Gilbert Among Leaders at Big 12 Championship
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Kansas senior Chris Gilbert shot a first-round best 69 to lead the field after 18 holes and sat in third place before play was suspended near the end of the second round of the Big 12 Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club Monday.
Gilbert was the only player to shoot under par in the opening round on the par-70, 6,759-yard course and helped Kansas to a third-place standing after 18 holes at 9-over 289. The Jayhawks faltered near the end of the second round before play was suspended due to poor weather conditions and dropped into a tie for eighth with Iowa State at 34-over with a hole to play. Texas, which completed all 36 holes before high winds and cold temperatures left six of the nine teams stranded on the course, led all teams with a score of 290-281—571 (+11) and Longhorn golfer Brandon Stone was the individual leader at 3-under 137.
“We were very focused coming into this tournament and were very prepared,” Gilbert said of the first round performance. “We kind of went backwards a little bit there at the end, kind of got a little bad luck, but there’s 37 holes left for most of us and I still think we can turn it around.”
Gilbert proved he wasn’t intimidated by a difficult course, or difficult competition by firing his eighth round this season in the 60s during the tournament’s opening round, including an eagle on par-5 No. 17. He was even-par and in second place through 14 holes before a pair of bogeys, then ended his day on the 17th green when play was suspended for the second time.
“My short game worked well and really carried over from last week,” Gilbert, who tied for the tournament lead a week ago in Iowa said. “I avoided the big number. There were a lot of crucial situations where I could have run into a lot of trouble – which happens out here on this course – but I minimized the big numbers and that was the really the key.”
Alex Gutesha shot a 1-over 71 in the first round and Kansas used scores from Paul Harris (74) and Stan Gautier (75) for the 289 total. Ryley Haas shot an 8-over 78 in the first round.
Play was suspended because of lightning for a little less than an hour during the first round but the sun came out and prompted players and spectators to shed layers. During the final four holes, however, a cold front moved in and winds picked up while temperatures plummeted – resulting in the suspension of play for the day. During that four-hole stretch, Kansas’ five players combined to shoot 18-over par and dropped from the middle of the field to near the bottom. Despite the fall, Kansas was still just seven strokes from fourth-place Baylor (+27), behind Kansas State (+29), Oklahoma (+30), Texas Tech (+31) and tied with Iowa State (+34).
“I was joking late in the second round that this was the quietest this place has ever been, then a couple holes later the wind picked up to about 40 miles-per-hour and the temperature dropped 20 degrees,” Gilbert said. “It was really great weather until the last three holes. We kind of got the wrong end of the tee time, but that happens in golf and it evens out in the end. Hopefully we’ll pick up some shots tomorrow if this weather continues because that’s what we’re used to and can use it to our advantage.”
Play will resume Tuesday with the conclusion of the second round at 11 a.m. The third round of the Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship will tee off at 1 p.m.