K-State Looks For Improved Play at Braveheart Classic

Monday-Tuesday, March 5-6, 2007
     Monday: 7:45 a.m. (PT) - Shotgun Start
     Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. (PT) - Shotgun Start
Oak Valley Golf Club
Beaumont, Calif.
Par 72 / 7,003 yards
Hosted by UC Riverside
Teams (18):
Boise State, Cal State Northridge, Charleston Southern, Gonzaga, Idaho, Jacksonville, KANSAS STATE, Penn, Portland, Sacramento State, Southern Utah, St. Joseph’s, Texas-Pan American, UC Riverside, UCLA, Utah, Utah State, Weber State.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State men’s golf team looks to regroup following an 18th-place finish two weeks ago at the Rio Pinar Intercollegiate as it heads to Beaumont, Calif., to take part in the fifth-annual Braveheart Classic, Monday through Tuesday, March 5-6. The Wildcats will be looking for improvement as they head into the heart of their schedule, playing in three tournaments in as many weeks, including back-to-back trips to California. The event will tee off Monday with a 7:45 a.m. (PT) shotgun start to the first two rounds. Tuesday will also be a shotgun start, with final-round play beginning at 8:00 a.m. (PT). Live statistics will not be available for the Braveheart Classic. Results will be posted on www.k-statesports.com as soon as they are made available.

     Located just 30 miles east of the campus of UC Riverside, Oak Valley Golf Club is one of five home courses for the Highlanders. The course was built in 1990 and designed by Lee E. Schmidt and Brian Curley. It was also one of two sites that hosted the second stage of the 2006 PGA Tour Qualifying. For more information on Oak Valley Golf Club, please visit www.oakvalleygolf.com.
     K-State is 3-2-0 this season against teams in the field, posting 1-0 records against Gonzaga, Southern Utah and UC-Riverside, but lost decisions to Boise State and Utah... UCLA is the highest ranked team in the field (No. 12 according to Golfweek), an impressive 73 spots head of the next highest ranked team, Jacksonville (No. 85)... The Bruins will be back to defend their title from a year ago, when they won the event with a three-round score of one-over par 865, 19 strokes ahead of Cal Poly and San Diego... Chris Heintz (UCLA) was the individual medalist with a 7-under par 209... UC Riverside won the inaugural event in 2003, and also took home the team title in 2005.

     The Wildcats have been in a shooting slump the past two tournaments, placing 18th of 18 teams in their last outing, the Rio Pinar Intercollegiate. It was only the second time in the Tim Norris era that K-State has finished last in a field that had 10 or more squads (Rice Intercollegiate, Feb. 12-13, 2001, 10th of 10). However, history is on K-State’s side as that 2001 squad improved in the standings in the next four events, finishing as high as second in  a 10-team field at the Branson Creek Invitational.

     For the first time in his career, sophomore Joe Kinney will be the No. 1 K-State golfer heading into an event. A product of Antioch, Ill., Kinney has played in 13 career events, compling a career stroke average of 76.19. He was also apart of the team’s back-to-back top-five finishes last year during the Stevinson Ranch Inviational and the ASU Thunderbird Invitational.

     Kansas State has relied heavily on the play of junior Kyle Yonke, sophomore Robert Streb and freshmen Mitchell Gregson and Joe Ida. Yonke will be appearing in his 26th-career tournament, including 13-straight and all eight this season. Since coming to K-State, Streb has competed in all of the possible 19 team events and also competed as an individual in the 2006 NCAA Championship. However, that streak will come to an end as he is not in the lineup for the Braveheart Classic. Both Gregson and Ida have competed in the first seven events this season, a streak that will continue at the Braveheart Classic.

     The Wildcats have faced tough competition up to this point in the season and will continue to tee it up against highly-ranked opponents. K-State has faced or will face nine of the top 25 teams in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings, including three top-10 teams. One of those teams - No. 12 UCLA - will play in Beaumont. The Bruins are also ranked No. 7 in the new Golfworld/Nike Coaches Poll.

     Ben Kern, a K-State letterwinner from 2003-06 and the school's all-time leader in career stroke average, picked up his first professional victory by winning Tournament 6 on The Gateway Tour's Desert Winter Series. The Tucson, Ariz., native, carded a three-round score of 6-under par 210 (72-69-69) on the par 72, 7,074-yard The Wigwam Resort Gold Course. Kern won the event by two strokes over Brian Smock, who shot even-par 72 during the final round, allowing Kern to jump him on the leaderboard. Kern currently ranks third on the series’ moneylist and has amassed a stroke average of 69.22 over the last three tournaments.

     Kansas State head men's golf coach Tim Norris announced the signings of Kyle Smell and Daniel Wood to National Letters of Intent (NLI) for the 2007-08 season. Smell will be coming to K-State with an impressive resume after being named the 2005 Kansas Golf Association (KGA) Junior Player of the Year. The Overland Park, Kan., product took home first-place honors during a qualifier for the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur. He was also the runner up again at the 2006 Kansas Junior Amateur, falling by one stroke to current Wildcat Jason Schulte. Back in November, Smell won his first Future Collegians World Tour event by carding a two-round score of 5-over par 149 at the Bear Creek West Open in Dallas, Texas. Currently a senior at Blue Valley West High School, Smell was crowned Eastern Kansas League (EKL) Champion as a junior in 2006, as well as being named All-Sun Country in both 2005 and 2006.

     Wood, ranked No. 45 in the Class of 2007 according to Golfweek, has had success both as a prep and in national amateur tournaments. He claimed a fourth-place finish out of 109 competitors at the Texas Junior Golf Tour Championship following a 36-hole score of 9-over par 153. He also tied for fourth at the AJGA Medicus Preseason Junior with a 3-over par 143. Currently a senior at Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park, Texas, Wood was a regional runner-up as well as a state finalist as a junior in 2006. He was also the district runner-up in 2004 and 2006. The Leander, Texas, native, led the Rangers to district championships in both 2005 and 2006.

     Those that stepped up into more of an important role during the fall were Kyle Yonke and freshmen Mitchell Gregson and Joe Ida. Yonke led the team during the fall in stroke average at 74.53, nearly a stroke-and-a-half improvement from last season. He led the team in its last two events of the fall, the Alister MacKenzie Invitational and the Club Glove Intercollegiate, and also tied his career-best finish of 17th at the Wolverine Intercollegiate with 3-over par 216. The Lubbock, Texas, native, also notched the top 54-hole score of his career at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, where he finished at 2-over par 215. Gregson, a native of Waterloo, Ill., came out of the gate swinging as he finished tied for sixth at the Central Region Preview following a 9-over par 225. He finished second on the team in stroke average after the fall season at 75.07. His best tournament vs. par during the five-tournament fall stretch was a 3-over 219 at the Wolf Pack Classic. Ida had his best tournament at the Wolverine Intercollegiate as he paced the Cats with a 2-over par 215 to tie for 15th.

K-State's Braveheart Classic Lineup
NAME             YR-EXP HOMETOWN       RDS.  AVG.
Joe Kinney       So.-1L Antioch, Ill.    7  77.86
Mitchell Gregson Fr.-HS Waterloo, Ill.  19  75.95 
Jay Kramer       Sr.-1L Lenexa, Kan.     3  77.00
Kyle Yonke       Jr.-2L Lubbock, Texas  19  75.16 
Joe Ida          Fr.-HS Ft. Scott, Kan. 19  76.16