The Kansas University golf program long has been affiliated with Alvamar’s public golf course, so it’s never a surprise when former Jayhawks win events there. On Wednesday during the Kansas Golf Association four-ball tournament, it was a day of near misses for former Jayhawks.
Many who looked at the match-play bracket looked ahead to what would have been a most interesting final, but both tandems that could have met in the finals lost close matches in the quarterfinal round Wednesday. Seth Bryan and Shane Gilbert defeated Kit Grove and fellow former KU golfer Jason Seeman, 1-up in one quarterfinal. Harry Higgs and Park Ulrich defeated Chris Gilbert and Jeff Bell, 1-up on the other side of the bracket. Had Grove and Seeman and Chris Gilbert and Bell advanced to the finals, it would have pit Grove, the former KU golf coach, against two of his former players in what would have been a blast for everyone.
In a masters division semifinal match, Zac Burton and T.J. Vilkanskas defeated six-time city champion Conrad Roberts, another KU graduate, and partner David Rismiller in 19 holes.
Woodland trying to stay on tour
Gary Woodland will attempt to continue to move up the PGA money list this weekend in Memphis, where he is playing in the St. Jude Classic. Woodland tees off at 7:45 a.m. today.
Woodland’s 2011 victory in the Transitions in Tampa guaranteed him a spot on the tour through the end of this season. Barring winning an event, Woodland’s path to maintaining his spot on tour lies in finishing in the top 125 in tournament earnings. His $93,000 paycheck for finishing in a tie for 16th at the Memorial last weekend moved him to 124th with $354,557.56. (Tiger Woods tops the list with $5,862,496 in earnings).
Since changing his grip to remove the pain from his wrist, Woodland has made eight consecutive cuts. He ranks fifth on the tour in average driving distance (302.62) — behind Luke List (305.02), Nicolas Colsaerts (304.24), Robert Garrigus (303.35) and Dustin Johnson (303) — and 154th in driving accuracy, one spot ahead of Colsaerts.
Woodland and girlfriend Gabby Granado just moved to Lawrence, where they will reside in the summer, when not at tour events. They live in Orlando, Fla., in the winter. He has not qualified for next week’s U.S. Open.
Thompson short at Open qualifying
Lawrence resident and former KU golfer Chris Thompson, who continues to do well at the mini-tour level, missed qualifying for the U.S. Open by three strokes Monday at Old Warson Country Club by three strokes when he shot 74-70—144. A 141 would have landed him the second and final spot at the sectional qualifier. A 142 would have put him in a three-way playoff for the spot. In 2007, Thompson barely missed qualifying for the PGA Tour late in the sixth and final phase of Q school in 2007. He spent that year on the Nationwide Tour and once shot an opening-round 60 to take the first-round lead in the Cox Classic at Champions Run in Omaha. Thompson’s 61 from the back tees at Lawrence Country Club is a course record.
‘Tall-face putter’ looks to catch on
Kyle Taylor, proprietor of Golf USA when it had a store in Lawrence, purchased the rights from a local inventor to a putter that can be seen with increasing regularity on area golf courses. Taylor markets three different styles of Tall Face Putter, and it’s not an easy sell simply because no PGA Tour professional uses it.
“It’s very difficult because that’s a lot of times the first question people will ask: Is anyone on tour using it?” Taylor said.
Locally, the putter has been spotted in winner’s circles: former city champion Spencer Wilson uses one and Mark Elliott, among the most accomplished left-handed golfers in northeast Kansas.
“The tall-face putter compared to the traditional putter has a much taller face it also has a little bit of curvature,” Taylor said. “Most golfers, especially recreational golfers, when they putt they set the putter on the ground. And then when they putt they go back, usually clip the grass at the bottom of the stroke. With a conventional putter if you do that your ball is going to hit the top of the face, sometimes even the top edge, which will cause it to pop up. And then once in a while if they take a bigger stroke they may pick it up and hit the center, so it’s not going to be very consistent. With our putter when you set it behind, it always hits the equator of the ball. And with that curved face if you forward press a little bit or you lag back, it’s always going to hit the equator of the ball. So it’s a more consistent roll.”
Father’s Day shoppers can find the putters at Alvamar, Lawrence Country Club and at tallfaceputter.com.
Portable spikes introduced
Rick Hetzel, retired chief of police of Cape Girardo, Mo., and a former Lawrence resident, as do many retirees, finds himself thinking a lot about golf. But instead of calculating his next shot, he’s trying to think of a new product to introduce to the golf market. So far, his most successful invention has been portable golf spikes that slip on over “tennis shoes or Sketchers,” he said. He calls them the “insta-golf shoe.”
Hetzel said he came up with the idea when packing for a golf trip to Ireland and wondered why such a product didn’t exist because it’s so much easier to pack than shoes. His product, marketed on instagolfshoes.com, inspired him to come up with other inventions, including a ball-mark repair tool with wavy stainless steel legs made of aircraft-grade aluminum.
“Most people don’t know the proper way to repair ball marks,” Hetzel said during a recent visit to Lawrence, where he had not been in decades. “The beauty of it is it doesn’t damage the root systems.” Hetzel calls the device a spider divot tool.