Veterans Stewart, Roberts take top seed

Make way for the “old guys.”

OK, at 27 and 30, Andy Stewart and Conrad Roberts aren’t ready to join AARP just yet, but compared to their competition made primarily of collegians, the two have quite a few years of experience.

And those extra years just might be what helps them win the Kansas Golf Assn. Four-Ball championship this weekend at Alvamar Golf Course.

Stewart and Roberts top the field as the No. 1 seed going into today’s first round of match play after shooting another 65 for a two-day qualifying total of 130.

Behind them: a horde of college golfers mostly from Kansas University and Wichita State.

Before the event began Tuesday, KU golf coach Ross Randall called the team of Stewart and Roberts — both former Jayhawk golfers — his dark horse of the tournament.

“My forecast was pretty good, and they gave me some grief today about calling them old guys,” Randall said, “but they’re both still really competitive.”

Current KU golfer Pete Krnisch, along with brother Joe, the No. 2 seed at 131, made the same claim.

“I saw them in the pairings, and I knew they would be tough even though they don’t play every day,” Pete Krnisch said.

Dark horse?

Stewart is a three-time champion of the event, winning last in 2001 when he graduated with Roberts, a member of the only Big 12 Conference title team at Kansas in 1999. Plus, the two frequently play at Alvamar, KU’s home course.

Stewart currently lives in Overland Park and works as financial planner for Northwestern Mutual. Roberts lives in Lawrence and works as a business manager at University Press. Still they find time for golf — or at least they try to.

“When you’re in college, it’s like living the retired life,” said Stewart, who hasn’t played in the tournament since he graduated. “You go to class for a few hours, and then you come out here and practice for the rest of the day.”

Kansas University graduates Andy Stewart, left, and Conrad Roberts chat during the 14th hole of the KGA Four-Ball championship. The team snared the top seed Wednesday at Alvamar for today's start of match play.

Any practice time has been replaced by tee time.

“The big difference right now is the fact that I don’t practice, but it’s funny: You come out here and make do with what you have,” said Roberts, who never played in the event while at KU, opting to return to his native Wales as soon as the school year ended. “We’re comfortable on this course. We’re comfortable shooting low scores, and that’s important. There’s no guesswork. We know where everything’s at.”

The two had an almost identical performance Wednesday as Tuesday, scoring a 31 on the front nine and a 34 on the back. Wednesday, they registered six birdies and only one bogey.

“We’re peaking at the right time. We hope so,” Roberts said. “Hopefully, we can get into the match play and get into a rhythm.”

Behind the Krsnich brothers sit three teams with a score of 132, including the team of KU golfers and tournament favorites Gary Woodland and Tyler Docking.

Tuesday’s top team — KU golfer Barrett Martens and Missouri’s Trent Twaddle — went from being on top of the pack with a 62 to right in the middle of it with a two-day total of 135.

First round match play begins today at 7:30 a.m., with the last group slated to tee off at 10 a.m.