The Big 12 Championships
Whispering Pines Golf Club
Dates: April 29-May 1
Total Holes: 54
Format: 18 holes will be played all three days. On Friday, K-State is the No. 8 seed and will tee off with No. 7 Baylor and No. 9 Missouri at 8:50 a.m. on hole No. 1. For the second and third rounds, pairings will be based on results from the previous round.
The Field: (12) Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
The Big 12 Championships Lineup
Name Yr-Exp Rnds Avg
Matt Van Cleave Sr-2L 33 72.42
Ben Kern Jr-2L 33 74.00
Nick Schumacher Sr-1L 24 74.79
Jonathan James Jr-2L 21 76.04
Tyler Cummins Jr-TR 30 75.70
Setting the Scene
The Kansas State men’s golf team will begin postseason play April 29-May 1 in Trinity, Texas at the Big 12 Championships. The 54-hole event will be held over three days with 18 holes being played each day. In the nine-year history of the Big 12 Conference, this will mark only the second time that the tournament will be held somewhere other than Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. In 2003, the event was staged at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., before returning to Prairie Dunes in 2004. K-State finished fourth last year, its best conference finish since placing third in 1965.
As voted on by Big 12 coaches, K-State was selected as the eighth seed for the Big 12 Championships. The Wildcats are paired with No. 7 Baylor and No. 9 Missouri. Last year, the Wildcats entered as the No. 5 seed. Oklahoma State is the favorite to win its fourth Big 12 Championship followed by Texas, as the Longhorns are in pursuit of their fourth consecutive championship.
Big 12 Coaches Poll
1. Oklahoma State
3. Texas Tech
6. Texas A&M
11. Iowa State
Whispering Pines Golf Course in Trinity, Texas is hosting the ninth Big 12 Men’s Golf Championships. The par-72, 7,330-yard championship course, is rated as the third-best golf course in the state of Texas by Golf Digest. The layout is easily the longest in the nine-year history of conference championships. All eight of the previous conference championships have been played on layouts under 7,000 yards. The 7,330-yard course is the longest the Wildcats have played on since hosting the 2003 NCAA Central Regional at Colbert Hills, where the yardage was 7,525 yards. The longest course K-State has played this season was the 7,255-yard Inverness Club to open the season. Whispering Pines is a private club that is located approximately 88 miles north of Houston.
Since head coach Tim Norris took over the reigns prior to the 1997-98 season, the Wildcats have made a steady march up the Big 12 standings. In his first season at the helm, Norris finished last in the Big 12, but since then, the Wildcats have improved or matched its finish from the previous year for six straight years.
K-State at the Big 12
Year Score Finish
1997 917 7th
1998 967 12th
1999 910 10th
2000 905 10th
2001 941 8th
2002 885 7th
2003 927 t6th
2004 881 4th
First Day Pairings
8:00 a.m.: #1 Oklahoma State, #2. Texas, #3. Texas Tech
8:50 a.m.: #7 Baylor, #8 Kansas State, #9 Missouri
8:00 a.m.: #4 Kansas, #5 Oklahoma, #6 Texas A&M
8:50 a.m.: #10 Colorado, #11 Iowa State, #12 Nebraska
Last Time Out
The Wildcats posted a strong finish to close the regular season docket, as they finished fourth in the 15-team FirstEnergy Intercollegiate. The Wildcats earned their sixth top-five finish of the season, which is tied for second most in school history. K-State carded a combined team score of 887 (303-289-295), two strokes behind second-place Penn State (885). Toledo won the event by five strokes over Ball State with a team score of 283-293-292868. Senior Matt Van Cleave paced the Wildcats, as he finished in fifth with a 75-69-73217 (+1). Van Cleave led the way for the Wildcats for the seventh consecutive tournament and earned his seventh straight top-15 finish. Senior Nick Schumacher picked up his fourth top-20 finish of the spring, as he carded a 79-70-74223 (+7) and tied for 12th. Junior Jonathan James garnered his second-career top-20 finish, as he shot a 9-over 225 and tied for 18th. Freshman Kyle Yonke shot a 232 (+16) and tied for 46th. Junior Ben Kern tied for 49th with a 233 (+17).
