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Jayhawks head to regionals with big potential, small margin for error

KU seeded 11th at 14-team regional in California

4 min read
The Kansas men's golf team will open NCAA Regional play today in Racho Santa Fe, California, as the No. 11 seed at the 14-team event. [Kansas Athletics photo]

The Kansas men’s golf team is headed to NCAA Regional play for the eighth consecutive season, but this particular group brings a good mix of experience and youth to California with it.

Two of the Jayhawks’ top six players, Davis Cooper and William Duquette, are seniors who have played a lot of golf for the Jayhawks.

Another, former transfer Cecil Belisle, has been one of the Jayhawks’ veterans and top performers this season but the two-time tourney winner is still being asked to preform at this stage of the season for just the second time. And the team’s leader in season scoring average, Will King, is still just a sophomore, despite being considered somewhat of a veteran on this team.

All of that mental fortitude and the Jayhawks’ variety of experience helped them get through a rough start to the fall season and finish strong this spring.

“It’s all about resilience,” KU coach Jamie Bermel told R1S1 Sports before his team went west. “We started out so poorly in the fall and just kept getting better and better and gained some confidence. I think it was their willingness to learn and practice that made it happen. They work hard.”

Seeded 11th at the 14-team regional, the Jayhawks will compete for three rounds over three days at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, California, where the top five teams will advance to nationals.

“Our margin for error isn’t very big,” Bermel acknowledged. “So, we have to execute. We have to be mentally tough. We can’t take weeks off, we can’t take rounds off, we can’t take holes off. But I think we’re in a good spot. Now, it’s just about going out there and playing our game and not worrying about the noise of where you’re at, what you’re doing and trying to qualify. Just take care of what we can control and play the game like you know how to play it.”

Here’s a quick look at each player the Jayhawks took with them to regionals — five starters and an alternate — and each player’s form as Kansas enters do-or-die time on Monday.

KU is slated to tee off at 11:25 a.m. central time in Round 1.

Follow along with live team and individual scoring here.

Sophomore Will King

Season scoring average: 71.88
Rounds played: 34
Known for: Straight drives and solid iron play.

“When he gets his putter going, he can go low. But, he hits it where he’s looking and he’s pretty steady. Although he’s only a sophomore, he doesn’t play like a sophomore.”

“He’s experienced but young and brings a lot of game.”

Senior William Duquette

Season scoring average: 74.25
Rounds played: 27
Known for: Consistent and elite ball striking

“Fifth-year guy; he’s our COVID baby. We’re going to start him as the sixth man out in San Diego, but I’m not afraid to put him in the lineup at any time. He’s played in NCAA Tournament regionals and finals and he’s been around.”

“He drives it fairly well and is a pretty good iron player. When he struggles, it’s usually with his chipping and his putting, the short game. But when he’s having a good ball-striking day he can go low, as well.”

Freshman Max Jelinek

Season scoring average: 73.03
Rounds played: 31
Known for: Youth after coming to college early

“Max is a big kid who hits it hard. His iron play is really solid. But he can struggle with his inexperience, when to attack the golf course and when to play it safe or play the percentage shots. But he keeps gaining more and more confidence and more and more experience and he has tremendous upside.”

“Just play your game. Don’t let the moment be bigger than it really is. It’s still just 18 holes of golf, no matter what you’re at.”

Senior Davis Cooper

Season scoring average: 73.55
Rounds played: 34
Known for: Best putter on the team

“He kind of picks the golf course apart. He doesn’t overpower it. He’s a very good wedge player, typically a very good putter, so if he can get his driver in play, he can score on any course, especially one that’s not real long.”

“He’s been here for four years, played a lot of golf for us. He’s won a college tournament before and he’s been on winning teams, so he knows what that’s about and he’s a big part of this.”

Junior Gunnar Broin

Season scoring average: 72.29
Rounds played: 34
Known for: Strength off the tee

“Gunnar’s a power guy. I remember when we were in Sea Island and Zach Johnson was playing with him and he said, ‘Boy, he’s got a heavy ball,’ meaning that the ball just stays up in the air.”

“He’s technically pretty solid. Can be a streaky putter, but he’s not afraid to go low and he’s typically a pretty solid iron player, especially with his mid-irons.”

Senior Cecil Belisle

Season scoring average: 71.94
Rounds played: 34
Known for: Hard work and preparation

“He’s kind of our go-to guy. He and Will King are very close in stroke average and Cecil’s won twice. For him, it’s all about getting comfortable. Once you get him comfortable, he just kind of plods his way around. He drives the ball fairly straight and doesn’t take many chances out there, so his score doesn’t fluctuate much. When he gets his putter going he can be very, very effective.”

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