Courtesy: KU Athletics
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – With a storybook ending to his final Big 12 Championship, senior Chase Hanna finished at the top of the individual leaderboard, leading Kansas men’s golf to a third-place finish, the highest by the Jayhawks since 2000.
“It was a struggle out there,” head coach Jamie Bermel said. “Not that we struggled, but it was so hard to play. It was cold and windy and the pins were tough. Hats off to my guys, they really played well. I’m really impressed with the way the team responded, unfortunately it was just a few to short.”
Taking advantage of a difficult Prairie Dunes Golf Course, Hanna collected 14 total birdies, the second most by any golfer in the field. Hanna started the day solid, playing his first seven holes at 1-under par before four bogeys in five holes slowed his momentum. In dramatic Hanna fashion, he refused to quit, collecting back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 before a bogey on 15. Hanna continued his fight, posting back-to-back birdies for a second time on 16 and 17. Despite an approach on 18 that rolled off the back of the green, Hanna chipped on and sunk a 10-foot par putt to enter the clubhouse tied for the lead.
With Texas’ Scottie Scheffler, who won the Big 12 Championship in 2015, still on the course and tied for the lead, Hanna was forced to wait. After a bogey on 16 by Scheffler, Hanna took the outright lead. The feeling didn’t last long as Scheffler birdied 17, tying for the lead with Hanna once again. As a 11-foot-par putt from Scheffler rolled past the hole on 18, Jayhawk pride resonated throughout the clubhouse as Hanna became the outright 2017 Big 12 Champion.
“It was a fun day,” Hanna said. “I played solid golf. My big goal was just to not post a double bogey because that is what has killed me the last couple of days. It is a tournament that we always look forward to every year and to come out on top is pretty fun.”
This marks the first time that a Kansas individual has won a conference title since the late Slade Adams who tied for first in the 1995 Big 8 Championship. It is also the first time that a Jayhawk has won an individual conference championship outright since Matt Gogel won the 1991 Big 8 title.
“He is a warrior,” Bermel said about the champ. “He’s one of those guys who can just smell the finish line, so to speak. He kept grinding and finally pulled it off. Seniors are supposed to play well and he certainly did. I’m very happy for the way he finished his last Big 12.”
Junior Daniel Sutton also had a great event, receiving Big 12 All-Tournament honors after his tie-for-ninth finish in his first ever Big 12 Championship. Recording a birdie on the second hole, a string of bogeys resulted in a 5-over final round for Sutton, who was one of two Jayhawks to play both of his rounds on Tuesday at even par or better. Bringing reliability week after week, Sutton has placed inside of the top-10 two times this season.
Responding to a long 36-hole Tuesday, junior Daniel Hudson was one of three players in the 50-golfer field to post his final round at even par. Executing disciplined golf, Hudson played his front nine at even par, with one bogey and one birdie. After a bogey on his 13th, Hudson approached his final few holes at 1-over par, before dropping a birdie putt on the 17th to post a 70. Hudson’s tie for 13th marks his third-straight finish inside of the top-20.
Recording his second straight 3-over-par round, sophomore Charlie Hillier finished the event at 21-over par to finish in a tie for 25th. Hillier played his front nine at two over par, playing the back the same until a birdie on the par-4 18th resulted in a 73.
Freshman Andy Spencer finished the final round with a 5-over-par 75, ending the first Big 12 Championship of his career in a tie for 31st.
The Jayhawks trailed winner Texas by four strokes and second-place Oklahoma State by three strokes. Kansas was 10 strokes better than any other team on the day, earning victories over No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 13 Oklahoma and No. 4 Baylor.