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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Keegan

Newest KU golfer has Olympic-sized hopes

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The excitement that has swept across Kansas University generated by Diamond Dixon’s Olympic gold medal in the 4x400 relay inspires the question who else on campus might participate in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro?

An early prediction: Stan Gautier.

Who? If Gautier recaptures the magic he had working for him four years ago, the day soon will arrive when nobody will be asking that question.

A native of Paris, France, Gautier is a sophomore transfer from Arizona State, where he played for Tim Mickelson, Phil’s brother. At the age of 15, he won the French national amateur championship, the same year he won the Under-16 European championship. He was on the European Junior Ryder Cup team.

Gautier started attending the Hank Haney Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., at the age of “11 or 12,” making annual trips for lengthy stays at the academy. That’s where he met his swing coach of the last seven years, Josh Nahm, formerly a top instructor of Haney’s. Hired by former long-time Alvamar pro Randy Towner, Nahm now instructs at Firekeeper, the beautiful nature hike of a golf experience in Mayetta, across the street from the Prairie Band Casino.

New KU golf coach Jamie Bermel can thank the school’s women’s coach, Erin O’Neil for having Gautier, all 5-feet-9 inches and 132 pounds of him, on his team. O’Neil hired Gautier’s swing coach’s wife, Katy Nahm, to be her assistant. Having the chance to work with his personal swing coach was what motivated Gautier to transfer to KU.

“He was probably the No. 1 junior in the world,” Josh Nahm said. “They have a federation so it’s not like here where golf is basically individual. They moved him into the adult federation and had him traveling all over the world at the age of 15, 16 and basically just burned him out.”

His mother noticed her son’s passion for his passion had left him, so she decided to have him spend a year at the Hank Haney Academy, where he had spent month-long stretches a few times a year.

Nahm called him the “hardest worker I’ve ever seen.”

“I met him seven years ago and I did not like him at all at the beginning,” Gautier said. “I hated him. I had another coach and I liked him and he showed up and

I was like, ‘Why do I have to change coaches? I don’t want to change coaches.’ He was so big. I wasn’t sure I was going to like him. After a week of working with him, I knew I never was going to have another coach.”

Gautier said he thought he would enjoy the climate in Arizona in comparison to his much colder hometown of Paris. For competitive reasons, he didn’t.

“When you don’t work when it’s perfect weather, you feel bad about yourself,” he said. “And here, when it’s cold, and you work hard and you’re by yourself, you feel good about yourself. When you play well in the cold you get more confidence out of it.”

Gautier manages to hammer consistent 280-yard drives out of his slight frame.

“He’s the worst putter I’ve ever seen, until you have a competition,” Nahm said. “Then he makes everything.”

Gautier stated representing France in the 2016 Olympics is a goal.

“We have some good players coming,” he said of France. “I’m going to have to get a lot better.”

And he’ll have to do it on American fare.

“I like the food here,” he said, then paused and smiled. “But not as much as back home.”

Comments

jhox 7 years, 2 months ago

Someone needs to take him to Oklahoma Joes, so his misconceptions about French food being better than American food can be corrected.

Gary McCullough 7 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps you should try real French cuisine before making that statement.

jhox 7 years, 2 months ago

Been there, done that, DrJHawk. Have to be honest and say Okie Joes blows away any food I had in Paris. It may not look fancy, they may not have white table cloths, and the food may not be over priced. Take the snob factor out of the equation, and just consider the food and I'll take Okie Joes every time.

Horace 7 years, 2 months ago

Maybe he like paying 60 dollars for an 10 ounce strip steak with fries and 5 dollars for a can of Coke.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 2 months ago

Golf??? Golf??? Golf is not a sport. Sure, it has a ball and you keep score but to qualify as a sport, the ball has to be moving. Golf is an outdoor exercise.:

  • No one gets dirty
  • Everybody wears long pants
  • Complete silence is required [God, just for one "Happy Gilmore" on the tour!!!]
  • Wussie terminology like "par" and "birdie" with the worst conditions being "on the beach" or "in the water".
  • No Shirts and Skins
  • Really, really old guys and gals can play it.

My handicap is 18...which means I lose about 18 balls per one round!!

KGphoto 7 years, 2 months ago

Correct! It's a leisure activity. Not a sport.

And how the bejezus did golf get into the olympics? Somebody needs to explain to me why they got rid of baseball, and kept golf... oh and rhythmic gymnastics! OMG don't get me started.

gchawk 7 years, 2 months ago

"No one gets dirty"? You, my friend, have never seen me play. In fact, I've decided that the way I play golf, I think I like work better.

Gil Ek 7 years, 2 months ago

Give him one "Wang Burger" and he'll try and play for the U.S.A.

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