MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State men’s golf team is set to compete against the other nine Big 12 foes in the annual Big 12 Match Play Championship at the par-71, 7,007-yard Club at Houston Oaks in Hockley, Texas.
K-State had to withdraw from this tournament last fall due to COVID-19 protocols, but the Wildcats have had success in the event’s three-year history, finishing sixth in 2018 and third in 2019.
“The guys are really excited to play the Big 12 match play event,” head coach Grant Robbins said. “If you were to ask the ones that have played before, they would say this is the most enjoyable tournament they play in all year.”
What makes this tournament so special is that it differentiates from the normal 54-hole stroke format, where the four lowest individual scores count towards the team score.
In match-play format, you are looking to win your individual matchup to earn points.
“Match play is an entirely different form of competition where you go head-to-head against an opponent and try to earn a point for your team,” Robbins said. “It encourages an aggressive mindset, and I know the guys are excited and ready to go up against some of the best teams in the country.”
The conference teams were seeded and split into two pools. K-State was assigned into Pool A as the ninth seed, along with Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kansas and West Virginia.
Each team will play four matches in the pool play sessions, receiving three points for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss. They will then be ranked within their pool and face off with their corresponding team from Pool B in the championship round.
The Wildcats will have six competitors in Hockley, Tim Tillmanns, Will Hopkins, Luke O’Neill, Cooper Schultz, Nicklaus Mason and Ethan Miller.
Tillmanns and Hopkins, now veterans, have both competed at a high level in the Big 12 Match Play Championship. The two Wildcat leaders were integral parts to K-State’s third-place finish at the event in 2019.
Two years later, these two are still playing great golf.
Tillmanns is fresh off a top-10 finish at Rich Harvest farms, as the junior shot a 5-under par 211 to tie for sixth place. It was the fifth top-10 finish of his career. With the performance, the Cologne, Germany native is now the team stroke average leader for the Wildcats at 70.89.
Hopkins, the lone senior for K-State, shot a 1-over par 217 last week to tie for 31st.
The biggest story of the season for the Wildcats has been the encouraging play from all their young talent.
O’Neill and Miller, along with Mason and Schultz, each have added a top-20 finish to their resume this season, all stepping up in times when the Wildcats needed them most. Mason tied for 12th, O’Neill tied for fourth and Miller tied for ninth at the Wildcat invitational, while Schultz found his best finish at the Old Town Collegiate when he tied for seventh.
This Monday, K-State will have a great opportunity to display their deep lineup against their Big 12 counterparts, and Robbins is excited for the chance.
“Houston Oaks is a fantastic course. The staff and membership there really go above and beyond to make this a special experience,” Robbins said. “We are really looking forward to it.”
The three-day tournament will tee off Monday morning with pool play running through Wednesday morning before the event concludes with the championship round that afternoon. Fans can follow live scoring on Golfstat.com.