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Golf coach Jones frustrated with Shockers’ effort

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Sep. 10, 2012, at 12:21 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, Sep. 10, 2012, at 12:26 a.m.

Shocker Classic

When: Monday (36 holes)-Tuesday (18)

Where: Wichita Country Club

Who: Wichita State, Kansas State, Newman, Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College, Oklahoma Christian, Oklahoma City, Texas Wesleyan, William Woods (Mo.)

Wichita State men’s golf coach Grier Jones fears complacency is afflicting his team. Starting Monday, he will see if that diagnosis is correct.

“I don’t think anybody showed up ready to play,” Jones said. “I get the feeling, especially from the older guys, that they’re just kind of mailing in the qualifying. I don’t see any urgency in this team at all.”

WSU opens its fall season in the Shocker Classic at Wichita Country Club on Monday. With his top five golfers returning, Jones should be preparing one of his best teams. Maybe he is — the Shockers won six tournaments in 2011-12, including an 18-stroke victory in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship, and advanced to an NCAA regional. Golf World ranks seniors Rafael Becker and Hunter Sparks among the nation’s top 50 players.

So perhaps this team is talented enough to turn it on in tournaments. Perhaps Jones, well-known for always demanding more work, is sending a message and pushing a team with the potential to be special. This week’s tournament isn’t a real test — Kansas State is the only other NCAA Division I school entered. Coming up, however, are stronger fields and unfamiliar courses. Jones bumped up the schedule strength, figuring his juniors and seniors could handle it.

He acts as if he is not sure.

Becker, the 2012 MVC Golfer of the Year, dominated qualifying. Sparks, Tyler Gann, Calvin Pearson and 2012 MVC Newcomer of the Year Louis Cohen Boyer finished behind him to repeat last season’s top five. Pushing them is Texas Tech transfer Chandler Rusk, who tied for fourth in the 2011 Big 12 Championships.

“Those guys bought in last year, every one of them,” Jones said. “This year, I don’t see that. You get that with a lot of seniors. They’re a little bored, and it’s understandable. They let up.”

Jones’ concern is that poor work habits in August and early September will cost the Shockers down the road. He is also telling his players — many of whom want to play professionally — that wasted preparation time will kill them after college.

“I’ve had several meetings, we’ve had several talks and I’m not making much progress,” he said. “I hope it changes. It’s always been my belief that if you haven’t prepared as well as you can, then the boat starts to leak when it gets a little rough.”

Check Paul Suellentrop’s Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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