Former Wildcat Golfer Wins Gateway Winter Series Championship

QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. ( - After a week of near perfect weather on a near perfectly conditioned golf course, former K-State Wildcat Ben Kern shot rounds of 66-69-68-67--270 (18-under par) to win the Winter Series Championship at Encanterra by 2 shots over Chris Kamin (68-68-70-66--272) to take home the $30,000 first place prize and the perfect end to his 2008 Desert Winter Series.

After holding the 54 hole lead, Kern stayed true to his steady final round approach with fairways and greens in mind, hitting a lot of both while managing 6 birdies to just 1 bogey.

His 24 birdies on the week tied the field lead, and along with following his game plan exactly how he had drawn it up, he felt his good putting in the final round carried him through to the win.

“I really only missed a couple of shots and felt like I just played really, really good today,” said Kern. “I stuck to my game plan of hitting to the fat of the greens, because a lot of these pins were definitely not accessible, and I held well with the putting again, making putts when I needed to. Overall, it was just as I said before...fairways and greens. That’s what won me this golf tournament.”

Kamin made valiant run at Kern with 8 birdies in his final round, but two bogeys on hole nos. 6 & 16 derailed his hopes of catching the 54 hole leader. Kern had the lead from start to finish during this final day at Encanterra, and now as the winner of this year’s first of four Championships, he feels this victory is an even bigger confidence builder than his first two.

“There’s no doubt this week means a lot for my confidence,” he noted. “Last year, I was able to win my 5th or 6th event (on The Gateway Tour) after turning professional, and I think that let me know early on that I could hang with these guys...I think the win this week just further acknowledges that statement and will be a big-time confidence builder for the rest of the year.”

The Kansas State University graduate will play The Gateway Tour throughout the rest of this year, with one of the main reasons including the Tour’s new Wednesday-Friday starts for both Series, because it will allow him to play a number of Nationwide Tour qualifiers along with the weekly Gateway Tour events.

“Last year I only played one Nationwide Tour qualifier, and this year I decided I wanted to play a lot more of them, so the fact that I can play a lot of those and won’t have to sell my spot for the weeks I do, allows me to do both, and that’s a big reason why I’m deciding to stay on (The Gateway Tour) for both the Spring and Summer Series.”

With this week’s $30,000 addition to his savings account, he’s made $63,915 through the completion of the Desert Winter Series, so with continued good play, he could certainly be on track for a monster year.

Regardless of his year-long potential though, the victory this week launched him to take the Winter Series' top Money-list position by almost $10,000 over Jesse Mueller ($54,797.17).

Another former Wildcat, Aaron Watkins, opened the tournament with three consecutive rounds of 2-under 70 but shot a 78 in the fourth round and finished tied for 39th.

- Story Courtesy of -