
SE: Finally, how far has this team come since the beginning of the season?
GR: Sometimes progress isn't measured in results, but we have progressed significantly. My No. 1 goal this year was to establish a new culture, and we're asking a lot of them as far as their commitment level; we've been pushing them really hard. But, they've responded really well, and they've come a long way. If they stick to the process, stay committed to what we're doing, the results are going to come. It just might not be as fast as they would like.
For more information on the Wildcat golf team's trip to the Big 12 Championship, please click here
 

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