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Kirkham, Radke lead strong finishing effort for men’s golf

Bradley golfer Roy Radke watches an iron shot. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics

In their final tournament of the 2022-23 season, the Bradley men’s golf team finished strong with a fourth-place finish at the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. 

Seniors Roy Radke and Josh Kirkham headlined the Braves’ effort, finishing third and fifth respectively. In their last season on the Hilltop, Radke and Kirkham earned All-MVC honors and posted historic performances in their last putt around the Valley. 

Radke opened the tournament for Bradley shooting an even-par 72 but felt he struggled in his opening round.

“I had a 2-iron in my bag for the first round and I didn’t hit it well,” Radke said. “I switched to a hybrid the second round and it gave me a lot more confidence.”

The switch from 2-iron to a hybrid seemed to have drastic effects on the senior’s game as Radke had arguably two of the best rounds of his career in rounds two and three. The senior shot a three-under-par 69, followed by a five-under-par 67 to finish with a score of 208.

Almost directly behind Radke was Kirkham. The Texas native started slow but gained momentum and confidence when he let the game come to him. 

“In the [first] round, I overemphasized needing to be perfect,” Kirkham said. “I struggled with confidence after a slow start. It became easier when I saw a couple of putts go in. In round two, I started believing in myself.”

After a first-round score of 73, Kirkham rebounded with a historic second round, shooting a 65 to break the school record for the lowest 18-hole score. The senior tied for fifth, finishing the tournament with a total score of 209, just a shot over par. 

Next in line for the Braves was graduate transfer Luke Armbrust. The veteran from Illinois started the tournament out hot with a first-round score of 68 that was buoyed by an eagle but cooled down on day two. In the second and third rounds, Armbrust shot 74 and 76, which led to a total score of 218, placing him 23rd overall. 

Freshman Connor Hamm ended his impressive year placing 40th overall. He opened the tournament shooting a three-over-par 74 and finished the tournament with two scores of 75. 

Rounding out the lineup for Bradley was senior John Stillman. He finished 46th overall with rounds of 75-77-78, for a total score of 230.

The Braves closed the year on a high note after a somewhat disappointing spring season. In the fall, the team performed well, finishing in the top five in multiple tournaments. Head coach Jeff Roche, who has now completed his 23rd season, was pleased with the effort from his team to close the year. 

“We had a good start to the year, but at the end of the fall and start of the spring we weren’t quite where we should be,” Roche said. “The last three tournaments, we evolved. If we would’ve had another two tournaments this year, we would have kept getting better and better. I was pleased to see how we kept going.”

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