K-State Heads to Hutch for Big 12 Championship

Monday-Tuesday, April 23-24, 2007
   Monday: 8:50 a.m. - Tee Times
   Tuesday: 8:00 or 8:50 a.m. - Tee Times
Prairie Dunes Country Club
Hutchinson, Kan.
Par 70 / 6,596 yards
Hosted by Kansas
Teams (12):
Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, KANSAS STATE, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - For the 15th time in the past 18 years, the Kansas State men’s golf team will stay within its state’s boarders for the conference championship as the Wildcats head to Hutchinson, Kan., for the 2007 Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship, April 23-24. The 11th annual conference championship will be held at Prairie Dunes Country Club for the seventh time since the formation of the conference, but just the first time since 2004, which was the same year the Wildcats tied their highest conference finish of fourth. K-State, which is paired with Iowa State and Missouri, will tee off from hole No. 10 at 8:50 a.m. to the start 36-hole play Monday. Tuesday’s tee times will be based on Monday’s results, with tee times at 8:00 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. Live results are available on www.golfstat.com. Results will be posted on www.k-statesports.com at the conclusion of each day.

     Prairie Dunes Country Club, a par 70, 6,596-yard championship course in Hutchinson, Kan., has been home of the Big Eight/Big 12 Men’s Golf Conference Championship on 14 different occasions, including an 11-year stretch from 1992-2002. The club has also been host to many amateur and professional events, with the most recent being the 2006 U.S. Senior Open. The course opened its first nine holes in 1937 and added an additional nine in 1957. Located in south central Kansas, Prairie Dunes is a major golfing attraction to many of those throughout the state. In fact, Kansas State freshman Joe Ida, who is slotted as the No. 2 golfer for the conference championship, is a member of the club. For more information on Prairie Dunes Country Club, please visit www.prairiedunes.com.
     K-State is 6-10 this season against the field, collecting two victories over both Colorado and Iowa State, and one victory over Kansas and Missouri... The only two conference foes Kansas State did not see in the regular season were Oklahoma State and Texas... The No. 9 Cowboys lead the field in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, followed by Texas A&M at No. 12 and the Longhorns at No. 28... Since the formation of the Big 12, Oklahoma State has won four conference titles, followed by Texas with three, and Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas all have one.

     Coming off back-to-back 10th-place finishes, Kansas State will be looking to return to the form it showed from 1999-2004 when the Wildcats improved its conference finish each year. In head coach Tim Norris’ second season, the Wildcats finished 12th at the conference championship, but Kansas State showed improvement starting in 1999, culimating with a fourth-place finish in 2004. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, the Wildcats have had one fourth-place finish, one sixth-place finish, two seventh-place finishes, one eighth-place finish, four 10th-place finishes, and one 12th-place finish.

     Kansas State returns to the site of its best conference finish in school history as the Wildcats placed fourth at the 2004 Big 12 Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. Kansas State had three players finish among the top 15 individuals as the Wildcats combined to shoot a team score of 881 (290-289-302). It was the best Big 12 finish for K-State, which had climbed consistently at the league championship under the guidance of head coach Tim Norris, and the best finish by the Wildcats since taking fourth at the 1969 Big Eight Championships.
     Then-senior Aaron Watkins, who started final-round play in third, finished in a tie for sixth after shooting a 5-over 75, giving him a three-round total of 6-over par 216 (70-71-75). Watkins’ finish matched his career best in the Big 12, as he also tied for sixth in 2002, which were the highest individual finishes in a conference championship until Van Cleave claimed a fourth-place finish in 2005.

     Last year, then-freshman Robert Streb accomplished somewhat of a rarity as he competed in all 13 events during the season. Until last year, only five true freshmen have participated in at least 75 percent of the team’s events during the season under head coach Tim Norris’ watch. This year, the Wildcats have two freshmen who have competed in every event this season in Mitchell Gregson and Joe Ida. The only freshmen duo to come close to competing in every event under Norris was A.J. Elgert and Aaron Watkins, who competed in 9-of-11 events as freshmen during the 2000-01 season. Both pairs are comparable when it comes to stroke average, as Elgert and Watkins teamed up for a 75.85 average, while Gregson and Ida hold a 75.68 average.

     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 10 of the top 25 teams in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings, including five top-10 teams, during the 2006-07 campaign. Kansas State will see No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 14 Texas A&M this week in Hutchinson.

     After finishing 18th at the Rio Pinar Intercollegiate to start 54-hole play this spring, Kansas State caught fire during March, especially in its last two events of the month. K-State finished seventh at the Fresno State Golf Classic with a score of 17-over par 881 and tied for third at the Ron Moore Invitational with a season-low 14-under par 850. During those two events, the Wildcats recorded four of their top five team rounds, increased their winning percentage from .309 to .419, and bettered its Golfweek ranking from 160 to 139.
     Individually, Kyle Yonke led K-State’s charge as he has averaged 71.17 strokes per round during the two events, followed by Mitchell Gregson (72.67), Joe Kinney (73.00) and Robert Streb (73.17). K-State collected seven of its top 10 individual rounds during the two events, all top-five individual 54-holes scores, recorded four top-20 finishes, and saw five players record their career-low 54-hole scores.

     Senior Jay Kramer, junior Kyle Yonke, and sophomores Joe Kinney and Robert Streb were among 34 student-athletes named to the 2007 Academic All-Big 12 golf teams, conference officials announced on April 18. Kansas State tied with Nebraska for third, as both schools had four academic all-conference selections. Missouri placed a league-high six student-athletes on the squad, followed by Oklahoma State with five. Kramer, a political science major from Lenexa, Kan., and Yonke, a marketing major from Lubbock, Texas, were two of 30 individuals named to the first team.
     Since first-year students are not eligible for all-league academic honors, both Kinney and Streb made appearances on the team during their first-eligible years. Kinney, a business administration major from Antioch, Ill., and Streb, also a business administration major from Edmond, Okla., were second-team selections.
     In his 10 years at Kansas State, head coach Tim Norris has placed 23 student-athletes on the academic all-league list, including 18 on the first team. The Wildcats have produced at least two all- academic student-athletes every year since the 1999-2000 season.

     Kansas State has relied heavily on the play of junior Kyle Yonke, sophomores Robert Streb and Joe Kinney, and freshmen Mitchell Gregson and Joe Ida. Yonke has appeared in 30 career tournaments to date, including 17-straight and all 12 this season. Since coming to K-State, Streb has seen action in 24 of 25 team events and also competed as an individual in the 2006 NCAA Championship. Both Gregson and Ida have competed in all 12 events this season. Sophomore Joe Kinney has become a major part of the lineup this spring as he was a year ago as a freshman. Last year, Kinney saw action in seven-straight events and is in the lineup for the eighth-consecutive time this spring. The Wildcats have used all five of these guys in the lineup in six of the seven fall events, and all five are in the lineup for the conference championship.

K-State's Big 12 Championship Lineup
NAME              YR-EXP  HOMETOWN       RDS   AVG
Robert Streb      So.-1L  Edmond, Okla.   31 74.97 
Joe Ida           Fr.-HS  Ft. Scott, Kan. 34 75.79
Mitchell Gregson  Fr.-HS  Waterloo, Ill.  34 75.56 
Joe Kinney        So.-1L  Antioch, Ill.   22 77.18
Kyle Yonke        Jr.-2L  Lubbock, Texas  34 75.12