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Kirkham breaks through, ties program record as Braves golf improves

Bradley golfer Josh Kirkham watches a shot at a tournament in 2021. Photo courtesy of Loyola Athletics

Bradley senior golfer Josh Kirkham tied a school record for lowest round in school history at the Derek Dolenc Invitational in Madison, Illinois.

Kirkham has been knocking on the door of setting the top 18-hole mark for the last few seasons, but kicked down the door this time around with a second-round 66. He became the first Bradley golfer to shoot two rounds of 67 or lower in the same tournament after firing a 67 in the final round. Kirkham tied Charlie Forster of Southeastern Louisiana for first at seven-under-par for the tournament before Forster took home the title in a playoff.

“It has been coming for a while,” head coach Jeff Roche said. “He did some great work this summer, and he is at the level where it is as much [a] mindset as anything else. It is understanding that both good and bad things will happen, and it has no reflection of who you are — it’s just that things happen.”

The senior is off to a hot start this fall, picking up his third top-10 finish in three tournaments. Kirkham finished eighth at the Wildcat Invitational to begin the fall season, fourth last week at the Valpo Fall Invite and now tied for first this week in Madison.

It took a miraculous finish for Kirkham to finish in the tie for first, including back-to-back birdies on holes 17 and 18. On 17, Kirkham was able to make a birdie on the par-three hole, and on 18, Kirkham hit the green of the par-five hole in two shots, two-putting for a tie.

“What really stood out to me [was] he had a reasonable birdie putt on 16, but it had a lot of break to it and didn’t quite make it, but [he] realized he was two down with two to go,” Roche said.”

For his outstanding play, Kirkham was presented his first MVC Golfer of the Week award of his career.

As a team, the Braves finished tied for fifth out of 16 teams with an 877, their lowest 54-hole score since 2018-19. Bradley has finished in fifth place twice and sixth place once already this fall and has begun to turn the corner.

“Everybody in our top five battled the entire time,” Roche said. “Just having been in the situation, as we were ten shots back in third place, we were on the front end and in the final group. It was good to get the experience to know what that feels like.”

Graduate senior Luke Armbrust had the second-best 54-hole score for the Braves this week. His season-best 71 in the third round helped him to a three-round total of nine-over-par 222.

Senior Roy Radke finished third in the Braves’ lineup, right behind Armbrust with a three-round total of 12-over-par 225. After consecutive rounds of 75 to start the tournament, senior John Stillman finished fourth on the team with 14-over-par 227.

Freshman Connor Hamm rounded out the Braves’ lineup right behind Radke and Stillman with a three-round total of 228.

The Braves have a bit of rest before starting their next tournament, the Bubba Barnett Intercollegiate on Oct. 10 in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

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