Wichita State’s men’s golf team won the Shocker Classic by 16 strokes, which made coach Grier Jones feel better about his team. Better, but not satisfied.
“Everybody competed hard, but I had an eerie feeling,” Jones said. “I see some rust. After coming out of the summer, you shouldn’t be rusty.”
The Shockers, defending champions, built a five-stroke lead during two rounds Monday, taking advantage of beautiful weather and soft greens. On Tuesday, scores rose and WSU handled the wind better than any team to card a 284 and finished with an 18-under-par 834. Kansas State, in third place entering Tuesday, shot 293 to finish second with an 850. WSU’s Rafael Becker and Julian Taylor of William Woods (Mo.) shared medalist honors with an 8-under-par 205. Taylor, a sophomore, was named the NAIA’s top freshman in 2012. Kansas State’s Matt Green, golfing as an individual, shot a 206 to finish third.
Three Shockers finished in the top 10 and Chandler Rusk, as an individual, and Tyler Gann were part of a five-way tie for 11th.
“I’m hoping they see that ‘Geez, I wasn’t quite as sharp as I felt like I should be,’ ” Jones said. “It’s kind of like grub worms. They’re eating on your greens and you look out and the greens look beautiful. Then one day, they’re dead. That’s kind of what happens in golf. All of a sudden, you just don’t shoot the same scores you shot.”
Little things caught Jones’ attention. The Shockers didn’t drive the ball as well as he expects, most noticeably on the par-5 No. 4. Becker agrees that Jones has cause for concern. The driving force is that WSU, with its top five back from an NCAA regional team, could be primed for a special season.
“Most of us, we got back not playing our best and we still need to work much harder than we are,” Becker said. “It’s pulling the right way, but everybody needs to work harder.”
Becker avoided the large swings that hurt other golfers. He shot a 68 and 67 on Monday, ending with a 70 Tuesday. That consistency kept him at the top. Taylor ended the tournament with a 66 after carding a 67 and a 72 on Monday.
“If you look at the numbers I didn’t make many putts, but I felt like I putted good,” Becker said. “I didn’t miss any short putts, which is key for me.”
The Shockers finished in 10th with a score of 973. Hollie Weatherburn tied for 36th after carding a 243.