In the poll released April 24th by Golfweek/Sagarin, the Wildcats are ranked 72nd. GolfStat has K-State ranked 65th in its poll released April 19th.
The conference is as strong as ever entering the tournament, as seven of the 12 schools are ranked in the top 50 of the latest Golfweek/Sagarin poll. Oklahoma State enters the event as the favorite and the No. 1 team in the country. The other teams ranked in the top 50 are No. 19 Texas, No. 25 Texas Tech, No. 33 Kansas, No. 34 Oklahoma, No. 36 Texas A&M and No. 44 Baylor. Outside the top 50 are Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa State. K-State owns a record of 6-5-1 against the Big 12 this season.
For the fifth time this year, but for the first time since the Dick Wittcoff/USF Invitational, head coach Tim Norris will use a lineup comprised of seniors Nick Schumacher and Matt Van Cleave and juniors Tyler Cummins, Jonathan James and Ben Kern. Norris has used six different lineups this season, but this is the only lineup that has been used more than twice. The one consistent throughout all six lineups has been the presence of Kern and Van Cleave, as the duo has participated in all 11 events. Van Cleave will be making his 30th straight start and 35th of his career. Kern has placed among the Wildcats’ top-two finishers in 15 of 22 career events. Schumacher has garnered four top-15 finishes in six events this spring and has participated in eight consecutive events. James was reinserted into the lineup at the FirstEnergy Intercollegiate for the first time since March 4-6 at the Dick Wittcoff/USF Invitational. Cummins has participated in 10 of 11 events, only missing the season-ending FirstEnergy Intercollegiate.
Etching His Name
Matt Van Cleave is piecing together one of the most successful seasons in K-State history. The Maryville, Mo., product is currently on pace to set new stroke average records at K-State for both a season and career. Currently, Aaron Watkins (2001-04) owns both marks with a career average of 74.30 and a single-season mark of 73.34 during his 2002-03 campaign. For the season, Van Cleave has a stroke average of 72.42 and is on track to surpass Watkins’ average of 73.34 by almost a full stroke. For his career, Van Cleave owns a stroke average of 74.09. Van Cleave has two career victories, which is tied with four other golfers for second most in school history. One of his victories came this year at the Matlock Invitational, as he carded a 4-under 212. He also just missed a victory at the Kansas Invitational, where he fell in a playoff. He has finished in the top 15 in seven straight tournaments. Even more impressively, he has finished in the top five three of the last four and four of the six spring tournaments.
2004 Big 12 Championships
K-State earned its best-ever finish in the Big 12 last season, finishing in fourth. The Wildcats had three players finish among the top 15 individuals and the Wildcats combined to shoot a team total of 881 (290-289-302). The tournament was held at the par-70, 6,596-yard Prairie Dunes Country Club. After 36 holes, the Wildcats were in third, but Oklahoma carded a 3-over 283 - the lowest round of the event - in the final round and slid past K-State and Oklahoma State to finish second behind Texas. Texas won its third consecutive Big 12 Championship and fourth ever, posting an 864 for a six-stroke victory over the Sooners. Aaron Watkins paced the Wildcats, as he tied for sixth with a 70-71-75216. Matt Van Cleave tied for ninth with a 76-70-73219. A.J. Elgert was the final Wildcat who finished in the top 15, as he carded a 69-74-78221 and tied for 13th. After finishing second in 2003, Texas’ Jason Hartwick won medalist honors with a 6-under 204.
The Lone Star Homecoming
Jonathan James and Nick Schumacher are both natives of Texas. James is from Keller, Texas, which is four hours away from Trinity. Schumacher hails from Lubbock, Texas, which is a mere nine-hour drive from Trinity. For James, this will be only his second trip to Texas as a Wildcat. He tied for 47th at the 2003 Rice Intercollegiate. Schumacher is making his first trip to Texas.