Golfers Start Season at Central Region Preview

Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 9-10
    8:30 a.m. Saturday - Shotgun Start
    7:45 a.m. Sunday - Tee Times
Rich Harvest Farms G.C.
Sugar Grove, Ill.
Par 72 / 7,325 yards
Hosted by Northern Illinois
Akron, Ball State, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, KANSAS STATE, Louisville, Marquette, Michigan, Missouri, Northern Illinois, SMU

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State begins it’s 73rd year of men’s golf on Saturday, when the Wildcats travel to Sugar Grove, Ill., to participate in the Central Region Preview. The opening 36 rounds will tee off with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start on Saturday. The final round is slated for 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, with tee times determining when the Wildcats begin play. Live statistics for the Central Region Preview will be available at Final results will be posted on as soon as they become available each day.

The par 72, 7,325-yard Rich Harvest Farms Golf Club is a private club located in Sugar Grove, Ill., just outside Chicago. Home of the 2003 Mid-American Conference Championship, Rich Harvest Farms was ranked as the “fifth-best New Private Course’” in 1999 by GolfDigest, and currently ranks No. 45 on the publication’s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.”

With half of this year’s 10-man squad represented by true freshmen, the 2006-07 Wildcats will be young this season. That youth will be put to test right out of the gate as three freshmen will open the season as starters this weekend. Mitchell Gregson, the No. 2 golfer this weekend, was a late signee from Waterloo, Ill. Gregson originally signed with Saint Louis University last year, but the university informed him it was dropping its men’s golf program. Gregson signed with Kansas State in April. Jason Schulte, a graduate of Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, will be entering the season on a high note after winning the Kansas Junior Amateur in June. Joe Ida rounds out the Wildcat rookie competitors this weekend. In his last high school competition last year, Ida brought home the Kansas 4A individual state title on the heels of an 18-hole score of 70. Of the five golfers competing at the Central Region Preview, only junior Kyle Yonke and sophomore Robert Streb, who advanced to the NCAA Championship last season, are non-freshmen.

SMU headlines this weekend’s 12-team field in Sugar Groove. The Mustangs finished the season 34th in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings a year ago. The field also features three Big 12 schools outside of Kansas State as Colorado, Kansas and Missouri will take the course. Three squads, Colorado, Missouri and SMU, were also participants in last season’s Central Regional.

Just like last season, the Wildcats will be able to get a sneak peek of the course that hosts this season’s regional play. Last year, the Wildcats opened the season at the Cleveland State Invitational at Sand Ridge G.C., the same coure the Wildcats battled in the NCAA Central Regional just eight months later. At the Cleveland State Invitational, the Wildcats carded a three-round score of 31-over par 883 to finish in eighth. Senior Ben Kern placed second with a three-round score of 8-under par 205. Freshman Robert Streb recorded the second-lowest Wildcat score with an 11-over par 224. However, the track proved to be tougher the second time around as the ’Cats shot a team score of 51-over par 903. However, Streb shaved eight strokes off his first go-around at Sand Ridge as he fired a 3-under par 216 to tie for 12th.

The 2005-06 season marked the fourth-straight year the Wildcats earned a berth into the NCAA Central Regional. K-State might have been lucky to make it to the postseason after a tie for 10th at the Big 12 Championship, but finished a respectable 18th at the regional, four spots ahead of its pre-tournament seed of 22nd. Kansas State lost three golfers from last season’s squad to graduation. However, none might have been as big as the departure of K-State's all-time leader in career stroke average, Ben Kern. In four years as a Wildcat (2003-06), Kern complied a 73.77 stroke average, just edging out Matt Van Cleave by 0.19 strokes-per-round. Kern also carded the best 54-hole score in school history, when he fired a 14-under par 199 to win the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, April 8-9, 2006. For his efforts a year ago, which included a team-low 72.74 season stroke average, Kern was named to PING's All-Central Regional team. K-State also lost the services of Tyler Cummins, a two-year letterwinner. Cummins finished the season third on the team in stroke average at 74.53. His best finish of the season came at the Memphis Intercollegiate, where he placed tied for eighth.

Although K-State lost its all-time career leader in stroke average, the Wildcats might have one of the most promising young golfers in collegiate golf in sophomore Robert Streb. As a freshman, Streb placed second on the team in stroke average at 73.83 strokes per round, the best stroke average by a freshman in the Tim Norris era. He also became only the fourth golfer and first freshman in K-State history to advanced to the NCAA Championship. The Edmond, Okla., product, moved on to nationals on the heels of a tie for 12th at the NCAA Central Regional. He was the top individual not on an advancing team. Kyle Yonke returns as the Wildcats’ most experienced golfer. A junior from Lubbock, Texas, Yonke competed in 11 of the team’s 13 events last season, boasting a 75.25 stroke average. The Wildcats also sport a five-man recruiting class that have made a name for themselves on the high school level. All five guys finished in the top-five of their respective state tournaments last spring, with Fort Scott, Kan., product Joe Ida leading the way after claiming the Kansas Class 4A State Championship. Two more Kansas natives, Ross Geuebelle and Jason Schulte, had successful summers on the junior circuit as Geubelle finished seventh at the national Big I Junior Classic in Odessa, Texas, and Schulte took home first-place honors at the Kansas Junior Amateur in July. Mitchell Gregson, who will see his first tournament action as a collegiate golfer this weekend, also came to K-State with an impressive resume. The Waterloo, Ill., native, was an all-conference selection all four years of high school, and completed his senior season with a 72.00 stroke average. Gregson placed first in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) regionals and sectionals, carding a 69 and a 71, respectively. He also broke an IHSA Class AA record, carding a 71-70141 (-3) during the state tournament. He made a birdie putt on the last hole to force a playoff in that tournament, but lost in a four-hole playoff. Spencer Alefs, who redshirted last season, is also in the mix for a traveling spot.

Robert Streb, who in May became only the fourth individual in K-State history to advance to the NCAA Championship, fired an 8-under par 64 on Aug. 23 to set the new course record at Colbert Hills. The previous record was a 5-under par 67 held by ex-Wildcat golfers Matt Williams and Bryan Milberger. Streb, playing from the Black and Blue tees which stretch 7,525 yards, sunk seven birdies and an eagle on the day, with his lone bogey coming with a three putt on No. 5.

Mitchell Gregson, one of three true freshmen competing in the season opener this weekend, will be back in his home state of Illinois. Gregson, a standout at Waterloo HS in Waterloo, Ill., qualified as K-State’s No. 2 golfer for the Central Region Preview.

K-State's Central Region Preview Lineup
NAME             YR-EXP  HOMETOWN           RDS.  AVG.
Robert Streb     So.-1L  Edmond, Okla.       41  73.83
Mitchell Gregson Fr.-HS  Waterloo, Ill.      --  --
Jason Schulte    Fr.-HS  Mission Hills, Kan. --  --
Kyle Yonke       Jr.-2L  Lubbock, Texas      32  75.25
Joe Ida          Fr.-HS  Ft. Scott, Kan.     --  --