Kansas wins regional, advances to NCAA national championships in men's golf for first time since 2000
When Kansas last advanced beyond the NCAA regionals in men’s golf, President Bill Clinton had recently announced that GPS access would no longer be restricted to just the U.S. military, and the Xbox did not yet exist.
It had been that long, 2000, to be exact. The drought has ended.
The Jayhawks played their way into the NCAA national championships by winning the Pacific Retional in most impressive fashion Wednesday at Spanos Regional Course in Stockton, California.
The top five schools among 13 competing at the regional qualified and Kansas left no doubt from start to finish in the final round that it would be included.
The Jayhawks finished one stroke ahead of Stanford, two ahead of Iowa State and five in front of Alabama. Oregon was in safe position to secure the final spot.
Each school had five golfers competing, but just the four best rounds each day counted toward the team score.
KU’s strong depth proved to the be the difference. All five golfers finished the regional with under-par scores.
KU’s individual finishes and places at the time its last player finished his round: Andy Spencer (-8, T5), Daniel Sutton (-5, T10), Charlie Hillier (-2, T24).Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson both finished the tournament at 1-under.
The national championships take place May 25-30 at Karsten Creek, Oklahoma State’s home course.
Oregon’s Norman Xiong shot a 62 Wednesday and was low medalist at 15-under for the three rounds, edging Stanford’s Brandon Wu (-14).
I filed updates throughout the day, tracking the scores on golfstat.com:
3 p.m.: Andy Spencer, who birdied No. 17 to get back to 2-under on the day and 8-under for the tournament, is KU’s lone remaining player on the course. Daniel Sutton finished at 5-under, Charlie Hillier at 2-under, Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson at 1-under.
2:45 p.m.: Freshman Harry Hillier (-20) finished his third and final round at -1, which also was his score for the tournament and Kansas expanded its lead over second-place Iowa State to three strokes.
2:30 p.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier, the first KU player to complete his round, carded a bogey on No. 18, but still shot a 3-under 69 for the Jayhawks, tied for first with Iowa State at 19-under.
2:15 p.m.: In a remarkable show of depth and consistency, all five Kansas players are under par in today's round. Andy Spencer, Daniel Sutton and Daniel Hudson each have birdied their most recent holes and Charlie and Harry Hillier have gone birdie, par in their most recent two holes. Kansas (-22) is in first place, four strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State.
2 p.m.: How is that Iowa State and Kansas are doing so well in a sport that warm-weather schools tend to dominate?
Kansas coach Jamie Bermel and Cyclones coach Andrew Tank have taken similar paths in building their rosters. Both coaches try to land the best players in their states and then head overseas to recruit tough-minded players.
KU’s five players competing in the regional come from Kansas (Andy Spencer), Illinois (Daniel Hudson), England (Daniel Sutton) and New Zealand (Charlie and Harry Hillier).
Iowa State has two players from Iowa competing, two from New Zealand and one from Australia.
With their five players having anywhere from two to three holes remaining, Kansas stands in first at 21-under, three strokes ahead of Iowa State and Alabama, who are tied for second.
Oregon’s Norman Xiong and Stanford’s Brandon Wu are tied for the individual lead at 12-under and KU’s Andy Spencer is tied for fifth at 8-under.
1:45 p.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier of New Zealand is having a terrific final round in the Pacific Regional at Spanos Regional Course in Stockton, California. Through 16 holes, Hillier had made five birdies and one bogey. His brother Harry is a bomber off the tee, but Charlie’s strength is his exceptional short game. Kansas (-21) has opened a three-stroke lead on second-place Iowa State and is 16 strokes ahead of sixth-place LSU.
1:30 p.m.: On a day when the pressure was greatest, all five Jayhawks have delivered steady rounds and not one is over par. Charlie Hillier is -3 for the day, Daniel Sutton -2, Andy Spencer -1 and Daniel Hudson and Harry Hillier are even par and Kansas remains atop the leaderboard at 19-under, one stroke in front of Iowa State.
1:15 p.m.: KU's impressive performance in the clutch continues and the Jayhawks are back on top at 20-under, two strokes ahead of Iowa State. Senior Daniel Hudson of Birmingham, England, birdied the first three holes of the back nine to move into a tie for eighth at 6-under, two strokes behind sophomore Andy Spencer of Leawood, who is tied for third.
1 p.m.: The Big 12 certainly is flexing its golf muscles in regionals across the country.
Iowa State (-20) leads Kansas by a stroke in the Pacific Regional.
Oklahoma State has an eight-stroke lead at the Columbus Regional and Texas Tech is fifth there.
Texas has a 27-stroke lead in the Raleigh Regional and Baylor is in third at the College Station Regional.
The NCAA Championships will be held from May 25-30 at Karsten Creek, home course of Oklahoma State.
12:45 p.m. The Jayhawks' aren't taking any chances and are delivering clutch performances up and down the lineup. They are tied with Iowa State for first at 19-under, 16 strokes ahead of sixth-place LSU.
Andy Spencer is tied for third at 8-under and all five golfers are tied for 24th or better in a field of 75 golfers.
12:30 p.m.: Kansas sophomore Andy Spencer, the team’s steadiest performer throughout the regional, finished his front nine with consecutive birdies to move into a tie for third place with Iowa State’s Sam Vincent at 8-under. Spencer shot 69-69 the first two rounds.
Kansas, in second place at 18-under, one stroke behind Iowa State, has a 15-stroke lead on sixth-place Colorado.
The regional includes four schools ranked int the top 20 nationally, but it looks as if just two, No. 7 Alabama and No. 18 Stanford, will qualify. No. 6 LSU is in eighth, five strokes out of fifth at even par, and No. 19 Southern California is a stroke behind LSU.
12:15 p.m.: New Zealand has been very, very good to Big 12 schools at the Pacific Regional.
Sam Vincent and Denzel Ieremia of New Zealand are Iowa State's two top scorers. Vincent is in third, Ieremia in fifth on the individual leaderboard, helping the Cyclones to the top of the team standings at 19-under, one stroke ahead of second-place Kansas. Brothers Charlie (tied for 20th) and Harry Hillier (tied for 24th) of New Zealand are competing well for KU.
Midway through the round, Kansas has a 12-stroke cushion on fifth-place Oregon.
Noon: Tied for first with Iowa State at 18-under, KU is 12 strokes ahead of fifth-place Oregon. KU has shown remarkable balance and depth. All five players are under par for the tournament. Andy Spencer is tied for fifth at 6-under. Daniel Sutton (-4) is tied for 11th. Charlie Hillier (-2) is tied for 19th and Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson are tied for 22nd at 1-under.
11:45 a.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier has finished his front nine in 3-under with six pars and three birdies and Kansas is tied with Iowa State at 19-under, 12 strokes in front of fifth-place TCU. Things are looking good.
11:30 a.m.: Harry Hillier, Daniel Sutton and Daniel Hudson all have carded a bogey since the last update and KU has fallen into second place at 16-under and the Jayhawks' lead over fifth-place TCU has dropped from 11 to eight strokes.
11:15 a.m.: The Hillier brothers from New Zealand came to play today. Charlie a junior is 2-under through seven holes. Harry, a freshman, is 2-under through six holes. Kansas sits atop the leaderboard at 19-under, two strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State, and 11 strokes ahead of fifth-place TCU.
11 a.m.: Kansas is off to a blistering start in the third and final round of the Pacific Regional of the NCAA men's golf tournament.
With their five players (only four best count toward team score) having played through anywhere from two to six holes, the Jayhawks are 5-under on the day and in a first-place tie with Iowa State at 18-under.