Wildcats to Play in Dick Wittcoff/USF Invitational
The Dick Wittcoff/USF Invitational
Setting the Scene For the second consecutive tournament, the Kansas State men’s golf team will travel to the Sunshine State March 4-6 for the Dick Witcoff/USF Invitational. This tournament was added to the schedule to replace the Emerald Coast Collegiate, which was to take place March 5-6 in Pensacola, Fla., but had to be canceled due to damage caused by the hurricanes. The USF Invitational will be held at The Claw, which is a par-72, 6,863-yard course located on the campus of South Florida.
The 15-team field consists of four teams that the Wildcats have faced this year. K-State holds a record of 5-1 versus the field. K-State owns an unblemished mark against Francis Marion, Middle Tennessee State, and Tennessee-Chattanooga. K-State has split its two meetings between Florida Southern, with the Mocs winning the Matlock Invitational Feb. 14-15. The rest of the field consists of Austin Peay, Belmont Abbey, Columbus State, DePaul, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Mercer, South Florida and SW Missouri State.
Head coach Tim Norris will use the same lineup at the Dick Witcoff/USF Invitational that he has used in the last three tournaments. The lineup, which consists of seniors Matt Van Cleave and Nick Schumacher, and juniors Tyler Cummins, Jonathan James and Ben Kern, has earned two top-five finishes and a seventh-place finish at the Nelson Invitational. The success of the lineup is evident in the team’s overall record the last three events. The Wildcats have defeated 31 of its opponents, while losing to only 12. Also competing for the Wildcats as an individual will be Kyle Yonke. Yonke participated in two tournaments in the fall and has a stroke average of 74.16.
In the poll released on Feb. 27th by Golfweek/Sagarin, the Wildcats are ranked 65th. GolfStat has K-State ranked 59th in its poll released Feb. 22nd.
Leaving His Mark
Senior Matt Van Cleave is on track to permanently etch his name into the Kansas State record books. The Maryville, Mo., native added one more victory to his resume at K-State, as he tied for first at the Matlock Invitational. With one more victory, Van Cleave will move up the charts into second place with three career victories. Robert Sedorcek (1982-85) owns the Wildcats record for most career victories with five. Van Cleave is currently on pace to tie Aaron Watkins (2001-04) for the lowest career stroke average. Entering this tournament, Van Cleave has a career average of 74.30. His current stroke average of 72.05 would also rank first all time if the season ended today. Aaron Watkins currently owns the edge, as he had a stroke average of 73.34 in 2002-03.
Recapping the Matlock
The Wildcats had a good showing to open the spring docket, as they finished in third. The top-five finish was the third of the year for the Wildcats. For the tournament, K-State fired a team score of 291-298-294883 (+19). Florida Southern carded a final-round score of 5-under par 283 and surpassed both Georgia College and State and K-State for the team title. Individually, Matt Van Cleave notched the second victory of his career as he was co-medalist with Missouri’s Ben Scott. Van Cleave concluded the event with a score of 4-under par 70-71-71212. Fellow senior Nick Schumacher garnered the best finish of his career, as he carded a 73-74-73220 (+4) and tied for 10th. Junior Ben Kern placed 15th with a 71-76-77224 (+8). Juniors Tyler Cummins and Jonathan James finished in a tie for 41st and 62nd, respectively.
A Sunshine State First
The return trip to Florida will mark the first time in the 71-year history of the golf program that K-State will play in two tournaments in the state of Florida in the same year.
After redshirting last season and failing to qualify in the first three events of the fall, senior Nick Schumacher has turned up the dial on his game and has set new career highs in virtually every statistical category. The Lubbock, Texas, product originally set a personal benchmark when he tied for 27th at the Alister MacKenzie, but has since shattered that mark by tying for 10th at the Matlock Invitational. On the season, Schumacher has replaced all of his previous career bests.