Jayhawks finish fifth as a team at Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate.
Oct. 23, 2012
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Chris Gilbert's final-round 2-under 69 earned him the first medalist honors by a Kansas men's golfer since 2010 after he tied Blake Biddle of UNLV for the individual title with a three-round total of 205 (-8) in the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate at the New Mexico State Golf Course Tuesday.
As a team, KU maintained its fifth-place position with a 5-over 287 for a 54-hole aggregate of 859 (+7) to conclude the fall season with its second top-five finish in its last three events.
After matching Biddle with back-to-back 68s on the first day of the event, Gilbert and Biddle again posted identical scores Tuesday to finish at the top of the leaderboard, two shots clear of Hunter Sparks of Wichita State. It marked the first time a Jayhawk received medalist honors since Nate Barbee won the Bill Ross Intercollegiate on Oct. 19, 2010.
"It's a really big relief," said the senior from Simi Valley, Calif. "I've really been working for this my entire career. I've been trying hard, and it finally worked out. I'm pretty relieved that I got one out of the way in the fall, so I won't put a bunch of pressure on myself in the spring."
Gilbert narrowly missed a 15-footer on his final hole that would have given him the trophy outright, but Kansas head coach Jamie Bermel was still pleased for Gilbert. Leading KU in scoring for the fourth-straight tournament and the 13th time in his career, Gilbert closed the fall slate with nine-straight rounds of par or better, dating back to the Mark Simpson Invitational in September where he finished tied for fifth.
"It's good for him because he's been close a couple times this fall," said Bermel. "The first one's always the hardest to win. He played really well. He played solid, didn't make any costly mistakes, kept the ball in play and putted really well."
The Jayhawks couldn't gain any ground in the team standings on the final day, remaining in fifth place. Freshman Jackson Foth shot a 2-over 73 to finish as KU's second-best scorer with a 214 (+1) for the event.
"We had to count a 74 (+3) as our fourth score again," commented Bermel, who had said it would take four scores under par to do something special as a team in the closing round. "Dylan (McClure) was 1-under par, but he made a careless double bogey on his 17th hole and ended up 1-over for the round. Stan (Gautier) and Alex (Gutesha) just didn't play well at all today. Jackson was around 5-over through about the first eight holes, but he brought it all the way back to 2-over. I'm happy to see that. Especially for a freshman, he played pretty solid."
Gilbert also struggled initially, sitting at 1-over through 11 holes played after beginning his round on No. 4, but an eagle on the 572-yard, par-5 15th turned things around. Gilbert knocked a hybrid to within five feet of the hole from 250 yards out in the rough and made the putt to get to red numbers for the day. Gilbert finished as the only player with two eagles in the tournament and also led the field by shooting 7-under on the par-5s for the tournament.
"I played the par-5s well overall," said Gilbert, who finished seventh at the same event in 2010. "There were some birdies I felt I should have had, but at the same time, I had two eagles, so there's nothing wrong with that. I just wanted to stick to my gameplan for the whole tournament because I've played this course a lot. I thought the key was really keeping it in play. I knew the importance of keeping it in play because I knew how well I could score here from the right position."
Kansas will begin its spring season with the University of Wyoming Desert Classic Feb. 22-24 in Palm Desert, Calif.
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