Mason Rudolph Championship
Roper’s Knob Course at Vanderbilt Legends Club
Dates: Sept. 27-28
Total Holes: 54
Format: 36 holes Monday beginning with a shotgun start at 7:00 a.m. and 18 holes Tuesday beginning with a 7:00 a.m. shotgun start.
The Field: (15) Kansas State, Alabama, Alabama-Birmingham, Central Florida, College of Charleston, Florida State, Georgia State, LSU, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi, North Carolina-Wilmington, North Florida, SMU, Virginia, Vanderbilt.
The Mason Rudolph Lineup
Name Yr-Exp Rnds Avg Matt Van Cleave Sr-2L 6 72.16 Tyler Cummin Jr-TR 6 76.50 Kyle Yonke Fr-HS 3 73.66 Ben Kern Jr-2L 6 74.50 Clay Hodge Fr-HS 6 75.83
Setting the Scene
The Kansas State men’s golf team heads to Nashville, Tenn., for its third tournament of the fall. K-State is coming off a second-place finish at the Kansas Invitational and will be making its first-ever appearance at the Mason Rudolph Championship, Sept. 27-28. The Wildcats will look to tame the par-72, 6,990-yard Roper’s Knob Course at the Vanderbilt Legends Club. The trip marks K-State’s first appearance in the state of Tennessee since appearing in the Vanderbilt-Durango Boot-Music City Intercollegiate in 1991.
The 15-team field consists of stiff competition for the Wildcats. K-State has already faced Alabama-Birmingham and Central Florida at the Inverness Intercollegiate. Central Florida got the best of the Wildcats, but Alabama-Birmingham finished 11 strokes behind K-State. Including the Wildcats, eight of the 15 teams are ranked in the top 50 of the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin poll. The teams that are ranked are: No.7 LSU, No. 10 Alabama, No. 12 Virginia, No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 24 Central Florida, No. 30 Florida State, No. 41 Georgia State. Not to be overlooked are SMU and Vanderbilt, which both entered the 2004-05 season ranked in the top 25 of the preseason Golfworld Coaches’ Poll. Vanderbilt checked in at No. 21, while SMU was No. 25.
The Wildcats will bring a new look to the Mason Rudolph Championship with freshman Kyle Yonke replacing junior Jonathan James. Yonke made his debut with a 17th-place showing as an individual at the KU Invitational, but will be making his first appearance in the top five. The other four Wildcats in the lineup remain unchanged. Senior Matt Van Cleave with his two top 10s will anchor the squad alongside juniors Tyler Cummins and Ben Kern and freshman Clay Hodge.
Youth is Served
When freshmen Clay Hodge and Kyle Yonke take the course Sept. 20th, it will mark the first time since the 2003 Roadrunner Intercollegiate, that Wildcats will have two freshman in their top five. Appearing as freshman at the Roadrunner Intercollegiate were Ben Kern and Josh Persons. The two appeared together in just two tournaments for the year.
Another Top Five
With the second-place showing at the KU Invitational, the Wildcats have now finished in the top five in nine of the last 14 tournaments. Last season, the Wildcats began with a streak of six consecutive top-five finishes.
K-State began the 2004-05 season ranked No. 36 in the golfweek/Sagarin preseason poll released Sept. 8. After a slow start at the Inverness Intercollegiate, K-State fell all the way to No. 97 in the poll released Sept. 15. This week, the Wildcats redeemed themselves with a second-place showing at the KU Invitational, and vaulted to No. 39 in the most recent poll released Sept. 22.
Last Time Out
K-State got back on track with a second-place finish after finishing ninth to open the year at the Inverness Intercollegiate. Appearing for the first time in the KU invitational since 1999, the Wildcats matched their best-ever finish in their previous 16 appearances at the KU Invitational dating back to 1969. K-State also tied for second at the 1992 KU Invitational. Senior Matt Van Cleave put together another scintillating performance. The Maryville, Mo., product tied for the tournament title at 4-under par (212) with Kansas’ Kevin Ward and needed to go to a playoff to decide who would take medalist honors. Both Van Cleave and Ward matched each other on the first playoff hole before Van Cleave dropped the second playoff hole to Ward. The second-place finish for Van Cleave was the second best of his career, topped only by his victory at the 2003 Purina Classic. Junior Tyler Cummins rebounded from his disappointing debut at the Inverness, and tied for seventh at the KU Invitational. Playing as an individual, freshman Kyle Yonke tied for 17th with a 221. Junior Ben Kern tied for 23rd, while freshman Clay Hodge came in 34th and junior Jonathan James tied for 42nd.