Kansas finishes 12th in first tournament of the fall.
USAFA ACADEMY, Colo. - Dylan McClure used three birdies and only two bogeys to fire the first red number by a Kansas men's golfer this fall, a 1-under par 71 on the Eisenhower Blue Course to tie for 23rd place at the season-opening Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational Monday. As a team, the Jayhawks posted their second-straight round of 296 (+8) to conclude the event in 12th place with a 54-hole total of 892 (+28).
"I thought we played pretty average," said Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel when reflecting on the team's performance throughout the tournament. "We gave away too many shots around the greens. Like I said yesterday, the greens are tricky. You have to pay attention. It's a huge advantage if you've played this course several times, but you just have to figure out a way to make putts."
McClure, a sophomore from Justin, Texas, proved to be the steadiest golfer for the Jayhawks over the two days, never recording more than three birdies in any given round, yet registering only one hole with a score worse than bogey for the entire event. In total, McClure had 35 pars during the tournament hosted by Air Force.
"He hit it down the middle to get it in the fairway and on the green," said Bermel. "He was patient. He didn't make any mistakes and holed some great putts."
McClure's final birdie of the day came on the most difficult hole of the course, No. 15, which placed him at 4-over par for the tournament. The par-4, 499-yard hole surrendered only 17 birdies during the two days while forcing 125 scores of bogey or worse out of the 261 rounds played. For the event, the average score on No. 15 was a half-shot over par at 4.54 strokes.
It was the difficult No. 15 where senior Chris Gilbert saw his stellar round slip away. Gilbert made the turn with a 3-under 33 after he eagled the par-5, 585-yard ninth hole on the course. Gilbert was at 2-under for the day when he stepped to the No. 15 tee box, but Gilbert shot 5-over on the next two holes and ended his final round with a 75 (+3). For the Invitational, Gilbert had the second-best score for Kansas with a 223 (+7) to tie for 41st.
"He hit a bad tee ball on No. 15 and complicated things by hitting another bad shot to make a triple bogey," said Bermel. "On the next hole, right in the middle of the fairway, he hit it into the trees and ended up making double bogey. Other than that, he played fine. It was just two bad swings."
After Gilbert, junior Ryley Haas had the next best tournament of any Jayhawk. The newcomer from Hutchinson Community College had two rounds of 73 during the event as part of an 8-over 224 competing as an individual. Right behind him was junior Bryce Brown, who shot a 73 on the final day for his best round of the tournament to tie for 49th with a 54-hole aggregate of 225 (+9).
The Jayhawks will only have a few days to practice before traveling to their next event, the Golfweek Conference Challenge, which begins Sunday in Burlington, Iowa.
"I think we need to figure out how far the ball is flying and get our yardages on our irons so we can be a little sharper on our approach shots," said Bermel. "It seems like that kind of hurt us. We'll continue to work on the short game also."
Kansas will compete for three days in the Golfweek Conference Challenge with the tournament opening on Sunday, Sept. 16, and concluding Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Spirit Hollow Golf Course.
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