K-State Ready for NCAA West Regional

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State men’s golf team will make its fifth postseason appearance in six years when it begins play at the 2008 NCAA Men’s Golf West Regional at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash., on Thursday.

The Wildcats qualified as the No. 23-seeded team and will be one of 27 squads competing during the three-day, 54-hole tournament on Gold Mountain’s par-72, 7,111-yard Olympic Course. The top-10 teams and top-two individuals not on a qualifying team will advance to the 2008 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships in West Lafayette, Ind., on May 28-31.

“It’s a good accomplishment to go but you don’t want to just go, you want to try to advance,” K-State head coach Tim Norris said. “We’re obviously going to have to play better than our seed, but I think we’re capable of it. We’ve got to overachieve just a little bit, but there’s no better place to overachieve than in the postseason. We’ve done it before and that speaks a lot louder than me trying to drum up a pep talk for them.”

K-State is looking to cap one of the best seasons in school history and write a better ending than the team’s eighth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships two weeks ago. This year’s team shot the lowest single-season stroke average in school history (294.14) and tied the 2003-04 team for the most top-five finishes with eight. K-State also won its first tournament since 2003 at the 2008 Ron Moore Invitational in March.

After spending a week sweating it out as a team on the bubble, K-State learned of its postseason berth on May 5 and became the first Wildcat squad since 2006 to advance to an NCAA Regional. Despite their seed, the Wildcats have shown that they can play with some of the top teams in the country after leading then No. 1-ranked Charlotte until the final holes at the Pacific Invitational last fall.

“Everybody’s got to play their way to the next level,” Norris said. “Hopefully we can put it all together. It’s going to be an uphill climb. With the parity now in college golf, I don’t think anybody can go in and play less than their best golf and expect to go on to the Nationals.”

K-State’s Joe Ida, Mitch Gregson and Robert Streb enter Thursday’s opening round at the top of the lineup and have played in every tournament for the Wildcats this season. Freshman Daniel Wood and senior Kyle Yonke emerged from a hotly-contested qualifying round last weekend and will compete in the No. 4 and No. 5 positions.

“All these guys have stepped up and done well for us,” Norris said. “I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that Kyle Yonke’s play at the Ron Moore spurred us to victory. Daniel Wood is a guy that’s never going to give in, just keeps working hard so we hope he can put together some rounds.

“Of course, Joe (Ida) and Mitch (Gregson) have been the rocks and Robert is kind of the difference maker. If Robert gets going on his game like I know he can, he’ll be right there in the thick of it. We’ve shown that we can play and score well, and score low. I’m sure if the conditions are good, regardless of what this golf course is like, we’re going to see some good scores.”

Yonke will make his third appearance in an NCAA Regional this weekend and Streb is making his second. Streb advance to the 2006 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship after shooting an even-par 216 and finishing 12th at the 2006 NCAA Central Region Championship.

Kansas State tees off its first round at 7:47 a.m. (PT) from the first tee on Thursday, April 15, and will tee off from the 10th tee at 12:59 p.m. (PT) to begin Friday’s second round. The tee times and starting positions for the final round on Saturday, April 16, will be determined by the previous days’ results.