May 13, 2003
2003 NCAA Men's Central Regional Golf Championships
Dates: May 15-17
Complete K-State NCAA Central Regional Notes in PDF Format
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The Field: Kansas State, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Minnesota, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Northwestern, SMU, Baylor, Tulsa, Kentucky, Lamar, Toledo, Michigan State, Wichita State, North Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Kent State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Missouri,
Wildcats Return to NCAA Tourney
After a 10-year absence from the NCAA tournament, the Kansas State men's golf team returns to compete in the NCAA Central Regional on its home turf. K-State will play host to the 54-hole tournament on the par-72, 7,228-yard Colbert Hills Golf Course.
Tee times begin at 7:12 a.m., with the final group slated for 1:21 p.m. As the Regional's No. 26 seed, Kansas State will start from the No. 10 tee on Thursday with times from 7:57 to 8:33 a.m., and from the No. 1 tee on Friday with times from 12:36 to 1:12 p.m.
The Central Regional is one of three tournaments being contested to determine the field for the 2003 Men's Golf Championships, May 27-30 at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. The low 10 teams and the low two individuals not on those teams will advance.
The Wildcats will enjoy the advantage of playing on their home course in the NCAA Central Regional. K-State has won four of the five tournaments it has hosted at Colbert Hills since the course in opened in May of 2000. Junior Aaron Watkins has also earned medalist honors in both tournaments hosted at the course this year.
A Look at the Field
The Central Regional field contains nine teams ranked in the top 25 in both the Golfweek/Sagarin Poll and the GCAA/Precept Coaches Poll. Texas, fresh off of its win at the Big 12 Championship, is the top-ranked team in the field, coming in at No. 3 in both polls. Kansas State is ranked No. 55 by Golweek/Sagarin and received 18 votes in the latest GCAA/Precept poll. Aaron Watkins is the Wildcats' top-ranked individual at No. 70 in the country.
Big 12 Recap
The Wildcats got off to a roaring start at the Big 12 Championship, carding a 305-302=607 to sit in fourth after 36 holes. Leading the charge for K-State was sophomore Matt Van Cleave. During the first round he posted the team's best score of the day with a 72, highlighting the round with a hole in one to sit in second place after day one.
Southern Hills Country Club proved difficult for the 'Cats on day two, as they slipped into a tie for sixth with Colorado. But the Wildcats' tie for sixth still marked their best finish ever in a Big 12 Championship. Van Cleave was K-State's top finisher in the tournament, tying for 16th with a 230.
Junior Aaron Watkins was named to the All-Big 12 Conference Men's Golf Team as voted on by the league's head coaches. Waktins is the first K-State golfer to be named to the All-Big 12 Conference Team since the league's establishment in 1997.
Watkins along with teammate Greg Douglas earned First Team Academic All-Big 12 Honors. The two were both first-time selections to the team, which consisted of 23 student athletes who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA.
Recapping the 2002 Central Regional
When the bids were announced for the NCAA Regionals were announced in May 2002, the K-State found themselves just short for the second year in a row.
However, Aaron Watkins earned a berth in the NCAAs and became the first Wildcat to play in the tournament since 1995. Watkins shot rounds of 78-73-78=229 on Ohio State's Scarlet Golf Course to tie for 85th at 13-over-par.
Oklahoma State and Purdue tied for first at 865, with Purdue's Lee Williamson capturing medalist honors with a 7-under-par 209.
Watkins Working Wonders
After a stellar 2002 summer Aaron Watkins continued his success on the golf course throughout the 2002-03 season. The junior co-captain ranked as high as the No. 12/No. 28 individual in the country in the Sagarin/GolfStat Rankings in October after capturing his first collegiate medalist title at the Jim Colbert Intercollegiate. In addition, Watkins tied his own individual three-round record of 210 at the Purina Classic. The Mesa, Ariz., native leads the team in stroke average at 73.34 and in top 20 finishes with nine on the year.
Rewriting the Record Books
The Wildcats had three tournament team scores that made the top 10 in the K-State record books. The Wildcats' score of 869 at the Border Olympics tied for the second all-time best score. The team's pair of 872s at the Purina Classic and the Stevinson Ranch Invitational were their seventh best ever.
Two individual three-round records made the top 10 as well. Aaron Watkins score of 210 at the Purina tournament tied for first for individual three round tournaments and A.J. Elgert's 214 at the Baylor Invitational tied for 10th.
K-State's lineup has received a boost from Fargo, N.D., freshman Josh Persons. Persons has participated in every tournament this season for the Wildcats, capturing five top-20 finishes along the way.
Person's posted a carrer-best 215 (70-73-72) at the Stevinson Ranch Invitational (3/24-25/03) to claim fourth place. Person's fourth-place finish was the best by a freshman in a full tournament since A.J. Elgert's tie for 3rd at the 2000 Jim Colbert Intercollegiate.
Colbert Hills Golf Course opened in May of 2000, and is now often referred to as the crown jewel of Manhattan. It is rated the toughest golf course in Kansas and is a PGA Tour Licensed Preferred Collegiate Golf Course. In addition to this week's NCAA Regional, the course also played host to the women's 2002 Big 12 Championship.
Kansas Gov. Bill Graves and Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer issued a proclamation in 2000 honoring K-State graduate Jim Colbert for his vision in designing and developing Colbert Hills Golf Course, declaring May 3 as Colbert Hills Golf Course Day in Kansas.
After participating in just three tournaments as an individual during the 2001-02 season, junior Greg Douglas has become a key player for the Wildcats this season. Douglas has played in every tournament this season for K-State with the team's second-best stroke average of 75.45, bettering last year's average of 78.38 The Cooper, Texas, native had four top-20 finishes during the fall season, his best at the Inverness Intercollegiate Invitational, where he led the team with a seventh-place showing.
Head Coach Tim Norris
Tim Norris is in his sixth season as the Kansas State men's golf coach. The former head coach at Texas-El Paso was the man for the job when K-State went looking for a successful leader to guide the Wildcats to the next level of collegiate golf.
Norris was hired on Aug. 1, 1997, after an extensive nationwide search. In the former PGA Tour professional, K-State found a person with considerable experience as both a player and coach.
Under Norris, the K-State program has risen from the bottom of the Big 12 Conference to one that is now challenging many of the nationally established programs for a place in the upper echelon of the league standings.