Juffer Has Tournament of His Life

Junior Ben Juffer with head men's golf coach Tim Norris.

April 16, 2012

This feature appeared in the Monday edition of K-State Sports Extra.

By Mark Janssen

It’s no more difficult than “fairways and greens.”
 
That’s the way Kansas State junior Ben Juffer described his record-breaking performance last week at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic staged at the Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
 
“If you didn’t hit it in the middle, you’d be out in the desert playing out of cactus,” said Juffer of his rounds of 65, 66 and 67.  “It was unexpected, but a lot of fun.  I’ve had good rounds before, but not three in a row like this.  I just got in a groove and kept going.”
 
For Juffer, the 65 was his lowest round by three strokes; the 131 two-round total broke his own personal record by eight strokes; and, the 54-hole total of 198 shattered his own collegiate record by 16 swings.
 
In K-State history, the 65 is the fifth-lowest score ever shot by a Wildcat, and the 198 three-round total broke Ben Kern’s record of 199 set in the 2006 Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational.
 
Laughing, the West Des Moines, Iowa, native said, “I didn’t even know about the record until that night when my mom told me that she read it.  I had no idea, but it was pretty cool.”

Cool enough to lead the K-State team to an 826 first-place finish, tying the school record team total last shot at the Pacific Invitational in 2007.

All parts of Juffer’s game were in place to shoot the 12-under total.

The only fairway that he missed was the first hole of the tournament.

He hit 85 percent of the greens in regulation.

He averaged just 29 putts.

On the first day, he had nine birdies and no bogeys in 36 holes of play.

“I’ve been practicing really hard the last month and it started coming together the last two weeks,” said Juffer, who graduated from Des Moines’ Dowling Catholic High School.  “My mind sort of went blank when I was playing.  I added up my score at the end of the first round and it was a 65.  I was shocked.  I couldn’t think about it because I knew I had another round to play.  I knew I had shot a good score, but I sure wasn’t thinking it would be a 65.”

Even with a 65 and a 66, Juffer found himself in second place to Mike Wuertz of Colorado State, who is a native of Davenport, Iowa, and a long-time prep competitor.

“I was down three going into the last round and by two going into the last two holes,” said Juffer.  “I had to get two birdies to tie.”
 
And he did just that.

Playing with all Titleist equipment, Juffer birdied the Par 5 17th hole, and then rolled in a five-foot putt on No. 18 for the tie.  He was awarded the tournament title by way of shooting a 67 on the final day compared to the 70 shot by Wuertz.

“I was full of nerves on that last putt.  I knew I had to make it to tie.  I just tried to take some deep breaths and stroke it,” said Juffer.  “They didn’t have time for a playoff, so they went with the low final round.  It’s not really the way you want to decide it, but I’ll take it.”

As head coach Tim Norris told Juffer, “You do not get a chance to win a lot in golf.  There is a lot of losing in this sport.  Savor it while you can.”

Juffer’s three-round total lowered his season stroke average from 74.7 to 73.5 heading into the Big 12 Championship at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, on April 27-28-29.

“I’ve had some good tournaments and some bad ones, so I hope to ride the momentum of this tournament into the next one,” said Juffer, a finance major at K-State.

Juffer, who scored his first hole-in-one at the age of nine and was the Iowa PGA Junior Tour Player of the Year in 2007, chose the Wildcats after taking visits to Iowa and Iowa State because of the “family atmosphere” of the Wildcat campus.

That, and the fact that K-State head coach Tim Norris had previously been a champion on the PGA Tour.

“That figured into the decision because he knows what it takes to play at that next level,” said Juffer.  “If you’re willing to work, he’s willing to help you.  He knows what’s going on and he knows how to balance school and golf.  He’s bettered my game each of the last three years.”

Bettered his game to the point of being a K-State record-setter.