Las Cruces, N.M. Kansas University’s golf team started the final round of Tuesday’s Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate 11 strokes behind leader New Mexico State.
Didn’t seem to matter.
The Jayhawks shot an 11-under-par 858, edging UNLV by one stroke, and capturing their first tournament victory since 2007.
“It was pretty amazing how they played today,” KU coach Kit Grove said. “... Golf is a strange game and you never know where you’re at, but when I saw we were at 11-under for the day, I started to think we had a shot at winning.”
KU sophomores Chris Gilbert and Alex Gutesha, along senior Nate Barbee, all finished in the top 10 individually.
Gilbert shot a 65 in the final round, matching the seventh-best round in KU history. Barbee ended the day with a 66 and Gutesha finished with a 68. Gutesha’s 54-hole score of 210 marked the best round from a KU player this season.
Gutesha finished in a tie for third place at 210. Gilbert finished in a tie for seventh place at 213. Barbee tied for 10th at 214.
Grove admitted the chances of coming back to win from fifth place were slim, but attributed the team’s success to the confidence it had been building the past few weeks.
“You never know what is going to happen,” Grove said. “We’ve been getting better over the past few tournaments, especially when we don’t have to count high scores. When our guys do well, their confidence goes up. It’s just like anything else, if you struggle, then there is going to be some doubt. But once you go out and play well a couple of times, you get some confidence and you start building momentum.”
Timothy Madigan of New Mexico State and Matt Rawitzer of Idaho finished first among individuals, both shooting 208.
The tournament concluded KU’s fall season. The Jayhawks will resume play in the spring season when they compete in the Wyoming Desert Classic on Feb. 26-27, 2011, in Palm Desert, Calif.