By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
A challenging field featuring nine schools will tee off Monday in the 2013 Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship. The event will take place in Hutchinson, Kan., at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
Six of the nine schools are ranked among the top 50 in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, including No. 3 Texas, No. 6 TCU and No. 14 Oklahoma State.
The golfers will play 36 holes Monday, 18 on Tuesday and 18 on Wednesday. Texas, the defending national champion, is the No. 1 seed. TCU is the No. 2 seed followed by No. 3 seed Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Texas Tech, No. 6 Baylor, No. 7 Iowa State, No. 8 Kansas and No. 9 Kansas State.
The Bears are on track to receive their 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, extending one of the nation’s longest streaks for postseason appearances. Baylor has seven top-five finishes in 11 tournaments, including three finishes of third or better. Four sophomores anchor the lineup, including Kyle Jones who has had five top 15 finishes on the year.
The Cyclones hope a strong Big 12 showing will bolster their chances of second consecutive NCAA Regional invitation. Iowa State made its first NCAA appearance in 13 seasons last year. Iowa State finished seventh out of 20 teams at the ASU Thunderbird April 5-7. ISU boasts one of the nation’s best golfers in Scott Fernandez. The Hogan Award Watch List member is ranked fifth nationally by Golfstat and has placed in the top-three in six of seven tournaments he’s competed in this season. Fernandez currently owns a 70.86 stroke average.
The Jayhawks are coming off a win in the Hawkeye Invitational and have finished in the top half of the field in their last four tournaments under first-year coach Jamie Bermel. Kansas is led by a trio of solid golfers – senior Chris Gilbert, senior Alex Gutesha and sophomore Stan Gautier. Kansas finished last in the Big 12 Championship but the Jayhawks’ overall scoring average has improved by nearly 10 strokes from a year ago.
The Wildcats' scoring lineup will consist of seniors Ben Juffer and Curtis Yonke, junior Daniel Wood, sophomore Kyle Weldon and freshman Matt Green. Juffer will look to use his experience to lead K-State into action, as he has played in every event this season and has competed in the Big 12 Championship for the last three years. Yonke leads the team in stroke average (72.57) and top-20 finishes (five). Like Juffer, Yonke will be playing in his fourth consecutive Big 12 Championship, with his best finish coming in 2010, where he tied for 15th place.
In 10 tournaments, the Sooners have finished in the top five four times. The Sooners have recorded three second-place showings and also won the UTSA/Oak Hills Invitational in February to open the spring season. Senior Will Kropp leads the team with a 72.50 scoring average and has posted two top-five individual finishes. Fellow senior Abraham Ancer and junior Michael Schoolcraft have also each logged a pair of top-five performances.
The Cowboys have won Big 12 team titles and have eight individual crowns. Two Oklaahoma State golfers enter the Big 12 Championship ranked in the top 50 nationally with freshman Jordan Niebrugge (No. 37) and junior Talor Gooch (49.) lead the charge for the 14th-ranked Cowboys. Niebrugge has two runner-up finishes on the year, while Gooch has one second-place showing to his credit.
The Horned Frogs enter their first Big 12 Championship riding the wave of one of the finest seasons in program history, having climbed as high as No. 7 in the national rankings thanks to a sensational spring campaign. Sophomore All-American Julien Brun leads a Horned Frogs lineup that features all five golfers among the top 120 of the Golfweek/Sagarin national rankings. Brun has climbed as high as No. 2 in the Golfstat Cup national rating system this spring.
A trio of veteran Longhorns is set to anchor the team at the Big 12 Championship with the goal of improving on last year’s second-place finish. Seniors Cody Gribble and Julio Vegas, along with junior Toni Hakula, will each be making their third appearances in the conference championship. Brandon Stone, the only freshman to be named a 2013 Ben Hogan Award semifinalist, will compete in the Longhorns’ No. 1 position while making his debut in the event.
A second place finish at last week's Morris Williams Invitational in Austin most likely propelled the Red Raiders to their 12th consecutive NCAA Regional bid. The men'g golf team currently holds the longest active postseason streak on campus at 11 consecutive years. The Red Raiders are led by senior Finley Ewing IV who earned his first collegiate win by taking home medalist honors at the Morris Williams Invitational. Ewing has six top five finishes this season.