Paul Harris shook his head at the leaderboard after the Kansas Invitational on Tuesday at the Alvamar Golf Club.
He was either squinting from the sun in his eyes or wincing at the disappointing numbers.
“These scores aren’t really ideal,” the Kansas University junior golfer said.
The Jayhawks came in fifth out of 12 teams with a total score of 884 (20-over), while UMKC won with an 874 (10-over). Harris finished as the top Jayhawk with a 75 (3-over) final-round score and a 220 (4-over) overall. Individually, he placed 11th.
Harris was down on himself for not getting his score closer to his goal of 71, but he has been nicked with injuries. His legs and his back have been on the mend for a while and though he wasn’t at 100 percent, he said he was steadily improving.
“It’s been worse,” Harris said.
Kansas coach Kit Grove’s reaction on the tournament was a more severe case of disappointment. He said the Jayhawks had a solid week of practice, so he did not understand why they let the other teams build leads. It was a beautiful day with a slight breeze at the home course, and KU did everything well except make putts. That was enough to undo Kansas.
“We did way too many things well to put the numbers we did on the board this week,” Grove said.
Those putts especially hurt on the par-5 holes. Kansas would get the ball 20-25 feet from the hole and it would need three strokes before finding the hole.
The result of a par-5 hole at home should be at least a par and most likely a birdie, Grove said, not a bogey. He almost didn’t want to look at the final scorecard.
“It’s going to make me sick how many sixes we made on the par-fives,” he said.
Both Grove and Harris said the problem in the tournament was mental. That includes the pressure to perform at home compounded with the anxiety of getting down after a bad shot. One miss turned into two.
In theory, Grove said, the problem is fixable. But, just like free throws in basketball, putting could be practiced until it is almost automatic.
“You can sit in a dorm room and putt at a dime,” he said.
UMKC putted well and it is no coincidence that it finished in first place after trailing by nine holes going into the final day.
UMKC senior Will Robson’s hole-in-one on the final day was a big help, but it didn’t make the comeback any less stressful for coach J.W. VanDenBorn.
“The last couple hours have been tense,” he said.
Three UMKC players finished in the top 10, which was the most out of any team.
VanDenBorn said since Kansas didn’t win the meet, fellow Kansas school UMKC was the other suitable representative to take home the trophy.