LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s golf signee Chase Hanna wasn’t necessarily trying to make a statement Thursday, but with an eight-stroke win at the Kansas Junior Amateur Championship he used his clubs to announce he was still the best junior golfer in the state and that he wouldn’t be defined by a single stretch of 18 holes.
Hanna, a Leawood, Kan., native who will be a freshman at KU in the fall, posted the largest margin of victory in the 54-year history of the event, shooting 66-68-76—210 (-6) on the par-72 Quail Ridge Golf Course in Winfield, Kan. Five golfers matched or shot better than Hanna over the final 18 holes, but the Shawnee Mission East graduate had built enough of a cushion over the first two rounds to eliminate the chance of one round making the difference. That wasn’t a luxury the top-ranked golfer could afford at the one-take Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Class 6A State Championship where he finished eighth with a 76 at the end of May.
“I’ve always wanted to win this tournament,” Hanna said. “It’s always been the state tournament, in my opinion, because of Kansas’ one-day high school state tournament format. There have been a ton of great players who have won and it’s a tournament that all of us in Kansas want to win. It’s definitely a very special feeling.”
Hanna, part of a six-man recruiting class set to arrive in Lawrence in August for Bermel’s second season as the leader of the Jayhawks, shot an opening-round 66 despite windy conditions that pushed the average score for the field above 83. Golfers at Quail Ridge piled up 835 bogeys in the opening round, but none of them belonged to Hanna.
“I hit 16 greens in the first round, and controlled it off the tee,” Hanna said. “I just never really got myself into very much trouble and when I did I was able to get up and down. It felt awesome. I had six birdies, no bogeys and played solid from there.”
He continued his success into the second round and was 12-under for the tournament through 46 holes before stumbling a bit through the final holes. The foundation was laid however, and Hanna clinched a spot in the Kansas Amateur Championship.
“I played exceptional to that point and probably just got a little lackadaisical to be honest,” Hanna said of the home stretch.
The win was certainly noticed by Bermel, who’s charged replacing his top scorer from last season and with rebuilding the Kansas men’s program into a perennial conference contender.
“It’s a nice win for Chase – a good way to close out his junior career,” Bermel said. “I don’t think he had performed as well has he’d hoped at the high school tournament, so I think he had a little edge to him this week. He obviously didn’t play as well the last day as he did the first day, but I think the lead played a little bit into his mindset. It’s a great win for him, and a great win for our program.”
Hanna will look to carry the momentum into the 2013 Western Junior Championship (June 17-21) at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis. The oldest national junior tournament in the United States, the Western Junior features 156 of the top junior players in the country and from around the world matching skills over four rounds. Former participants include a who’s who of professional golf, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Fred Couples.