Strong Field Awaits Wildcats in Missouri

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State won't be facing the biggest field of competitors but it will be facing its' biggest competition of the season at the Missouri Tiger Intercollegiate on Monday and Tuesday, April 7-8.

The Wildcats will compete against 11 teams at the new par-72, 6,204-yard Club at Old Hawthorne in the team's final tournament before the Big 12 Championships. Three teams in the field are ranked in the top-25 and five are in the top-50 of Golfweek Magazine's latest poll.

The Wildcats, who have placed in the top five in five of the last six events, are looking for a rebound of sorts after slipping out of contention in the third round of the Diet Pepsi Shocker Classic on Tuesday, April 1.

"Last week's over so everybody starts at zero at this tournament," K-State head coach Tim Norris said. "It's an excellent field with a lot of good competitors. Quite a few of the teams we haven't seen. Strength-wise, this ranks right up there with the Big 12 Tournament and with one or two others that we played last fall. Hopefully (our guys) will bring their best stuff and we'll see how we do."

Mitchell Gregson, Joe Ida and Robert Streb have been in the scoring lineup for K-State all season and will lead the Wildcats into competition again next week when the tournament tees off at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start and the first 36 holes. The third and final round begins Tuesday, also with an 8 a.m. shotgun start.

A pair of freshmen, Kyle Smell and Daniel Wood, will join the K-State regulars in the scoring lineup in Columbia. Smell competed in every event last fall and will make his third appearance for the Wildcats this spring. Wood has made all four trips with the Wildcats in the spring and will make his second start in the scoring lineup.

"They've earned their spot, and the two guys that dropped out are right there with them," Norris said. "Everybody has earned their place wherever they are. I'm really excited. Daniel has several good rounds this spring and has played in the individual spot for us. I think he's ready to step in there and show us what he can do.

"Kyle played in every tournament in the fall and it's been an adjustment for him being in top-tournament form in the first of March. I'm confident that both of those guys are going to be able to step in there and play well."

Despite the Big 12 Championship Tournament at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, looming at the end of April, Norris said there aren't any expectations or goals for the Missouri Tiger Intercollegiate other than playing well.

"I think we have enough confidence built up over the year," Norris said. "We've shown that we can do it. I don't think one tournament can make or break your season. We've been in contention enough that if our guys go and play well, we'll have a pretty good chance. The finish is important in some respects, but you just want a winning effort every time you go out and we've had that. Overall I've been very pleased to this point."

K-State will take either Ross Geubelle or Kyle Yonke to compete as an individual. That spot was to be decided in practice on Friday.

K-State’s Projected Lineup
1 - Joe Ida - So. - 72.57 - Notched his team-leading 4th top-5 finish at the Shocker Classic
2 - Mitchell Gregson - So. - 72.67 - Team leader with 13 rounds under par
3 - Robert Streb - Jr. - 73.90 - Third all-time at K-State with 43 career tournaments played
4 - Daniel Wood - Fr. - 75.17 - Showed a flash brilliance with a 67 at Ron Moore Invite
5 - Kyle Smell - Fr. - 75.33 - Impressed with a 74.56 stroke average in six fall events
IND - Ross Geubelle/Kyle Yonke - To be determined in practice on Friday

A Glance at the Field
Second only to the 10-team Jim Colbert Intercollegiate in terms of the smallest field for K-State this season, the 11-team Missouri Tiger Intercollegiate is perhaps second to none in terms of quality of competition. The Wildcats will match strokes with three teams ranked in the March 31, Golfweek top-25 poll (Michigan State, 22; Wichita State, 23; Indiana, 24) and two more ranked in the top-50 (Arkansas, 39; Michigan, 40). K-State is one of three teams from the Big 12 in the field, joining host-Missouri and Iowa State. There are three teams from the Big 10 Conference (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State), and one each from the Atlantic-10 (Xavier), Missouri Valley (Wichita State), Pac-10 (Washington), SEC (Arkansas) and Western Athletic (San Jose State) Conferences. K-State is a combined 3-2 against the field after facing just three of the teams in previous contests (Iowa State, San Jose State, Wichita State).

The Club at Old Hawthorne
Opened in the spring of 2007, the Club at Old Hawthorne is still in its infancy but is already turning heads, just ask former K-State golfer and current executive director of the Missouri Golf Association. “Outstanding. That's how I describe The Club at Old Hawthorne. This new golf complex has everything that you look for in a golf course and country club. You can tell by just walking out on the course that nothing has been done unless it was done for the best. It gives players of all skill levels a chance to enjoy the beautiful layout.” The par-72 course designed by 14-year course veteran Art Schaupeter and built by Niebur Golf will be set up to play at 6,204 yards. K-State head coach Tim Norris got a firsthand look at the course while playing with his son last summer, an advantage the rest of the Wildcats don’t have. “It’s a really, really fair golf course,” Norris said. “It’s all out in front of you, no secrets. It’s a brand new golf course and a brand new tournament. I don’t think that the familiarity factor is part of the equation this week.”

Last Time Out
Joe Ida and Mitchell Gregson finished in the top 10 but couldn’t keep the Wildcats from slipping to fourth place in the final round at the Diet Pepsi Shocker Classic on Tuesday. Ida and Gregson led the Wildcats with 75s on Tuesday as scores were inflated from Monday’s round and the Wildcats shot 304 as a team while being overtaken by Virginia Commonwealth for third place. K-State entered the final day 10 strokes out of the lead but turned in its worst round of the event and finished 286-290-304880 (+28) for the tournament. Wichita State, the tournament host, won the event with a three day total of 281-286-288855 (+3) and placed all five of its scorers in the top-15. Texas-Arlington’s Kevin Carrigan, who played the tournament as an individual, won the individual title with a 7-under 206.

A Little Historical Perspective
This year’s K-State team has already poked numerous holes in the K-State record books while recording individual and team lows but they might only be getting started. The Wildcats are on pace to break the school scoring mark and are averaging just 293.17 strokes per round through 10 events. The 2003-04 K-State team owns the current low annual average with 294.73 strokes per round. Kansas State is one top-5 finish away from matching that same squad for the school record for top-5 finishes in a season. K-State notched its seventh top-5 finish last week at the Diet Pepsi Shocker Classic and is one behind the 2003-04 team that had eight.

Early Contributions
The efforts of red-shirt freshman Ross Geubelle and true freshmen Kyle Smell and Daniel Wood haven’t gone unnoticed by their coach and teammates and the trios contributions are being recognized nationally. In the April 3 Golfstat Freshman Class Impact Ranking, the Wildcat freshman class was rated the 19th best in the nation. The three have combined to contribute 22 rounds to the K-State team score this season. According to the poll, K-State’s freshmen have had the third-biggest impact among Big 12 teams, behind only Oklahoma State (2nd) and Kansas (15th).

Wildcats and the .500 Rule
With their .712 winning percentage and 104-40-2 win-loss record, the Wildcats are well above the .500 mark. A new rule for 2007-08 mandates that teams must have better than a .500 record to be eligible for postseason play.